Parents: think big on school infrastructure

ACT’s peak body for public school parents is asking ACT election candidates to think big on school infrastrure. 

ACT Council of Parent and Citizens Associations’ spokesperson, Kirsty McGovern-Hooley, says parents are pleased to see recent funding announcements and election promises for public school infrastructure, but that it just isn’t enough.

"Canberra’s older schools are showing their age, while others are suffering enrolment pressure and crowding. We need to think big. We need long term funding and a clear plan to upgrade our schools for the next generation. Our schools don’t just need maintenance, but a clear vision of real investment for the future.”

“For our older schools, upgrades are needed to ensure safety, comfort and access,” says Ms McGovern-Hooley. “While we welcome the investment in new schools, the current plans are too conservative. In some areas more schools are needed, not just school expansions.”

“You can’t keep expanding schools. It puts too much pressure on the rest of the school infrastructure – toilets, the size of the hall, library, playground space and equipment. We start to see compromises – libraries lost to be used as classroom space, kids being told to be quiet at lunch time because other classes are running during their ‘shift’ on the playground.”

“2020 has also raised questions about the suitability of our school infrastructure – first schools ill-equipped to cope with bushfire smoke and then concerns about asbestos and lead in some of our older schools,” says Ms McGovern-Hooley.  “As the climate warms, parents are asking ACT election candidates to commit to providing cooling in every school, with filtration for smoke. It is great to see this being installed in new schools, but our older schools must be brought up to standard as well.”

“The most basic requirement is for our schools to be safe, accessible and comfortable places, but they also need to be inspiring, welcoming places – spaces where students can shine.”

“Commitments to refresh and modernise our schools must be made by the major parties – it will pay off with happy, focused and engaged learners,” Ms McGovern-Hooley says.

Parents are asking for all parties to commit funding for:

  • new schools in central Woden, inner north, and central Belconnen; and another college in Gungahlin/north Canberra
  • upgrades to make schools more accessible to students with various mobility levels
  • works to modernise specialist facilities in some high schools, such as drama suites, science labs and technology workshops
  • fences and security cameras where school communities request it
  • a long term plan for modernizing schools and removing hazardous materials
  • heating and cooling with air filtration.

Released 24 August, 2020.

Authorised by Terry Sanders for the ACT Council of Parents & Citizens Associations.