Government city schools beyond capacity 

By Sunny Liu

Government schools near the city continue to overflow as more families move to the CBD and the surrounding areas. 

The 2016 census shows 5804 families now live in postcode 3000, up from 3706 in 2011.

With the rising number of city children, the CBD is shifting from a “singles’ paradise” to a more family-friendly residential area.

However, the number of public schools in inner-city Melbourne does not seem to be keeping up with the heightened demand.

There are about 696 children living in the CBD and attending either a primary or a secondary school.

The provision zone of Parkville-based government secondary school, University High School, covers most of the CBD and North Melbourne and parts of Docklands, West Melbourne, Parkville and Carlton.

The 2016 census shows the combined number of primary and secondary school-aged children in these areas is 3269, while University High School’s capacity is 1200.

Lobby group City School For City Kids (CS4CK) claimed there were 10,000 school-aged children living in the CBD based on calculating from the census, although CBD News‘s calculation is 3269.

CS4CK said it was “extremely concerned” that most of the children living in inner-city areas were “being forced into private education for lack of adequate government school provisioning”.

The group argued that the influx of high-rise apartment towers in the CBD and surrounding suburbs had worsened the situation.

“As the census results indicate, the planning and education departments have totally failed to align school provisioning with planning approvals in a scale of magnitude that is overwhelming,” CS4CK said.

The group also said the proposed new Docklands primary school, with a capacity of 425, was “a drop in the ocean” for the increasingly large number of children living in the school zone.

CS4CK said there were 1429 students enrolled at University High School, 229 students beyond the school’s capacity.

The state government’s Docklands School Provision Review states that University High School is likely to experience a shortfall of 400 enrolment places by 2031.

The government report also found that by 2031, secondary schools in inner Melbourne would need an extra of 2000 places to meet enrolment demand.

The department also acknowledges that some inner-city schools rely on relocatable classrooms to achieve total capacity.

The designated neighbourhood zone for University High School introduced by the State Government in 2012 aims to restrict this popular school’s enrolment, which also results in some city students being assigned to government schools not the closest to their home.

On the eastern and southern sides of the CBD, government secondary schools Collingwood College and Albert Park College offer limited enrolments for students from the southeast side of the CBD and Docklands respectively.

However, these schools are also overflowing, with the 1100-student Albert Park College having room for only 230 students and relying on relocatable classrooms to meet demand.

In comparison, there are a lot more private schools available for city children, including the CBD’s only school Haileybury College, St Michael’s Primary School in North Melbourne, Melbourne Girls’ Grammar in South Yarra, Melbourne Grammar School and St Aloysius Girls’ College.

A Department of Education and Training spokesperson told CBD News:  “We are delivering an unprecedented $2.5 billion to build and upgrade schools across Victoria – including new and upgraded secondary schools in Melbourne’s inner-suburbs – so that every family in every community can access a great local government school.”

“Docklands families will have improved access to government secondary schooling in 2018 with the new University High School zone now taking effect.”

“The Government’s Inner City Schools Package will deliver the new Richmond and Prahran High Schools, expand capacity at Albert Park College, identify a new secondary school site at Fishermans Bend and fund the delivery of the new Footscray Learning Precinct – so that local families living in the inner-city can continue to attend a great local secondary school.”

In response to CS4CK’s claim that 10,000 children were zoned to University High School, the spokesperson said: “We annually review the need for new schools using detailed demographic modelling and enrolment trends at schools across Victoria, and work with local councils and planning authorities to identify and plan for new schools.”

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