School denounces its demountables

Michael de Wall

School Buildings our Kids Deserve forum

More than 80 parents and teachers from Girraween Public School attended a community forum to highlight the failure of the NSW Government to provide their school with a funded plan to address ongoing infrastructure issues.

The School Buildings our Kids Deserve forum was organised by Federation members and the P&C. In the past decade, the school’s enrolments have grown from 514 to 1150 students.

The school has reduced its catchment area and slashed out of area enrolments, but their numbers continue to grow. As a result, Girraween Public School now has 32 demountables.

“We have two demountables for every permanent building and the play area for our students is rapidly disappearing,” said Federation Representative Rathy Srikanthan. “Our school community wants the State Government to provide us with a plan to build the school buildings our kids deserve.”

Shadow Minister for Education Jihad Dib heard the concerns of the Federation Representative and P&C Secretary before telling the gathered teachers and parents there was an urgent need to improve planning processes and more fully consider the effect of high-density developments on local public schools.

“Demountables are no substitute for a real classroom,” Mr Dib told the forum. “They are meant to be a temporary solution. If we value education we don’t see it as a cost, we see it as an investment.

'We have two demountables for every permanent building and the play area is rapidly disappearing'

“I don’t want a child who comes from Girraween to be any less advantaged than a child from elsewhere.”

Education Minister Rob Stokes was unable to attend the forum but met with the P&C secretary Jane Kelly and department officials on the morning of the forum.

Ms Kelly said the meeting with the Minister was positive and he “agreed the school’s request was reasonable”. Mr Stokes’ position was confirmed in the local media.

“This was my first opportunity as Education Minister to meet directly with parents at the school. I understand their reasonable concerns with the number of demountables,” Mr Stokes told the Parramatta Sun. “I have asked the department to come back to me with further options.”

Recognising that there is a need to continue campaigning until the school has a written commitment to address its infrastructure needs, the forum was unanimous in its support for the following resolution:

“We, the parents and teachers of Girraween Public School, reaffirm our commitment to campaigning for the school buildings our children deserve.

“Our goal is to secure a funded infrastructure plan for our school that includes: 1) a medium-term strategy involving two-storey demountables; and 2) a funded long-term commitment to the construction of permanent buildings and toilet facilities.”

The P&C and Federation Workplace Committee resolved to meet and plan the next stage of the campaign.

On September 19, Federation members met and voted unanimously to commit to stopwork industrial action on the morning of 18 October.

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