Queensland needs 100 new schools: Planning Commission

The Schools Planning Commission has mapped the hotspots in need of new schools over the next 20 years.The Schools Planning Commission has determined more than 100 new schools will probably be needed across the state in the next 20 years – and it is already failing to take into account about 38,000 students.

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek tasked the commission with mapping Queensland’s growth areas and returning with a plan of where new schools would be needed and when.

But the most up to date statistics it had to use were from 2011. And in three short years, the estimates have blown out even further.

“What you are seeing…is a final determination for new schools over the next 20 years, commission chair Bob Quinn said. “Already, I have to say because of the change in data that has come from the Bureau of Statistics, it is somewhat out of date.”

“We are 38,000 students short of our estimates at the moment.

“The latest numbers signed off by the Treasurer, only about a month ago, means that there is a another 38,000 students coming into this state over the next 20 years.

“So you can see how important this process was. These maps will be updated every 12 months from recommendations that we’ve made to the minister and from there, all of the stakeholders will be continued to be involved in terms of where they are planning new schools, what type of new schools, what the time frame will be, how large they’ll be.

“So there will be a sharing of information like there has never been before to make sure that very scarce resources aren’t wasted as we build into the future.”

The plan covers suburbs of the Gold Coast, such as Robina, as well as growing regional areas such Cairns, Mackay and Beaudesert.

A funding model for the new schools is still to be worked out. The government has 11 new schools in the pipeline, which will be finished in the next couple of years. Ten of those were funded through a public-private partnership model with The Plenary Schools Consortium.

Under the PPP, the consortium builds the schools in exchange for a 30-year maintenance contract with the government.

Mr Langbroek said the hows and whens of building the new schools, estimated to be between 99 and 119, with up to 83 primary schools and 36 high schools, would be determined at a later date. But he reiterated the importance of the commission, working together with the government and independent and Catholic schools sectors to ensure needs were met quickly and, at the same time, some areas were not inundated with unnecessary facilities, while others faced over-crowding.

He said the change to the statistics indicated how “volatile” the Queensland population-growth figures were.

“As we have already heard, there are 38,000 new children, prospectively, then we might have planned for before,” he said.

“We need to make sure that just in certain areas there might be some changes….we need to be able to look at the data, see where we are now and make sure we adapt for the future.”

For more information head to www.education.qld.gov.au/schools/schools-planning-commission.

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