MEDIA RELEASE - Our schools are full, half are operating above capacity

Half of Maitland’s public schools already exceed their newly introduced enrolment caps, according to data obtained by NSW Labor during Budget Estimates questioning, and there are no plans to cater for the city’s ever-increasing population.

“Eleven of Maitland’s 22 public schools are at more than 100 per cent capacity,” Ms Aitchison said. “For years we’ve experienced some of the highest inland population growth in Australia and that shows no sign of abating, yet there are no plans to increase the number of schools.”

According to the data, across the electorate, schools are more than 99 per cent full. Eleven schools: Ashtonfield, Thornton, Gillieston, Morpeth, Lochinvar, Bolwarra, Rutherford, Maitland Public and Maitland East Public Schools are above their cap, as are Maitland Grossmann High School and Maitland High School.

A school’s enrolment cap is determined by the capacity of its permanent buildings. It does not include demountables.

Maitland City Council’s Draft Maitland local Strategic Planning Statement 2040+ notes that the city has had an annual growth rate consistently above 2 per cent. The current estimated population is 83,200 residents and is expected to be more than 110,600 residents by 2040.

“Demographics show that Maitland has a relatively young population,” Ms Aitchison said.

“Our council’s own research has determined the median age of residents at 36, and noted that families with children represent 45 per cent of total households.

“The NSW Government should be working ahead to ensure that the correct infrastructure is in place to properly support this predicted growth. We cannot expect our students and teachers to spend their days in deteriorating demountables because the Government has failed to invest in our children’s futures.”

Ms Aitchison said the figures were particularly concerning in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Overcrowding in schools means that social distancing is just not possible in many of our schools,” Ms Aitchison said. “This puts our teachers, our children and their families in potential danger.

“This is another out-of-touch decision by the Liberals and Nationals.”