The New South Wales government has continued to roll out its answer to educating Sydney’s burgeoning population – ‘pop-up’ schools.
The latest is a 14-classroom facility next to Wentworth Park greyhounds track designed for 360 students from Ultimo Public School for the next two years.
“We have a clear plan to provide more and more permanent education as the state continues to grow to make sure, in the case of Sydney, as the city gets bigger, it gets better,” said Education Minister Rob Stokes.
The government last week announced it had fast-tracked work on 13 school builds and upgrades in western Sydney, which were expected to offer another 3500 student places.
However, Opposition Leader Luke Foley said the state was in “crisis”, with an additional 280,000 students needing classrooms over the next 15 years.
“We have to go much, much faster than this government’s gone,” Mr Foley said on Monday.
“They’ve closed 22 more schools than they’ve opened in their seven years of government.”
The new Ultimo campus was constructed in the park over seven months and includes a library, canteen and outdoor play area for children to use while their classrooms are rebuilt across the road.
Education Minister Rob Stokes said the classrooms and teachers were ready for students to return to start the term on Tuesday.
“We can ensure that kids who are at school right at the moment, aren’t disrupted by the change,” he said.
Mr Stokes said with the Government planning to build or redevelop more than 120 schools, more pop-up schools were likely.
We are going to require a few temporary schools in different locations.”
Pop-up schools are already open or set to open at Rainbow Street in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, Russel Lea in the inner-west and Lake Cathie on the north coast.
Mr Stokes said the Government would consider which other sites were suitable.
The plan for the Ultimo ‘pop-up’ sparked controversy when lead contamination was discovered at the site, but Mr Stokes said he was confident it had been made safe for students.
“I am supremely confident that this is a safe school,” Mr Stokes said.
The school, which will cater to one of the most densely populated areas in the city, has capacity for 800 students.
More than 800,000 new pupils will start school across NSW this week, including 70,000 new kindergarten students.
“We really push ahead with our infrastructure plan for new schools and new classrooms but also we’re thinking outside the box,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
New syllabuses in English, mathematics, science and history will be taught for year 11 students in 2018.
Key differences in the new syllabus will be a focus on “depth” rather than “breadth” of topics covered and an interactive e-syllabus linking new courses to teaching and assessment resources.