Schools in the North West are less crowded than in Sydney

Schools in the North West are significantly less crowded than their city counterparts, according to NSW Department of Education school utilisation figures.

The data from June 2017, obtained by Nine News under freedom of information laws, reveals that the majority of schools throughout the New England North West region are running under their maximum capacity, based on the number of teaching staff compared to the number of teaching spaces, or classrooms.

Boomi and Bullarah public school are two of 640 schools listed as 100 per cent full, with the remainder of schools in the More Plains Shire having room to move should enrolment numbers increase.

Moree Public School is just under full capacity at 97 per cent, while both Moree Secondary College campuses are just over 50 per cent and Moree East Public School has room for 10 more teachers at only 33 per cent.

Meanwhile, some of the smaller schools in the shire are running significantly below capacity with North Star Public School at 67 per cent, Mungindi Central School at 53 per cent, Garah Public School at 50 per cent, Boggabilla Central School at 42 per cent, Croppa Creek Public School at 33 per cent and Pallamallawa only at 25 per cent, with room for three more teachers.

Regionally, Inverell Public School, Gilgai Public School, Gunnedah South Public School, Boggabri Public School, Narrabri West Public School and Tamworth Public School are the only schools at full capacity, while the remainder of schools in Inverell, Narrabri, Glen Innes, Gunnedah, Armidale and Tamworth have room for additional student enrolments.

A Department of Education spokesperson said these figures are in line with population growth in rural and regional areas, which generally remains steady in the North West.

This is in stark comparison to many Sydney schools which have exceeded their maximum student numbers.

A total of 21 schools in NSW, mostly suburbs within Sydney, are running above capacity.

Parramatta Public School topped the list of the most overcrowded schools, running at 126 per cent of its enrollment capacity.

Other schools under pressure are Annandale Public School (118 per cent), Girraween Public School (116 per cent), Campsie Public School (113 per cent) and Castle Hill High School (106 per cent).

The department spokesperson said that a 100 per cent utilisation rate does not mean that a school can’t take any more students.

“It means all of the school’s teaching spaces, permanent and demountable, are being used for teaching and learning,” they said.

“Higher enrolments can usually be catered for by adding permanent or demountable classrooms or, in some cases, adjusting school catchment boundaries.

“For schools over 100 per cent utilisation, a decision has generally been made at a local level by the school principal to manage student enrolments within existing permanent spaces, instead of placing demountable classrooms on the school site.”

The Department of Education will arrange for demountable classrooms when a principal confirms the need for additional accommodation.

The NSW Government announced a 61 per cent increase in school infrastructure spending in the 2017/18 budget with $4.2 billion to be spent on new schools and significant school upgrades over four years.

“We will start building or upgrading more than 120 schools, creating 32,000 more student places and 1500 new classrooms across NSW,” the spokersperson said.

“A record $2.2 billion of new schools and classrooms will start within the next two years.”


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