Schools to open gates to public over summer break

Schools to open gates to public over summer break
Dozens of schools across Sydney, Central Coast, North Coast and southern NSW will open their gates to the public over the summer holidays under a new trial program by the NSW Government.

The trial program, which more than 40 of the state’s schools have signed up to, is an off-shoot of a similar project in New York City and could eventually lead to public use of schools’ parking spaces, halls and ovals.

NSW Education Minister, Rob Stokes, said the move was motivated by the fact that fewer families have access to backyards and private open spaces.

“Schools are an important part of every community and often occupy prime open space. Instead of locking the gate this summer, the trial program will share this public space to allow people to exercise and play at their local school over the summer holiday break,” Stokes said.

“Our schools have a range of quality recreational and play facilities and we are making them accessible to the broader community outside of the school term.”

Participating schools will open their gates to the public on December 23 from 8am-6pm and will make their grounds available through to the end of January when Term 1 begins.

Security will be provided by private companies that will be covered under a $15,000 grant from the NSW Government. The grant will also cover the costs associated with any potential damage or vandalism to school facilities.

Stokes said the Department looked at the various issues involved with opening up school playgrounds to the public but took the decision that despite whatever risks may emerge, ultimately the public paid for these facilities.

“It would be silly to leave these beautiful spaces locked up,” Stokes said.

Related stories:
How outdoor play can be educational
‘Surplus safety’ for students: schools take out accident insurance