The Victorian Government has pledged $850m to build new schools and preschools to meet growing demand across the state.
If the Andrews Government wins the upcoming state election, the funding commitment will see 24 new schools funded and built in the next term of government with a further 55 schools on foot for the following four years.
Recent research from the Grattan Institute found that Victoria will require 220 new schools over the next decade to accommodate burgeoning student enrolments.
The Australian Education Union (AEU) welcomed Wednesday’s announcement as a “welcome investment” in the state’s public education system.
“We will see 90,000 students enter Victoria’s schools in the next four years, we must be prepared,” Meredith Peace, president of the AEU’s Victorian Branch, said today.
“This funding commitment would see 24 new schools funded and built in the next term of government with a further 55 schools on foot for the following four years.”
Labor will also co-locate preschools with public primary schools, which will make for an easier transition between preschool and primary school for children and families.
Peace said Victorian parents want schools resourced to meet their child’s individual learning needs and deserve local public schools with safe and modern learning environments.
“Beyond planning for new schools and staff to cater for the growing number of students we also need a state government to invest in at least 1,600 additional teachers every year for the next 10 years so that every student gets more of the individual attention that they need,” Peace said.
Australian Principals Federation (APF) president, Julie Podbury, said both the government’s proposals were “outstanding”.
“As educators we want school infrastructure to be planned and built as or before need arises, so that teachers and principals are not put under the immense pressure that arises from educating children or indeed working on a temporary site or a building site,” Podbury told The Educator.
“Further, where there are not adequate schools, some schools are forced to become exceedingly large, which is not usually ideal for students, teachers or school principal class.”
Podbury said the population is growing at such a rate in Victoria that the need for the new schools is “clearly indicated”.
“The second proposal makes eminent sense and is already the case in a good number of primary schools,” she said.
“This proposal provides parents with a single drop off point, reducing pressure on families, the road system and makes transition from pre-school to primary a much smoother and calmer process for the children.”