24 May, 2016
My contribution is directed to the Minister for Education. My request of him is to address the growing student numbers at Doncaster Gardens Primary School. Specifically the minister needs to meet with the school's leadership group, listen to their plans to accommodate their growth and implement those plans. Doncaster Gardens Primary School is an exceptional school in the Warrandyte electorate. Led by principal Michele Beal, it is one of the most successful schools in the area, with students who are engaged and happy to learn. The success of the school has led to a rapidly trending increase in student enrolments — some would say a good problem to have — and the school welcomes all those who wish to join. Student numbers are now at 650 and are expected to climb in coming years.
Unfortunately available play space has become a major issue at a school built to accommodate 450 students. This has meant that the portables brought in for these growing numbers have significantly impacted on available play areas. While already under the mandated amount of play space required for this number of students, the official area the school has available for play does not take into account the steepness of some of the areas on the school site. In reality this makes those areas unsuitable, limiting play space even more. With the junior school students currently using a blocked off driveway to play on during recess and lunchtimes, this is clearly a situation that cannot continue.
Fortunately Mrs Beal and her team have a solution. In the short term the replacement of the existing three double portables with two new double two-storey portables would free up some play space immediately. In the longer term, if the school's entitlement to a full-sized gym were fulfilled, the existing gym space could be turned into classroom space, allowing additional portables to be removed. This is an important issue and one that the growing numbers of students will not allow to be ignored. I urge the minister to meet with the school community as a matter of urgency and assist it in planning for the growth that will occur in the school's bright future.