21 March, 2017
My contribution is directed to the Minister for Education. My request is that he visit Doncaster Gardens Primary School so he can see for himself the urgent need for an allocation of double-storey portables to the school. In raising the matter I also wish to place on record and acknowledge the outstanding contribution that Doncaster Gardens Primary School makes to my electorate of Warrandyte. Situated in Doncaster East, Doncaster Gardens has grown to be a leader in educational standards, and is led by its principal, Carolyn Elliot, with her staff of 62.
The school is literally bursting at the seams. Current enrolments stand at 672, with an expected increase of over 60 students over the next two years, pushing enrolments to a staggering 732 students on a small site. This is despite the school being in the restricted enrolment category. Class size is reaching 30 students, well above the state's average class size of 22.3 students in 2016. At the commencement of 2017 the school was required to place an additional two classrooms into the staff car park to accommodate the growing enrolment as external learning spaces were already limited. This places an increased safety risk upon the school community, which will only intensify with growing enrolments.
The extreme restriction in external spaces also impacts on curriculum areas, with increased classroom capacity impacting on best practice teaching. Issues also arise in regard to enrolments of international students as well as forcing challenges on local families who must choose a school that is second to their first choice.
In May 2016 I raised this issue with the minister in this very debate. The minister responded that the school had sufficient classroom accommodation. If the minister had taken the action asked by meeting with school leadership, he may understand the necessity for double-storey portables to accommodate for future demands and to allow students to have a positive learning environment.
It is my hope that on this occasion the minister makes the trip to Doncaster Gardens Primary School so he can see firsthand the challenges that the school and its community face. I again urge the minister to visit the school and help fast-track the allocation of double-storey portables to Doncaster Gardens Primary School.