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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Sorry state of the Hunter’s public schools

Children are learning out of 63 demountable buildings across the Hunter’s public schools.

Eleven of the 22 public schools are over capacity, while one is not even connected to the local sewerage system.

Maitland State MP Jenny Aitchison is on a mission to change that, pushing for the State Government to commit to long overdue school upgrades.

She says Gillieston Public School is most in need.

“The school has a septic system in 2020 and, across the road, Hunter Water can get sewerage connected,” she said.

“We have been lucky there has been a drought in Maitland for the last few years as, after the April 2015 super storms, there was a constant problem with sewerage and wetness on the grass.

“Some of that area is covered by demountable buildings now, but the issue is that the Department of Education didn’t fix it when it could have.

“It said it was too hard to get the piping up to the point of the property where the septic system was, however, across the road are brand new houses that must have septic connected.

“Why couldn’t they bring it over the road?”

Perhaps even more confronting is that, up until recently, the boys’ toilet had a mud floor, while the school isn’t easy to navigate for those living with a disability.

The playground is surrounded by demountables at Gillieston Public School. Photo: Peter Stoop

“Infrastructure in the school is not accessible to students or teachers with disabilities, with nearly every teaching space and shared facility, such as the halls, having stairs into them,” Ms Aitchison said.

Furthermore, Ms Aitchison said some schools are so full, they’re having to hold assemblies on consecutive days because all of the students can’t fit in the hall.

“The reality is they have to look at building new public schools, there’s obvious demand,” she said.

A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Education told the Newcastle Weekly that schools in the Maitland local government area have adequate capacity to accommodate all students.

The spokesperson added that the department will continue to work closely to ensure growth is monitored and enrollment demands are catered for.

They also noted that there are currently no plans for major capital works at Gillieston Public School.

However, in the last two years, major school upgrades have been delivered in the surrounding areas, including Bolwarra Public School, Kurri Kurri High School, Nulkaba Public School, and Rutherford Public School.

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