Wednesday, 12 October 2016


The Andrews government hopes to alleviate some of this stress by building four new inner-city schools.

It announced on Tuesday that "over the next few years" a primary school in the Docklands, a primary and secondary school at Fishermans Bend and a new primary school in North Melbourne would be built to accommodate the student boom.

The government will also purchase a new site to expand the popular Albert Park College.

It follows a relentless campaign from Docklands parents, who have been crying out for a new school for 15 years. Successive governments have promised these families a school, and three studies into the sought-after education facility have been commissioned.

Frustrated parents at North Melbourne Primary – who claim free range chickens have better rights than their children in cramped classrooms – have also been fighting for new inner-city schools to ease the overcrowding. Students have complained of sore backs from sitting on the classroom floor, because there are not enough seats.

Education Minister James Merlino said the Docklands school was the most advanced, and would open its doors to students in about two years. A site will be purchased within six months, and five potential locations have been identified. The sites are commercial in confidence and it is not known how much the new school will cost, with funding to be considered ahead of the budget. 

It could be a vertical school and Mr Merlino did not rule out delivering it via a public private partnership. Planning will also start for the other three schools. 

"Enrolment growth right across Melbourne and Victoria is just extraordinary," Mr Merlino said. "We are seeing that pressure right here in the inner-city, in the growth corridors of Melbourne and in our growing regional cities."

By 2020, Victorian schools will need to accommodate a record 1 million students. In the next five years, schools will need to absorb an extra 90,000 students. 

Mr Merlino said the new schools would create 5000 new places for students.

Enrolment zones have also been changed to let Docklands families send their children to University High and Ferrars Street Primary School.  

City Schools 4 City Kids co-founder Denise Fung-Henderson said that while she welcomed the new Docklands primary school, she was disappointed it was not a P-12 school.

"What happens when they reach secondary school age?"

She questioned whether the already full University High School would be able to accommodate Docklands students.

She said school played an important role in connecting families to their community, and that had been missing in the Docklands.

Greens Melbourne MP Ellen Sandell said the schools were long overdue and the government needed to provide certainty about when they would open.  

"Parents will breathe a sigh of relief that the government may finally buy a school site in the Docklands, but can't plan for their children's education until they know when these schools will open," she said. 


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