Swan Hills candidate blasts Government over number of demountable classrooms

Makybe Rise Primary School has 27 transportables but is not experiencing overcrowding, according to principal Steph McDonald.
Makybe Rise Primary School has 27 transportables but is not experiencing overcrowding, according to principal Steph McDonald.

SWAN Hills candidate Jessica Shaw claims the Liberal Government has failed to provide for students in the area, after it was revealed this week more than 1800 transportable classrooms are in use at Western Australian schools.

Ms Shaw said Ellenbrook Secondary College, Ellen Stirling Primary School and Aveley Primary School had 29 demountables in total on their grounds.

“Under the Liberal Government, the number of schools with more than 10 transportable classrooms or more has increased,” she said.

“Nearly 50 WA public schools have more than 10 transportable classrooms, while eight schools have 20 or more.

“Ellenbrook Secondary College had 14 at the start of 2016.”

However, Education Minister Peter Collier said on radio this week that those figures were significantly down over the last eight years.

“Numbers have declined since we took office in 2008,” he said.

“Out of 254,000 students in 2008, there were 1800 demountables, whereas this year there are 1833, but we’ve seen an increase of 42,000 students.

“So in fact the number of students per demountable has actually declined.”

Ms Shaw said the Government had not invested enough into growing suburbs like Ellenbrook.

“Too many transportable classrooms encroach on student’s play space and do not have infrastructure such as extra toilets and walkways,” she said.

“When schools are using transportable classrooms year after year, that’s not to meet a short term increase in enrolments, it’s just poor planning.

“Under the previous Labor Government six schools were being built a year, under this government it has fallen to just three a year.”

Mr Collier admitted population numbers were increasing rapidly, but said demountable classrooms offered the best solution for combating the increase.

“We’ve had enormous growth in Western Australia, especially in the north and southern suburbs,” he said.

“And we are building new schools.

“We’ve opened 41 so far, and we have another 14 primary schools opening in next three years, as well as seven secondary schools.

“It would be a complete waste of money for the Department of Education if we built new classrooms to cater for say 500 extra students.

“We are looking at the growth process, and say after three or four years maybe we would need a rebuild in this particular area, but to build based on a short-term growth spurt would just be really irresponsible.”