Eastern Suburbs Schools Campaign Gains Momentum
More kids, rampant residential development, and soaring private school fees are just some of the reasons why the Eastern Suburbs needs another public high school, a new campaign is arguing.
CLOSEast, the parent body behind the campaign, told The Beast that many schools in the area are running at or over their capacity.
Licia Heath, the campaign’s Co-Director, said the group is preparing to provide an updated submission to the Greater Sydney Commission with more data on why the need for a school is so great.
“We haven’t had any opposition… we have more kids now in the east than we did when we used to have an additional five public high schools in the east,” Ms Heath said.
“If you have three kids, the prospect of spending $34,000 each per year [on private education], is pretty unattainable for most people.”
Ms Heath’s views are supported by recent data from the Australia Bureau of Statistics, obtained by Fairfax Media.
In NSW, 50 per cent of all families earning over $156,000 a year are choosing public schools, compared to 43.6 per cent 10 years ago, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Ms Heath said a potential reason behind this trend could be that more parents are now veering away from religious education for their children.
She added that the government’s move on the issue could be a major factor in how the community votes in the next State election.
“If they choose not to commit to building a new high school in the east by September next year then we know that’s not their intent,” Ms Heath said.
“If the opposition do, then that is how we will swing our votes.”
While local ministers have shown some support for the campaign, Ms Heath said, “It’s not as much as we’d like.”
Michael Daley, Member for Maroubra and Shadow Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, said he supports CLOSEast for running this campaign.
“The Berejiklian Government keeps shoving more density into our area but they want to put their heads in the sand when it comes to new facilities like public high schools,” Minister Daley said.
“I’m 100 per cent behind them and all the other parents in our area who just want a good education for our children – it’s not too much to ask for!”
Gabrielle Upton, Member for Vaucluse, did not comment on whether enough is being done by the government to alleviate this issue.
“I look forward to meeting again with the CLOSEast group in the next few weeks to discuss their important concerns about Eastern Suburbs schools,” Minister Upton said, as if she were a robot.
The Good Schools Guide showed that within 5km distance of Minister Upton’s electorate, the only public secondary schools are Rose Bay Secondary College and Sydney Distance Education High School, which only accepts enrolments from students with special circumstances.
There are several private alternatives to choose from, including St Vincent’s College, where year 12 costs parents $19,938, or Cranbrook School, where the same costs $35,805.
Eastern Suburbs resident Ben Davies said that while he will be sending his children to fee-paying high schools, he sympathises with those being denied the choice of public education.
“Given that there’s so much development going on in the area it’s likely there will be a shortage of those kinds of resources,” Mr Davies said.
“I’m certainly sympathetic to people if they can’t find a school for their kids in the area, regardless of what your view is on education.”