Funds to upgrade Parramatta East Public School to multi-level classrooms, hall and toilets

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Parramatta East Public School (PEPS) is an exemplary local school struggling with an exponential growth in students and desperately in need of an upgrade in core infrastructure.  We experience classroom shortages each year and have insufficient bathroom and hall facilities.  Alarmingly there are no current plans to upgrade the school.  Urgent action and funding is needed now to build multi-level classrooms and redevelop the hall and toilets.

We average 23% growth in students each year.  To compensate 3 to 4 demountables are also installed each year.  Our school is now comprised of 80% demountables (1) well in excess of the state average of less than 10% (2).  

My grade one child was in one of two classes that began this school year with no classroom.  We were advised they were to occupy a portion of the library for two weeks temporarily until a demountable was installed.  This time frame was grossly extended until it spanned the entire first term and went two weeks into second term.  Unfortunately even after being allocated this derelict demountable it was sorely deficient in basics like path, access ramps and even bag hooks.  Classes were further interrupted on multiple occasions to install these essentials and almost coincided with NAPLAN testing.  During this period I had a notably anxious child who simply could not concentrate, it is only now after fifteen weeks of school that he has finally settled back into learning.

Due to the sheer number of demountables at PEPS a large portion of outdoor space previously used as a playground and for outdoor sports has been lost.  It is an unsightly and ever growing cluster that unfortunately has become a permanent fixture despite a 2018 NSW Government policy review (3) confirming they were only ever intended as temporary measures.  

The school hall is unable to accommodate students, let alone any functions where parents are to attend.  Inevitably the onus falls on our overstretched teachers to work out the logistics of running functions, assemblies and activities in alternate phases.  The adjacent outdoor seating area is relied on heavily due to inadequacy of the hall but this is susceptible to weather deviations be it summer heat, rain or cold winds.  In short PEPS has well and truly outgrown the hall.  

Lastly our only toilet block is comprised of 7 cubicles for girls and 3 for boys including 1 urinal.  As I am not privy to the Department of Education’s building codes for illustrative purposes I will apply the minimum requirements as set out by Safe Work Australia in their current National Construction Code for workplaces (4).  The abovementioned block in this instance is fit only for 85 boys and 105 girls.  It is incredible our 625 students and not to mention staff manage to function.  I am astutely aware of clauses which dictate that current Education Facilities Standards and Guidelines cannot be retroactively applied to schools that predate such standards (5).  Nevertheless such disclaimers are a deplorable excuse for overlooking the blatant fact we have outgrown the toilets too.  

Personally myself and many other parents are frightened for the future of PEPS as there are no funds or current plans for an upgrade.  Ad hoc demountables are an obvious interim measure that is wholly disruptive and unsustainable.  Teachers can only compensate so much before activities are simply cancelled due to simple lack of classrooms and space, something my child has experienced the full brunt of despite only having just begun his school career.  The disruption that my son and many other students endured waiting more than twelve weeks for a demountable allocation is disheartening and I fear something that will occur routinely at our school until action is taken.

We are at full capacity and need help now.  Please sign this petition and support me to bring change for PEPS.  For those who have signed the concurrent paper petition already thank you, share this on to friends, colleagues and family.

 

References

Cover image Oran Park Public School courtesy of Imgur

(1) 26 Classrooms in total: 21 demountables, 5 brick.
(2) NSW Department of Education Demountable accommodation in government schools (2015-2016) updated 6/9/2018.  5,192 demountables in use as of July 2016.  44,767 teaching spaces in schools.  This equates to approximately 9.5% demountables to permanent teaching spaces.
(3) NSW Department of Education Demountable Accommodation for Schools Policy DOC16/1020453 implemented 5/9/2008, last updated 14/2/2018.  “clarifying that demountables may only be used where local enrolments exceed the availability of permanent accommodation”. https://education.nsw.gov.au/policy-library/policies/demountable-accommodation-for-schools-and-tafe-institutes?type=history
(4) Safe Work Australia established 2009, Managing the Work Environment and Facilities Code of Practice. 3.3 Toilets. Number of Toilets.  National Construction Code of Australia sets out minimum standards of 1 closet pan per 20 males, 1 urinal per 25 males and 1 closet pan per 15 females.  https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/system/files/documents/1702/managing-work-environment-facilities.docx
(5) NSW Department of Education.  Education Facilities Standards and Guidelines. “The EFSG is not developed to be a minimum standard or an indication of entitlement. It should therefore not be used as a benchmark by which current schools are assessed.”  https://efsg.det.nsw.edu.au/