COOL SCHOOLS VICTORIA - No air-con in schools is not cool.

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On extreme heat days, students are languishing in classroom temperatures well above 30 degrees.

This petition, to Victorian Education Minister James Merlino, seeks to change the Education Department’s current air conditioning policy.

The department’s policy has been in place since the 1990s and states that only public schools in designated “climate zones” (north of the Great Dividing Range), special schools and new portable classrooms are provided with cooling.

All other public schools must fund other own air conditioning. The costs can climb into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, particularly if basic infrastructure upgrades are required – a sum most cannot afford. 

The state government is spending significant money upgrading schools; we applaud this.

However, there is a risk we will end up with wonderful state-of-the-art learning spaces that are too hot to learn in.

When children get hot, their learning suffers; research shows a child's reading comprehension can begin to diminish as early as 28 degrees.

The department’s air conditioning policy, created 30 years ago, urgently needs changing in response to the increasing number of extreme heat days that most of Victoria is experiencing.

Prevention is better than cure and it should be standard that all new school buildings incorporate passive cooling and thermal insulation designs. However, for older schools with double storey buildings where the temperatures in the upper floors are often hotter than outside, providing air conditioning is essential to create suitable workplaces for students and teachers. 

Providing a comfortable and safe workplace should be a government responsibility and not something school communities should have to fund raise or redirect funds for. 

Mr Merlino, we ask you to keep our classrooms cool enough so that both our kids and their teachers can thrive – not just survive – all year round.