A Foley Labor Government would put planning at the heart of the education system to ensure that the overcrowding of schools and maintenance backlogs are a thing of the past.

In a major speech on planning for schools, NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley outlined a five-point plan on how to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of future school children in an expanding state.

Classrooms are needed for an additional 250,000 students by the year 2031 but under the NSW Government’s current spending trajectory it will take 45 years to deliver the new schools we need in 15 years’ time.

Through Freedom of Information laws Labor has established that 37 per cent of NSW schools are operating at or above 100 per cent capacity.

Despite claims of record investment in education by this Government there are still schools that have been pledged but have yet to be delivered, including one at Wentworth Point in Mr Foley’s constituency that has appeared five budgets in a row, as well as others such as Jordan Springs in Sydney’s Western Suburbs which has yet to have any money allocated for it despite multiple promises.

When public land has been identified as being available for existing schools the state government has simply ignored the school’s pleas and sold it to the private sector, as happened in Lidcombe when the motor registry next to the public school became vacant.

In his speech to the second annual School Planning Design and Construction conference Mr Foley outlined Labor’s plan to tackle Sydney’s growing population and its educational needs.

Labor initiatives and policies include, promises to:

  • Audit all public land in NSW to identify suitable locations for new schools and expansion of existing schools;
  • Empower the Greater Sydney Commission to require government departments and agencies to hand over land identified as suitable for school use;
  • Introduce a uniform schools planning code to ensure the Catholic and independent schools sectors are not frustrated by unreasonable demands from local councils when seeking to build new schools;
  • Ensure every new state school must include childcare or before and after school care facilities on site;
  • Enable schools to hire out school halls, playing fields, classrooms or other facilities for community events after hours and at the weekend and reinvest that money back into teaching.

Earlier this year Mr Foley announced two key education policies a Labor would government implement: ensuring every child has access to 15 hours of affordable pre-schooling in the year before school; and a promise that every primary school child would learn a second language.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“Education is essential to economic growth, mobility in society and, most important of all, essential to set our children up to succeed.

“Cramming our children into overcrowded classrooms is not a conducive environment for learning.

“We need big and bold thinking when it comes to school planning and that demands a clear vision for the future.

“We can and must do better in this important area.  Planning for the future education needs of our state will ensure that we have both equity and excellence in education. We need to secure the future of our state’s schools now.”