Labor to establish $15 million fund to encourage wider community use of school facilities

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A Foley Labor Government will provide financial incentives for schools to open up their facilities outside of school hours for use by the wider community.

Labor will encourage the use of schools as community facilities by establishing a $15 million School Facilities Investment Fund. 

The equipment and teaching resources in schools can be expensive to purchase and maintain to a high standard. Labor will provide a financial incentive to encourage principals and schools to make their facilities more accessible to local communities.

School facilities that could be better utilised by local communities in non-school hours include halls, sporting fields, classrooms and covered outdoor learning areas.

Uses could include community meeting spaces, sporting fixtures and competitions, holiday care, before and after school care, parking for major events or on weekends in congestion hotspots, training centres for seniors and shared performing arts centres.

Labor will consult widely and develop a streamlined set of guidelines to assist schools to make their facilities available to community groups. These guidelines will include information on the costs of hiring facilities, safety, insurance, security and suggestions on how to promote the initiative to the community.

A Foley Labor Government will immediately form a working party within the Department to determine the best model for incentive grants.

Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley:

“Schools are valuable public assets and the heart of our communities.

“Under Labor, schools will be encouraged to make facilities like sporting fields, classrooms and school halls available for use by the wider community.

“After the final bell rings, on weekends and during the holidays so many of our schools lay dormant, locked away from the local community.

“There is definite potential to unlock these assets for wider community use, while at the same time allowing principals to tap into valuable sources of extra money for their school.

“This is part of Labor’s new approach to education in NSW.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Education Minister Ryan Park:

“Priority will always be given to school programs and established extra-curricular activities.

“It can be expensive to maintain school facilities to a high standard – that’s why Labor will give grants to schools that choose to make their facilities available to the wider community.  

“We will develop guidelines to help schools build partnerships with their local communities.

“Fostering innovative partnerships between schools and local communities in a new approach to education in NSW.

“Many schools are already hiring out their facilities – making, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of dollars that is re-invested into facilities and resources for students.”

Key Facts:

  • Labor’s School Facilities Investment Fund will provide $15 million in incentive payments, based on a model to be determined by a working party within the Department.
  • Schools currently raise around $19 million a year from hiring out facilities to local community members and groups.
  • Schools often sit empty after hours, leaving their facilities idle. Many schools have fostered partnerships with local community groups and successfully hired out facilities like classrooms and sporting fields – a trend Labor wants to see increase.
  • The incentive scheme will be targeted at those schools that currently raise little or no funds for hiring out their facilities and will be designed in consultation with school principals.