Qld Ed says Gympie does not need a new public high school
Much of the population growth in the Gympie region will be accommodated on Gympie’s Southside.
In light of this, the town plan has allocated land near Eel Creek Road and Lindsay Street for a new primary school - eventually - but there is no mention nor planning as yet for a third public high school, and QLD Ed and Gympie MP Tony Perrett are at odds over whether it is time to start that planning.
Mr Perrett has demanded in Parliament and in a Question on Notice this week that QLD Ed come clean about current enrolments and the true capacity of Gympie’s two biggest schools, and only two public high schools, Gympie High and James Nash, which are both reportedly bursting at the seams this year.
An official statement from QLD Ed yesterday claimed enrolment number for both schools were still being verified and would be available within the next month.
Using enrolment numbers from last year, it said Gympie High was at half capacity as it was built for 1807 students and had only 920 enrolled in 2020, and James Nash was at 76% capacity, with 1257 students in a school built to accommodate 1653 - room for another 400.
“Preliminary 2021 enrolment information shows that enrolments for Gympie SHS and James Nash SHS are still well within built capacity,” the statement said. “At this time, there is no identified need for a new school in the Gympie area.”
Unofficial reports, though, tell a different story.
Nash in particular is reported to have 100 more Year 7 students than its existing infrastructure can accommodate. The additional students are being taught in makeshift classrooms.
Mr Perrett addressed a range of burgeoning Gympie issues in a three-minute speech to the Parliament on Tuesday night and put a Question on Notice to Education Minister Grace Grace demanding to know the true enrolments of Gympie High and Nash, and their capacity.
“Gympie is experiencing high growth,” Mr Perrett said yesterday.
“Growth is putting pressure on local infrastructure and services, including our schools. I receive regular feedback about Gympie public schools, including high schools, and concerns about school sizes,” he said.
“Our three wonderful private schools already ease the burden on our local state schools and the opportunities. We need to be proactive and plan for the future.
“I raised this issue with the Minister for Education, Grace Grace, in 2018.
“In a Question on Notice I’ve asked the Minister for official enrolment figures and enrolment capacity for each school and raised it in the Parliament this week.
“There is no doubt that our local high schools are under pressure. Enrolments at James Nash and Gympie State High Schools are increasing, with private schools picking up the slack.
“Gympie has only two state high schools which offer schooling from Years 7-12. James Nash and Gympie State High Schools currently educate more than 2300 students. The two schools in Tin Can Bay and Mary Valley only provide schooling to Year 10.
“That means that students have to commute into Gympie to complete Years 11 and 12. The Bruce Highway upgrade and Gympie’s easy proximity to the Sunshine Coast has made our region increasingly attractive to families who can afford to live here and commute for work.
“Since Covid it has become an even more attractive place to live. We need to start planning now for the future education needs of children in this area before current facilities and services are unreasonably stretched.”