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A SCHOOL Infrastructure NSW report incorporating the Newcastle Education Precinct concluded "there is no pressing need for a new primary school" in the city.
The Newcastle Herald has obtained a copy of the School Infrastructure NSW Assurance Review Point 0 Service Need Readiness Review Report, dated May 11, 2020, which was in the documents the government unsuccessfully tried to keep confidential, claiming privilege.
The report said the review team had concluded "there is no pressing need for a new primary school in Newcastle, but there is a real need to master plan for an Education Precinct that captures broader educational partnership opportunities".
"As a potential additional response to the announcement, consideration should be given to a program of upgrade works at Newcastle High School," the report said.
On this issue:'Limited justification' for new Newcastle primary school
"The opportunity exists to progress a strategic business case encompassing options to meet both primary and secondary needs with a focus on master planning the precinct."
"There is need to prioritise investments in a program of primary school core facility upgrades to better address regional versus urban inequity matters that affect educational outcomes and operational models."
It said consideration should be given to reviewing the fitness for purpose of the three Schools for Specific Purposes in the Hunter, given the growth in demand.
It "there has been no ongoing engagement with local educational representatives" since the June 2018 announcement of the Newcastle Education Precinct.
The report said while "student by area projections" for the 10 primary schools in the school catchment group indicated "slight" growth of around four per cent to 2036, enrolment projections are at 7.5 per cent in the short-term, to 2024.
The report said "the service need exists in terms of a programme of core facility upgrades".
"From the data provided and interview feedback, there was no need for a new primary school required in the next 10-15 years when non-infrastructure processes (such as catchment boundary changes) could effectively manage demand," it said.
"It is not necessary to include a primary school in the Newcastle Education Precinct... secondary drivers relating to asset suitability and equity could be incorporated into an asset investment program targeting the issue, such as the (former) demountable replacement program."
The report said "there is no immediate need for the development of the precinct", but "it is acknowledged that master planning needs to occur including ensuring land holdings are protected as the CBD continues to grow".
Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said the government had "known for some time that the primary school was on the chopping block but have chosen to keep the community in the dark".
"We already have many schools who would love to see some upgrades, but without a new school an even larger investment will be needed to give them the facilities they will need in a growing city," he said.
"Shifting the enrolment zones is a short-term solution to managing school populations, and it's not every day that you get to masterplan a world-class education precinct.
"If all the planning work is happening and money is being spent now surely you would be taking the opportunity to future-proof this precinct to meet the long-term needs of a city.
"Our kids deserve access to world-class education facilities and I know the Minister for Education understands this".
Read more on this issue: Your Right to Know
- Newcastle in line for new public school as part of $6 billion NSW budget allocation
- Your Right to Know: Government considered relocating Newcastle High under education plan
- Your Right to Know: Newcastle East calls for squeeze to be eased on crowded school
- Government told to review decision not to release documents about Newcastle Education Precinct
- Government 'digs heels in' over access to Newcastle Education Precinct documents
- Government agrees to produce papers on Newcastle Education Precinct
- School's out: government's secret decision on Newcastle Education Precinct revealed
- Government loses bid to keep Newcastle Education Precinct documents confidential