15 December 2022

'It's exhausting': Jerrabomberra parents frustrated over discovery new school will have no lockers, only one science lab

| Claire Fenwicke
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Artist's impression of school

An artist’s impression of the permanent Jerrabomberra High School, which is slated to open at the start of 2024. Image: School Infrastructure NSW.

Jerrabomberra parents have been left bewildered as they learned their new high school will be lacking certain facilities.

A recent update on the school’s progress revealed no lockers will be installed for students’ belongings, no smart boards will be installed in the shared learning spaces, and there will be only one science lab.

Jerrabomberra High School P&C president Kylie Prescott said it was frustrating they had to “continuously ask for information” throughout the project and it “wasn’t acceptable” the school would have fewer resources than surrounding educational facilities.

“Karabar High School has six science labs, Monaro High School has five,” she said.

“We’re just asking for a second science lab for a school that’s going to be located in an innovation hub; it’s only fair we have access to the same facilities.”

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Questions had also been asked about why the shared learning spaces wouldn’t have smart technology installed, and exactly what furnishings the school would receive.

“A number of other new schools have been kitted out with technology, we’re just saying ‘may we please have what others have?’,” Ms Prescott said.

“I’ve asked repeatedly for plans of the school with furnishings but we keep being told to ‘look at the website’ … well, those other schools are kitted out to the nines and I’ve asked if we’re getting that, and have been told no.

“I don’t think it’s good enough and the community is frustrated with the line that the design ‘meets the guidelines’.”

The P&C has also requested more shade for the ”social plaza” until trees have fully grown.

The community is also looking for more reassurances the school has been adequately “futureproofed” for growth, and wanted confirmation funding had actually been found.

“We’ve learned the new permanent high school will open Day 1, Term 1, 2024, which will be a wonderful event,” Ms Prescott said.

“But being ‘futureproofed’ to grow to 1000 students doesn’t mean a thing until money has been found for stage two and we’re given a timeline.”

Until concrete proof had been provided, Ms Prescott said it was difficult for the community to trust what they were being told, given past issues with communication and transparency.

“Our feelings of trust towards School Infrastructure are really low,” she said.

“It’s an issue arising from poor consultation and being told this is what we’re getting and we should be grateful … proper consultation has been lacking for years and it’s exhausting.

“We just want the same as what other schools are getting, we’re not asking for more.”

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A NSW Department of Education spokesperson said all facilities at Jerrabomberra High would meet the “current needs” of the school and were in line with the Educational Facilities and Standards Guidelines (EFSG), including the number of science labs.

“The school will be fully Wi-Fi-enabled and equipped with Mobile Learning Displays (MLDs) that can be utilised in any learning space within the school,” the spokesperson said.

“The school has been designed to accommodate 500 students and has been futureproofed for up to 1000 students.  Should the school expand, we are able to explore the provision of additional science labs, in line with the EFSG, as part of this future build.”

The permanent high school will have two science general learning spaces where future installation of a science bench with water, power and gas is possible.

Lockers are not a requirement under the EFSG; however, schools can decide to locally install lockers and can seek funding from the Education Department to do so.

There will also be one woodwork classroom, one metalwork classroom and a semi-commercial kitchen in the new high school.

The designs of internal floorplans are underway and are expected to be made available in early 2023.

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