Ageing WA public schools set for $500 million facelift as part of coronavirus recovery plan

Aug 04, 2020

By ABC Net

More than 60 aging public schools across Western Australia will receive almost $500 million to upgrade facilities and cope with increased enrolments, the State Government has announced.

Key points:

  • The money will be spent on 46 schools in the Perth area and 17 in regional WA
  • Upgrades include new classrooms, ovals, halls and performing arts spaces
  • The work is part of the Government's COVID-19 economic recovery plan

One in two schools across WA are more than 50 years old, Education Minister Sue Ellery said, and some required a lot of work to be done.

She said some schools would also be targeted to increase capacity as facilities had not kept up with rising student numbers.

"There's a lot of work to be done in some of those older schools, but we also know we've got schools where there are enrolment pressures and we're adding extra classroom blocks or science areas," she said.

"It's important to make sure that those kids are learning in authentic learning environments."

Teenage students solve maths problems in workbooks.

New classrooms feature among details of the school projects already announced.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

Ms Ellery said funding would also be allocated where necessary to meet demand in areas where the population was growing.

Details of the projects already announced include new classrooms, sport ovals and halls and performing arts spaces.

The investment is the latest in a series of funding announcements made by the WA Government as part of its COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

Bid to solve 'long-term problems': Premier

The money will be spent over the next four years on 46 schools in the Perth area and 17 in regional WA.

Premier Mark McGowan said the investment was expected to create 1,850 jobs, with work set to begin this financial year.

Premier Mark McGowan stands wearing a suit listening to a student read from a piece of paper at Kewdale Primary School.

The WA Premier says the work will help ensure students get "a first-class education".(ABC News: Jacob Kagi)

He said it was part of the Government's plan to create jobs while spending on long-term needs of the state.

"It's not just about creating jobs, but also about solving long-term problems and making sure that we are able to provide a first-class education, with outstanding buildings, to students in public schools all over Western Australia," he said.

"Older schools will be the big beneficiaries here. Those schools that might have been built in the 50s, 60s or 70s that need major refurbishments all over Western Australia are going to be the big beneficiaries."

List of targeted schools released

The Government released a list of some of the projects that would be undertaken:

  • Carine Senior High School — $32 million major upgrade to provide classrooms and facilities for up to 600 students
  • Albany Senior High School — $6.3 million for a new performing arts centre
  • Kalamunda Senior High School — $18.3 million rebuild of education support facilities and new classrooms
  • Lynwood Senior High School — $18.3 million for a new performing arts centre, sports hall and classroom building
  • Melville Senior High School — $925,000 for refurbishment of technical classrooms
  • Ocean Reef Senior High School — $5 million for a sports hall
  • Margaret River Senior High School — $6.27 million for a new full-sized sports oval
  • Bunbury Senior High School — $3.1 million for a major refurbishment of the sports hall and specialist areas
  • Karratha Senior High School — $22 million upgrade to provide new facilities to accommodate increasing enrolments
  • Joseph Banks Secondary College — $16 million new classroom building
  • Lesmurdie Primary School — $15.2 million to complete school rebuild
  • Australind Senior High School — $15 million upgrade to provide new double-storey classroom building, science and design and technology facilities
  • Eastern Hills Senior High School — $2 million for a major refurbishment to the cafeteria and specialist classrooms
  • Wanneroo Secondary College — $5 million for a new performing arts centre and cafeteria
  • Willetton Senior High School — $12.5 million for a Stage 3 — classroom block
  • Wickham Primary School — $3.5 million for a new early childhood education centre
  • Dianella Secondary College — $5.3 million for a new performing arts centre
  • Pinjarra Senior High School — $10.4 million for a new performing arts centre and sports hall
  • Westminster Primary School — $10 million for school rebuild

School upgrades designed to boost industry

Mr McGowan said the investment was one of a number of measures taken to try and avoid widespread bankruptcies it was feared the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to.

"We're trying to focus much of what we do on capital works which fix longstanding problems and provide an investment pipeline for industry and also ensure there's a longstanding benefit," he said.

"We've got to get people back to work now. We've got to get a pipeline of investment now. We can't wait till later.

"With these projects, sometimes, it takes months to get tenders out there and get things underway, sometimes it could take years."

Master Builders WA executive director John Gelavis said the work would bolster confidence in the industry.

"The school upgrade package promises work for 1,850 brickies, electricians, plumbers and other tradies and apprentices," he said.

"Building work creates an economic multiplier effect which flows on to local businesses and the entire community."

President of the State Schools Teachers Union of WA (SSTUWA) Pat Byrne said teachers would be very happy with the announcement.

"For some of the schools that have been listed it's long overdue, and we're delighted to see a range of different projects that have been provided for, including creative arts centres, sports facilities, industrial design facilities," she said.

"These are issues that needed to be addressed for a very long time, we're very, very pleased that the Government has finally recognised the importance of that."

But Ms Byrne said it was vital funding was allocated to also ensure adequate staffing levels at schools in areas with growing populations.

The post about “Ageing WA public schools set for $500 million facelift as part of coronavirus recovery plan" first appeared on the ABC Net website.

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