Labor slams number of demountables in Tamworth schools

REBUILD: A Department of Education spokesman said demountables were brought into Oxley High School following a fire.

REBUILD: A Department of Education spokesman said demountables were brought into Oxley High School following a fire.

TAMWORTH schools are filling up fast with playgrounds crowded by demountable classrooms, leaving students with little room to play, the Labor party has claimed.

New figures obtained recently by the NSW opposition have uncovered the Tamworth schools with the most demountable classrooms.

There are 41 of the demountable buildings in Tamworth electorate schools.

Among the schools with the most demountable blocks are Oxley High School and Westdale Public School; both with seven each.

Tamworth and Gunnedah South public schools have six each and Tamworth South Public School has four.

Labor’s Member of the Legislative Council for the Tamworth district, Daniel Mookhey, described the figures as “staggering”.

“Demountables are meant to be a temporary solution for growing communities, but what we see here is a reliance on making cheap and ineffective demountables a permanent structure within schools,” Mr Mookhey said.

“This Government has consistently underestimated the popularity of public schools.

“Now its record of under-investment in school building means kids in Tamworth learn in a sea of demountables that clog playground space.”

Mr Mookhey said building a new school in Tamworth might not be the answer.

"My worry is any new school in Tamworth will also get left behind,” he said.

In questions raised by The Leader on Thursday, a Department of Education and Communities spokesman said there were no issues with playground space identified in Tamworth’s public schools.

“Oxley High School is an exceptional case when one of the sports ovals was occupied temporarily by demountables, which were used to accommodate students for the rebuilding following the fire and replacement of Block C,” the spokesperson said.

“The department uses demountable buildings to manage changing student enrolment patterns, provide accommodation to meet emergency needs arising from fires or natural disasters, and temporary accommodation needs resulting from capital works and maintenance projects.”

“All demountable classrooms are air-conditioned and maintained regularly,” the spokesperson confirmed.

The department spokesperson said population growth was regularly monitored to determine what resources were needed and school demountable classrooms were also replaced with permanent facilities through the department’s capital works programs.

“The department monitors population and development trends so that it can plan to meet enrolment needs in schools across NSW. There is currently capacity at Tamworth schools to meet demand,” the spokesperson said.

“Local public schools have enjoyed structural additions to improve facilities and expand accommodation. 

“In recent years this has included: relocating Bullimbal School to a state-of-the-art purpose-built school for students with disabilities, a complete rebuild of Parry School, creating four new classroom spaces at Tamworth West Public School, conversion of spaces into accessible amenities for students with disabilities and provision of walkways to link classrooms and improve the amenity of built environment at schools.”

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