Point Cook Schools at Breaking Point

If you’re a parent of school aged children in Point Cook, you’ll be acutely aware that the situation with public schools is at breaking point. We now have four Prep to Year nine campuses, and one senior school, which accommodates Year 10-12 students. Most of these schools are at or over capacity, and, with a huge amount of housing development still underway and planned for Point Cook’s future, the situation will go from bad to worse.

The majority of these schools now contain many more students than they were originally built for, with portable classrooms increasingly taking over open play space and vegetable gardens, such as the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden at Point Cook College that has recently been all but destroyed to bring in new buildings.

Portables take over the Kitchen Garden - Point Cook College, 2013

Portables take over the Kitchen Garden – Point Cook College, 2013

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden - Point Cook College 2010

Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden – Point Cook College, 2010

 

As far as the Point Cook Action Group is concerned, we have two major problems that need addressing with schools.

  1. Whilst ‘planning’ for further Prep-9 schools seems to be on track with two land sites allocated to future schools in current estates (as well as another planned site in the Werribee Employment Precinct on the Point Cook side of the Freeway), we desperately need funding to build these schools. This is to a) help take pressure off overcrowded existing schools, and b) keep on track for adequate number of schools for current and future population growth.
  2. There has not been any land set aside for the development of another senior campus in Point Cook. This lack of foresight demonstrates inadequate planning beyond the next five to ten years of population growth. We cannot simply turn around in ten years’ time and say, we need to build another senior school when there has been no land set aside to do so.

Population Growth

abs_censusBetween the 2006 and 2011 census time points, Point Cook welcomed over 18,000 residents. However, only two new P-9 schools were opened during this time period to accommodate the extra 5,000 residents under 15 years of age. As the current annual population increase for Wyndham is estimated at 7.1%, it is estimated that Point Cook has grown by another 4,000 residents since the 2011 census. During this time, just one new P-9 school was built to accommodate an increase of approximately 1120 residents under 15 years of age.

Current Schools

The public schools currently available in Point Cook are as follows:

School Year Levels Number of students (approx.) Year opened
Carranballac – 2 Campuses Prep-9 1425 2002 and 2006
Point Cook Senior Years 10-12 700 2008
Point Cook College Prep-9 1300 2010
Alamanda College Prep-9 (currently P-6) 400 2013

 

Planned Prep-9 Schools

There are currently two planned schools in Featherbrook and Saltwater Coast Estates, both of which are Prep-9. However, in April 2013, Premier Denis Napthine announced the funding for the schools to be opened in 2015, and neither of these sites were selected, despite the obvious need for such funding. In particular, the Featherbrook school is in desperate need.

apples_chalkboard_pvWhen Matthew Guy approved the Precinct Structure Plan for Point Cook West in November 2012, he did so with no planned school within the community, nor any promises of funding to develop the Featherbrook School site which will be an absolute necessity to cope with the further increase to our population. A quick look at the map reveals that the closest school, and therefore most likely zoned school, to this precinct is Point Cook P-9 College – arguably the most overcrowded of all the schools in Point Cook. This further exacerbates the dire need for funding for the Featherbrook school site.

Lack of planning for another Senior School

high schoolNowhere in any of the current or planned estates for Point Cook, has land been allocated to the development of another Senior School Campus. Whilst Point Cook Senior is not yet at capacity (1,100) it will only be a matter of 3-5 years before it this has been reached. Currently, it is estimated that there are around 500 prep students enrolled in our four Prep-9 schools – which in ten years’ time will account to at least 500 students potentially enrolling in Year ten at Point Cook Senior (double the current number of Year ten enrollments).

Matthew Guy was quoted in the Wyndham Weekly as saying; “The demographic of Point Cook doesn’t demand schools running from prep to Year 12. More high schools will happen when the demand comes.” Whilst this may make sense based on our current population data (although we need to remember that the 2011 Census is already two years out of date!), one does beg the question as to where ‘more high schools’ will be built if the land is not set aside for them now.

We need your help!

Pencils on a blank notebookThe Point Cook Action Group has just begun a campaign to bring these issues to the attention of the Victorian Premier, Denis Napthine, along with Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, and Minister for Education, Martin Dixon. We urge Point Cook residents to get on board and write to these politicians urging them to reconsider the long term planning for the education of our young students. Namely, to:

  • Allocate funding for at least one of the proposed Prep-9 schools in Point Cook (Featherbrook and Saltwater Coast Estates)
  • Allocate land for a proposed senior school to be build when the demographic of Point Cook requires another campus.

Points you may wish to include in your letter:

  • Our Prep-9 schools are overcrowded; more portables arriving yearly and larger classroom sizes
  • There are several estates still being developed (Saltwater Coast, Kingsford, Saratoga, Paragon, Sanctuary Lakes and Point Cook West); we need additional funding for the proposed Prep-9 schools to be built to keep up with demand and ease the burden on our existing schools
  • There was no new funding for any of the proposed Prep-9 sites announced in the next budget – we will have to wait till at least 2016 before a new school is built in Point Cook
  • Point Cook Senior has a ceiling of approximately 1,100 students, which will likely reach capacity within a few short years
  • There are no proposed sites in any Precinct Structure Plans for another senior school to be built in Point Cook
  • Where will our Year ten students go to school in five-ten years’ time when Point Cook Senior reaches breaking point?
  • Why do we not have any choice of where to send our children in Point Cook for their Senior Education?
  • If Matthew Guy will plan a senior school when the population demands it, where does he propose on building this school?

Some solutions you may wish to include in your letter:

  • SolutionAllocate some land in the new Werribee Employment Precinct Plan (Point Cook section) for a senior campus for Point Cook. If this site is not available, another site must be found and set aside for a senior campus before it’s too late.
  • When the Prep-9 school at Featherbrook is finally built, design it so it can be easily converted into a high school when the time comes. For example, as the student population ages, younger year levels can be dropped off as older year levels are added in, i.e. stop Prep intake when the time arises for Year ten intake to occur. Or, design and build the Featherbrook school as a Prep-12 school, where senior intake can come from any neighbouring schools.

Make sure you make your letter personal, and make it clear how the current and future situation affects you and your family.

Who to write to:

 Thank you all for your help in making Point Cook the best place it can be!

Comments

  1. Kay Collins says:

    It should also be a consideration that with no schools at Williams landing its only a matter of time before zoning is changed to accommodate children from there accessing the schools in point cook especially now Palmers Road makes travelling here very easy.