Buildings & Grounds Committee

Enrolment Pressures Issues Paper-Call for Feedback

Pam, Buildings & Grounds Committee.

1 June 2016

School Council has developed an issues paper in response to the enrolment pressures our school. Please see this below dated 31 May 2016.

Feedback on these priorities, and whether there are any other strategic options that are available for our school community to pursue can be provided via:

Background

This paper was initially developed by the Building and Grounds subcommittee which has been endorsed at the last school council meeting.

Consultation period: Wednesday, 1 June 2016 until the end of term, Friday, 24 June, 2106. 

The short time frames for responses are due to us wishing to maximise opportunities that may be presented  through the federal election and end of year local government elections.  Our approach to consultation has been shaped by the IAP2’s public participation framework.  Following this consultation process we will keep you informed, listen to and acknowledge concerns and aspirations and provide feedback on how your input influenced our priorities.

Let the Department of Education know your opinions.
You are also encouraged to provide feedback to the department who are conducting a second review for the provision of a school within the Docklands and the immediate surrounding suburbs of North Melbourne, West Melbourne, Melbourne, Parkville and Flemington:
http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/infrastructure/Pages/reviewdocklands.aspx

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2016 NMPS School Council Enrolment Pressures Issues Paper

Pam, Buildings & Grounds Committee.

31 May 2016

Background

For many years the growth in the number of school aged children in Victoria remained relatively stable.  Within the suburbs of North and West Melbourne there were three primary schools but due to the policy of the state government in the 1990s the declining enrolments resulted in the decision to close two of the primary schools leaving North Melbourne Primary School open.  Until six years ago the numbers were relatively stable.  The enrolments have rapidly increased due to the families moving back into the CBD and the development of apartments resulting in the City of Melbourne now being projected to be the seventh fastest growing municipality in Victoria for 5 to 19 year olds between 2016 and 2031.

During 2014 and 2015 the school council requested meetings with DET representatives and the Minister of Education and/or his advisors to express their concern about the apparent lack of strategic responses to the looming enrolment issues for NMPS.  The previous council has implemented the following strategies and outcomes:

  • Refusal to accept more demountable classrooms as the Council was not prepared to lose the safe and secure playground spaces provided for our children.
  • In 2015 School Council also discussed that simply ‘dumping’ more demountable classrooms would just provide increased amenity that would cause us to accept  more students and that the best solution would be the capping of our numbers and/or reducing the boundary area.
  • School Council in 2014 supported a motion asking DET to ensure that the neighbouring schools are ‘attractive to families seeking enrolment’; perhaps the $10million being spent on Carlton is part of this.
  • School Council have proposed to DET that a second campus of NMPS could be created; families were not in favour of this solution. If only the old West Melbourne could be recommissioned as a Prep – Two campus.
  • School Council have written twice to the Minister requesting he visit the school. Both Minister Merlino and his predecessor visited and were very impressed with the school facilities.
  • James Milne (SC President) and Sally met in 2014 with the new DET facilities manager and assistant regional director; they were dismissive in our request for the ‘shrinking of the DNA’ or the encouragement or even enticement to move students to other local schools.
  • As part of the Executive of the Melbourne and Maribyrnong Network of schools, Sally arranged for the SWR Facilities Manager to present to all network Principals the enrolment facts in October 2015. Again the data provided indicated that a number of our schools were at risk of overcrowding and losing playground facility; no further action taken by DET.
  • In November 2015 Sally sent the SWR Facilities Manager an email indicating that our indicative numbers were looking like being over 730 students an increase in 100 students; the reply was that nothing could occur until census, the end of February 2016.
  • Representing the school Sally attended, with most other City of Melbourne and Network schools; the workshop conducted to discs enrolment pressure and the feasibility of a Docklands school in 2015.

Current situation

In recent years actual numbers turning up in February have been down by about 10% of the enrolments. In 2014 twenty new children came in across the school; with a vast number of new enrolments in grade six; a significant number came from Carlton PS.  In 2016 most enrolled. Local students attended. The confirmed current numbers are:

Prep     135

Year 1  106

Year 2  99

Year 3  95

Year 4  98

Year 5  103

Year 6   93

            729

The 2016 intake of Prep students is approximately 40% higher than for the last six years.

Short term options: May-December 2016

1.1 Capacity analysis

B G Capacity analysis 2016

Enrolments2016

As illustrated above the forecast population growth for our area is expected to be significant. North Melbourne Primary School is expected to have a deficit of approximately 1,500 enrolments by 2031.  What is alarming is that DET have not projected our current enrolment figures of 740 in their planning therefore it is reasonable to predict the deficit will be much higher than forecasted.   We are at capacity and cannot accommodate more children without significant compromise to our children’s primary school learning experience.

Recommendation 1.1.1: Mobilise a parent group to develop a political advocacy response to our enrolment pressures.

1.2   Student address analysis:

The NMPS has approximately 15 percent of students attending who reside outside of the Designated Neighbourhood Area (DNA).   For the last four years the school has been actively promoting the policy to only enrol children who live within the DNA.

Recommendation 1.2.1: Conduct an analysis of the addresses of enrolments. 

1.3 Insufficient capacity to accommodate immediate enrolment pressures:

NMPS currently relies on relocatable classrooms to achieve total capacity. NMPS requires relocatable classrooms to meet local DNA demand in the short-medium term. 

Recommendation 1.3.1: NMPS to contact DET requesting that NMPS are prioritised to receive relocatable classrooms to accommodate our 2016 enrolments. Ensure all new and existing relocatable classrooms are compliant with MCC building permit requirements and fire regulations.

Recommendation 1.3.2: Explore alternative car parking options with MCC for school staff.

Medium term options 2017-2020

2.1 2016 Prep enrolment cohort:

Recommendation 2.1.1: In addition to the annual planning that occurs for the following year, this Prep cohort requires additional planning given the extraordinarily high enrolment numbers.

2.2 Advocate to cap numbers: 

The expediential enrolment pressures significant reduce the play and activity space for the children as relocatable classrooms encroach on their play space.

Recommendation 2.2.1: Our children have the right to have adequate safe play space within the school grounds.  This is to be used as the basis for a capping on numbers. 

2.3 Increase the space NMPS students have to learn:

Recommendation 2.3.1: Develop a formal access arrangement with Melbourne City Council to increase develop space surrounding the school allocated to cars to be used community garden space and additional passive recreation to be shared between community and the school.

Recommendation 2.3.2: Develop a formal arrangement with Melbourne City Council Explore for classes to access infrastructure including libraries; gymnasiums; parklands; and recreation spaces.  In this agreement explore a reciprocal arrangement enabling the community to access the school grounds afterhours and on weekends.

2.4 Trends in access:

Recommendation 2.4.1: Reduce the NMPS designated neighbourhood area (DNA) to direct students to Debney Meadows PS - 2.6 kms and Carlton PS - 2.7 kms away, both with significant capacity contributing to more sustainable enrolment numbers.

Recommendation 2.4.2: Council to explore the feasibility of a second school campus for NMPS.

Long term options 2020-2026

3.1 Influence planning for future populations of children:

North Melbourne Primary School DRU: By 2031 there is an expected shortfall of approximately 1,500 enrolment places as a result of significant population growth. North Melbourne Primary School has enrolment forecasts beyond the local DNA government primary school demand, indicating that it is a school of choice and draws families from outside its local DNA.

Recommendation 3.1.1: School Council to have representation on strategic planning committee/s for additional schools for the existing and predicted CBD and North/West Melbourne populations.