Newcastle in line for new public school as part of $6 billion NSW budget allocation

Windfall: Premier Gladys Berejiklian,  Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Education Rob Stokes say the budget will have $6 billion for new and upgraded schools, plus $160 million for maintenance. Picture: Simon Bullard
Windfall: Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Education Rob Stokes say the budget will have $6 billion for new and upgraded schools, plus $160 million for maintenance. Picture: Simon Bullard

NEWCASTLE has been earmarked to receive its first new public school in at least five years, to be built as the centrepiece of an education precinct and designed to meet future enrolment growth.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Minister for Education Rob Stokes and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announced the government will spend a record $6 billion over four years to deliver more than 170 new and upgraded schools across NSW, creating an extra 2000 classrooms for almost 44,000 more students.

They said this includes “the establishment of a new education precinct including a new public school to meet future enrolment growth and upgrading Newcastle High School with expanded community facilities”.

A Department of Education spokesperson said the precinct would be “prioritised for planning” this year, but did not respond to questions about whether the school would be primary or secondary, tied to Newcastle High, or confirm possible locations. 

“The planned education precinct in Newcastle will investigate opportunities where students of all ages, business, industry and the community can work together, creating world class learning environments to benefit NSW now and in the future,” the spokesperson said.

Newcastle High principal Nathan Towney said he welcomed the investment.

“We do know there’s been some talk about looking at upgrading our site, which is something we’re really excited about,” he said.

“In term of what that’s going to look like, we don’t know the detail, but it would be really exciting for our learning community.”

NSW public school enrolments are set to surge by 21 per cent, or 164,000 pupils, by 2031. Several Newcastle schools are already operating above their enrolment ceiling.

“Wherever there is community growth, facilities have to respond to that growth,” Mr Towney said. “Where there is demand, there has to be a response. I think this will be welcomed by the community.”

During this year, planning will start on 20 school projects and work will begin on 40. This includes already-announced upgrades to Callaghan College Jesmond campus and Speers Point, Wangi Wangi, Nulkaba and Ashtonfield public schools.

Shadow Minister for the Hunter Kate Washington criticised the government for “dressing up” Thursday’s announcement by “mixing in existing projects, some of which were meant to be completed last year”. 

Work is underway on more than 110 projects, including at Belmont High, Hunter School of the Performing Arts, Hunter Sports High and Bolwarra, Newcastle East and Rutherford public schools.

Wiripaang was the last public school to open in the region, in 2013. It was born from a merger of two schools.

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