High school set to burst
A SENIOR member of the Queensland Teachers’ Union says a plan is needed to stop Warwick State High School from becoming like a “cobbled-together, concrete Stalag 13-style industrial site”.
QTU Warwick branch sec- retary Bob Baldwin said yesterday he was severely disappointed with statements made last week by Department of Education Infrastructure Services acting deputy director-general Graham Atkins in a Daily News article.
Mr Atkins last week said “there are sufficient facilities at WSHS to meet student numbers now and into the near future”.
But Mr Baldwin yesterday begged to differ.
“The facilities’ section of the department has audited the school and their trundle wheels and tape measures reveal that everything is fine in the short term,” he said.
“Teaching and administration staff at the school have expressed their concerns about classroom space and the physical learning environment in no uncertain terms at Teachers’ Union meetings in recent times.
“Perhaps the WSHS staff are sensible enough to realise that ‘short term’ goes by very quickly and that to avert an impending crisis one needs to plan carefully and with a serious regard for the long term.
“This notion doesn’t seem to cut the mustard with our public services these days at all.”
MR Atkins advised no planning for future development was being considered as there were “sufficient facilities at WSHS to meet short-term enrolment forecasts”.
But Mr Baldwin said the WSHS would be thrown into crisis in 2014 if State Government plans to integrate Year 7 into the high school system were adopted and WSHS was forced to accommodate a perceived 200 to 250 extra students.
“This is only three years away – I think that’s pretty immediate,” Mr Baldwin said. “I guess at crisis time staff and students can expect an influx of demountable buildings to further encroach upon the limited open space currently available.
“Apparently a recent suggestion made to the department to purchase three houses on the northern side of Victoria Street (when they were for sale) to enable expansion on that side of the school was met with the same response – everything’s all right for now.”
Mr Baldwin told the Daily News the Warwick branch of the QTU would keep the pressure on the Department of Education over the issue.
“Wouldn’t it make more sense to take action now so that the children who attend WSHS in years to come might be able to enjoy a pleasant learning environment, rather than a cobbled-together, concrete, Stalag 13-style industrial site?” he questioned.
A WSHS teaching staff member, who did not wish to be identified, told the Daily News yesterday that while the school was a brilliant institution managing limited resources, things were getting close to full capacity.
The staff member said the school was currently not short of rooms, however it had reached maximum capacity with there being no spare rooms at some points during the day.
They also said the school needed to continue to offer diversity and needed specialist rooms for art, computers, manual arts, drama and science to do this.
These rooms are currently used to maximum capacity, the staff member said.
The staff member was also concerned about extra classrooms being added on to the current school block, which would put more students into smaller playground space at lunch times, and said there was a “need to forward plan to support expansion, rather than waiting for a crisis before action is taken”.