We need a city school

WITH hordes of kids sprouting like weeds across the inner-city, architect Eamon Broderick says the place is well overdue its own primary school.

A member of the Council of Education Facility Planners International, he held a workshop in Mt Lawley last week to advance the idea with local principals, parents and students.

He says North Perth and Mt Hawthorn primary schools are already full to bursting and littered with demountables.

The increasing push for medium- and high-density living across the inner-city will see even more kids calling the place home in years to come.

Perth federal Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan says the issue’s been kicked around for years, and was a hot topic during her time as mayor of Vincent.

“Every second woman was in foal, you could smell the oxytocin,” she told the gathering.

She says officials in state government departments kept saying “no, no, it’s not a problem,” despite health department records showing booming pregnancies and births.

Ms MacTiernan says planners didn’t seem to appreciate that people living in modest flats want kids too, and aren’t necessarily going to shift to the outer ‘burbs to raise them.

Mr Broderick told the workshop there are four realistic possibilities for a new school site:

• 45 St Georges Terrace. It’s the old HQ for the Reserve Bank but has no open land so play is a problem;

• 101 St Georges Terrace. It’s the old WA Club HQ. No play space but plenty of room for a billiards table;

• two empty PMH buildings. But they’re in Subiaco, a long way for many.

01. 873NEWS

• Alannah MacTiernan addresses a Council of Education Facility Planners International forum of students, principals and parents to discuss the need for a new city school. Photo supplied

Mr Broderick says folk at the workshop quickly figured out traditional notions about classroom size and format may have to be put aside. “With new ways of learning, [they] are quite limiting for what a school can do.”

Montessori and other alternative education systems have long shed the 30-kids-to-a-class with a droning teacher model.

Flexibility may be key to success for a new inner-city school that can’t fit the cookie-cutter template.

Creative solutions such as rooftop gardens or strolling to Langley Park could address concerns about kids getting fresh air and exercise.

Likewise, an inner-city school may not need its own library with Perth city council building a big new one on St Georges Terrace,  just a couple minutes’ walk from two of the suggested sites.  Another difficulty with any inner-city school is traffic congestion and safety: Mr Broderick says walking to school fixes congestion and traffic in the CBD at peak hour is also often at a standstill so can be relatively safe to negotiate.

He says many parents are unreasonably frightened of the white-van man whisking their child away: it’s a crippling fear that has to be addressed, given the miniscule chance of it happening significantly impacts a range of parental decisions.

Mr Broderick hopes the forum planted some seeds to get things moving soon. “The time is pretty much now.”

by DAVID BELL

The Voice Says…
IT’S been clear for years that Perth CBD and the inner suburbs of neighbouring Vincent are booming with young families.
For far too long governments—both Labor and Liberal—have relied on nearby private schools to do their job for them. But a private education should be a choice, not the only option.
The state government has a responsibiltiy to provide a quality public education for local children and it must start planning immediately to build a city primary school. We don’t need more wasted years of feasibility studies. We need kids in classrooms ASAP.

Pekho 10x3

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