It’s that time of year again! Parents stand tearfully at the school gates and wave goodbye to their children as they start kindergarten. A time of mixed feelings and significant change in a family’s life – but a well-trodden rite of passage.
It is anticipated that across public, independent and systemic schools, enrolments in 2020 will continue to grow strongly. Approximately 815,000 NSW public sector enrolments this year is an increase of 5000 on 2019 numbers and similar growth is expected in the independent school system. This is on the back of strong independent school enrolment growth between 2017 and 2018 of 4500 students which is tipped to continue.
The growth in enrolments has come out of a national baby boom peaking around 2008. This is now being charged by a growing diverse population of immigrants coming to our country to make it their home. In fact, the state government has confirmed that NSW is experiencing its first major increase in the school-aged population since the 1950’s baby boom.
The rates of greatest growth are occurring in the suburbs, particularly on the periphery of our towns and cities. New land releases attracting young families mean that there is a constant demand for expanded school facilities to enable children to be educated close to their new homes. Single level schools with generous outdoor play areas are the traditional model in regional locations however inner-city locations need a different solution. Vertical schools where limited land is available can take advantage of accessible roof space to provide the necessary outdoor amenity essential to a child’s development.
In a previous blog I described how Edmiston Jones is responding to evolving pedagogies in the design of teaching spaces. While new schools are necessary, there is also a case for upgrading existing buildings as a sustainable approach to meet the demands of education in this new decade. We need to remember Carl Elefante’s great line, ‘the greenest building is the one already standing’ and continue to design spaces that adapt to a rapidly changing world.