Sharing school and community facilities

1 November 2017  

 

Schools and the community would benefit if school facilities were shared more often, according to a report released today by NSW Auditor-General, Margaret Crawford. 

The Department of Education’s ‘Community Use of School Facilities Policy’ encourages but does not require schools to share facilities. Sharing depends heavily on the willingness of school principals and there are few incentives. There are many challenges in developing agreements with community users and there is only limited support available from the Department.

There are strategies and plans to support the sharing of facilities between schools and the wider community, but none are backed up with budgets, specific plans or timeframes.

The administrative burden on schools when managing shared use may be eased by the government’s recent announcement of an additional $50 million in school support funding to assist principals employ extra support staff in schools.

The findings of this report reinforce previous findings made by the Auditor General in her May 2017 report on Planning for school infrastructure. This report found that new and existing schools will need to share facilities with local councils and community groups due to a lack of available land, rising land costs and population growth in and around Sydney.

Recent policies have reduced the land-size requirements for schools on the assumption that new schools can be co-located with public assets, such as council-managed sports grounds or performing arts centres. In these cases, development and maintenance costs would be shared between the Department of Education and other users.

'In the context of a growing Sydney metropolitan population, and competing demands for land use, a collaborative, multi-agency approach is needed to ensure enough fit-for-purpose facilities are available for school students within the funding framework proposed in the School Assets Strategic Plan', the Auditor-General said.

 

Further information

A full copy of the report is available here.

Barry Underwood, Executive Officer, on 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664 and email barry.underwood@audit.nsw.gov.au.

 

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