Planning for school infrastructure

The Department of Education proposes to fundamentally reform school infrastructure planning and delivery to meet the future demand for student places, and to overcome chronic under-investment for much of the last decade. To do this, it will need to spend much more than it has been receiving to date. These are the main findings of a report released today by Acting NSW Auditor-General, Ian Goodwin.

Over the next 15 years, the student population in NSW is projected to grow by 21 per cent to nearly 1.5 million students. Over 80 per cent of this is expected to be in the Sydney metropolitan area. Many more classrooms will be needed, with many others requiring renovation.

The Department has developed a School Assets Strategic Plan to deliver sufficient fit-for-purpose student learning spaces when and where needed up to 2031. This is a good plan and has benefited from expert input and validation of assumptions, proposed solutions and likely costs. It is the first such plan for the Department.

To make any substantial savings beyond those incorporated in the Plan, the Department may need to consider changing operational policies and practices to increase the utilisation of existing infrastructure and reduce the need for new infrastructure.

The Plan proposes several changes to the way schools are planned, designed, built, managed and funded. Initiatives include:

  • increasing the maximum number of students in new and redeveloped schools
  • a stronger emphasis on redeveloping schools
  • smaller, more intensely developed sites
  • changing and enforcing school catchments
  • increased partnership with the private sector
  • more recycling of school assets to deliver better facilities
  • moving towards planning on a cluster basis, rather than a school-by-school basis.

This new approach to school infrastructure planning and delivery is more economical than the Department's current practice.

Further information

Barry Underwood, Executive Officer, on 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664 and email