OUT CLASSED: Failure that may leave Downs lacking schools
OUR booming population is putting pressure on schools and teachers, with experts fearing we will soon have more students than schools can cope with.
This means parents may not be able to find a place for their youngsters and local schools could end up with overcrowded and under-resourced classrooms.
Toowoomba is home to 34,744 school-age children and the Lockyer Valley has 8348.
In 10 years, we will have about 54,167 students needing to squeeze into the 105 schools that service our local government areas.
Kevin Bates, president of the Queensland Teachers' Union, said the State Government would not meet population growth needs.
He said the government was relying on an "unsustainable" approach of adding temporary multistorey buildings to already overburdened campuses.
"Instead of well-planned and up-to-date school facilities, what we'll end up with is a piecemeal approach," Mr Bates said.
"Many of our schools were built in the 1950s-60s and have had very little work done to them in the interim."
Demographer Bernard Salt said there was a risk of teachers working in "congested, substandard buildings" unless the State Government changed its approach to building schools.
Toowoomba QTU organiser Zeb Sugden said the region's projected growth was a serious concern, as Centenary and Harristown's state schools had reached enrolments of more than 1700 students each.
More than $24 million has been allocated for upgrades to both schools.
"Taking into account the available capacity within the existing network of state and non-state schools, one new government or non-government secondary school may be required in the south or southwest of Toowoomba between 2026 and 2036," Mr Sugden said.
The Department of Education said it was actively monitoring schools that had rising enrolments and had plans to open a further five schools across Queensland in 2021.
Education Minister Grace Grace said eight new schools were opened across the state this year.
"More and more children are choosing to attend state schools, we have seen a 10 per cent increase in our student numbers in the past five years," she said.
"We will not just sit back and let our schools become overcrowded."
Opposition education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said an LNP government would "end the divide" between the regions and cities with a school planning commission to build new schools where they were needed.
BY THE NUMBERS
Region (LGA), number of students now, students in 2031, number of schools
Mackay, 23,938, 26,680, 58
Toowoomba, 34,744, 35,594, 89
Sunshine Coast, 61,365, 77,694, 73
Fraser Coast, 18,713, 18,779, 38
Bundaberg, 17,722, 18,715, 51
Gladstone, 13,924, 13,955, 33
Rockhampton, 17,043, 18,380, 45
Ipswich, 47,641, 86,464, 71
Gympie, 9833, 9489, 31
Townsville, 39,322, 47,702, 60
Southern Downs (Warwick), 6913, 6348, 36
Maranoa, 2558, 2537, 16
Western Downs, 7611, 7610, 34
Balonne, 895, 720, 7
Cairns, 33,540, 40,058, 52
Whitsunday, 6073, 7105, 18
Livingstone (Yeppoon), 7451, 7979, 17
Central Highlands (Emerald), 6328, 5819, 28
Banana (Biloela), 2945, 2354, 16
North Burnett, 1907, 1724, 17
South Burnett, 6319, 5985, 27
Noosa, 9856, 9983, 17
Lockyer Valley, 8348, 9573, 26
Isaac (Clermont, Moranbah), 4321, 4711, 19
Somerset, 5352, 6496, 19