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Private Members Statement - Wakehurst Electorate School Infrastructure

Today I speak about school infrastructure in my electorate of Wakehurst. Wakehurst has 26 primary and secondary schools in total, comprised of 16 primary schools, four secondary schools, and six combined primary and secondary, and 17 public schools and nine private schools. Through my time as mayor of Warringah and Northern Beaches councils I have visited most, if not all, of those schools.

I have seen firsthand the amazing work of teachers, principals and support staff, who, day in and day out, work so hard to provide the best education and wraparound support to our students. More than ever before, schools are crucial social institutions that connect all of us around our most important shared objective: nurturing and supporting children and young people to flourish and to be healthy, productive and well equipped for a fulfilling life.

I am the son of a truly dedicated and passionate public school maths teacher. My dad literally wrote textbooks in his spare time: HSC study guides and computer programming textbooks for dummies—nerd! He even tutored for free and umpired school sport—double nerd!—and also lectured part-time at university. Two of my staff, Sean and Ishbel, are the children of exceptional local schoolteachers, who have positively influenced the lives of thousands of kids on the Northern Beaches. Anyone who has seen the love and the toil of this vocation up close understands the extraordinary contribution that teachers make and why we should value them more.

I very much welcome the Government's clear focus on education and the significant uplift in teachers' wages. I am personally committed to continuing to advocate for teachers and schools during my time in this place. Whilst the human capital in teachers and students is obviously the most valuable asset in any school, the amenity and adequacy of buildings, grounds and facilities is also vitally important to ensure the best possible conditions for our children and young people to thrive. As the local representative for Wakehurst, I wanted to get a better understanding of the school infrastructure needs across the electorate to better inform my advocacy.

Recently my office coordinated a survey that sought feedback from the community on the specific school infrastructure needs across the electorate of Wakehurst. We have had a strong response to the survey so far, with hundreds of responses coming in across no less than 22 schools. I thank everyone who has taken the time to give me and my awesome staff their perspective, and a big thankyou to Sally Claydon from my electorate office—a mother with children at local schools—for leading the survey outreach.

Looking at the results so far, approximately two-thirds of the responses are from one school, Northern Beaches Secondary College Cromer Campus, highlighting the need for a new school hall and additional classrooms. Numerous other priorities are identified through the survey, of course, but that is the standout. That response has only reinforced my commitment to advocate for improvements to school infrastructure at Northern Beaches Secondary College Cromer Campus, in particular a new hall. The high school has over 1,100 students and is growing again next year, but it has no adequate school hall. The hall's current capacity is around 400 people or fewer. Cromer Campus clearly needs a hall that can comfortably hold its entire student and teacher population. Students want to be able to have performances for their school band and their dance and performing arts classes. As members have heard me say in this House, not everybody plays sport.

I have written to and met with the Deputy Premier, and education Minister, to emphasise that need and to encourage her to visit the school and see it firsthand. I am very encouraged by our discussions to date. I will continue to advocate for that upgrade over the coming months and am determined to see it delivered, along with other projects such as the basketball courts at The Forest High School. The Wakehurst schools survey is still open, and I encourage all parents and school staff to send in their responses before the end of October. Let us get it done together, and I give another big thankyou to all of our teachers.

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