8 Reasons to Support Erskineville Public School

1. Demographics -
The population of Erskineville and its immediate environs has undergone massive growth over the last several years, as witnessed by the large number of housing developments both recently completed and currently underway.

In fact, the population in this area is forecast to double in the next ten years. Closing Erskineville Public school will leave us with insufficient places to educate our children. Using enrolment figures alone from the last 25 years is inaccurate and focuses on the past. It is essential that demographics as a whole are used - not least because these focus on the present and future of the area, and are therefore more relevant.

The demographic report commissioned by the Department, (only after the announcement to close the school), was flawed, and used census data from 1996. We urge the Committee to instruct the Department to use the current data from the 2001 Census.

Also, the area analysed did not take into consideration the total local Erskineville / Newtown area affected. The results were an understated impact.

2. Surrounding schools -
The report by the Department failed to take into account the growth and future needs of surrounding Primary schools, (in particular North Newtown and Newtown), and instead chose to review Erskineville Public School as part of a catchment area for the newly proposed school in Alexandria Park. Both Newtown and North Newtown schools are either at capacity or nearing it. These schools will struggle to accommodate the growing child population going forward, and the result will be a reduction in the quality of education and accommodation available to these children. Since these schools and ours were established (in the late 1800's), there has been constructive interaction, which should be allowed to continue. Many children from Erskineville already attend these schools.

The Department must consider the local school community and it's needs as a whole.

3. Safety of students -
If Erskineville Public School closes, most of the children will attend Newtown and Darlington Public schools because having to travel to the new Alexandria Park site will involve crossing major traffic thoroughfares. These are young children, and this is a tremendous risk to their safety. Erskineville Public School, on the other hand, is on a public transport corridor.

There was an incorrect premise that the Erskineville Community has a natural relationship with this newly proposed site, when in fact it is, (and has always been), Newtown and Erskineville that have a natural relationship.

4. Growing child population -
There is an indisputable and significant increase in the number of children in the area. We urge the Department to commence dialogue with the local Child Care Centres to seek immediate clarification on this matter. There are over 250 children on waiting lists.

Erskineville Public School has received several approaches from parties interested in establishing a Pre-school on-site. One of these has been from the renowned Lady Gowrie Child Care Centre. The establishment of such a Pre-school would immediately reverse the reduced enrolments in the school as the majority of students would simply progress to the next level and this co-location would provide an alternative option for working parents.

5. Outstanding academic results -
The students at Erskineville Public School achieve academic excellence. There is a publicly acknowledged Arts program at the school, and in the last Basic Skills Test, two students scored in the top 10 percent of the State.

6. Independence of the School Closures Review Committee -
Of the seven-member panel, four were from within the Department of Education and Training or appointed by the Minister. I question the independence of this panel to arrive at an unbiased conclusion.

7. Our School, our Community -
The closure of our school would not only result in the loss of a valuable educational institution, but the loss of a site that is used constantly by the greater community. There are many and varied uses of the school, including:
· Yoga classes
· Adult education classes;
· various band and musical rehearsals;
· Line-dancing classes;
· After-school care.

Also, it has unique resources that could be leased or utilised or other schools or the local community with a financial and / or educational gain for the Department of Education and it's clients.

8. The future -
The School has a magnificent future and has developed a detailed Marketing plan. With the support of the Department of Training and Education, our school can flourish.