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New school for the west side

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UPDATE: In October 2023 the State Government opened registrations of interest to identify options for the new school, including from developers and investors willing to work with the Government to provide land, help deliver new infrastructure or repurpose existing facilities. Registrations are via QTender and close on 27 November.

I'm sceptical of what sounds like a potential public-private partnership to deliver a state school. Public education should be the work of government, not tied up in private, particularly profit-making enterprise.
Having said that, I really want to see progress on the new school. I'm glad to hear the Government is still committed to delivering this project, and that there will be public EOI process.

What's happened so far

After years of campaigning, in July 2020 we finally received a commitment from the State government for a new primary school in the inner west. The school will include general learning areas, specialist spaces, multimedia spaces, special education facilities and outdoor learning areas.

In its initial survey from January 2021, the Department proposed building a new primary school on the site of Indooroopilly State High School, at Ward St and Canarvon St. Many residents felt the initial consultation was very limited and not sufficient, so I took this to the Department and Minister and asked them to do more to find the best possible site. The Department then opened consultation considering both the Indooroopilly State High School site and a second proposed location at the former Toowong Bowls Club on Gailey Rd. In December 2021, the State Government announced that the new school location would be the former Toowong Bowls Club site. I was actively involved in this consultation, communicated with hundreds of residents via email, and represented the community on a number of issues during this process. You can find out more about this here.

In August 2022, I met with Education Minister Grace Grace and she let me know that the Government is reconsidering the Bowls Club location. She said that this is due to both the concerns our community has raised about the Toowong Bowlo site (including flooding, traffic, and impacts on green space and the federally protected flying fox colony) and the fact that the enrolment pressures that underpinned the business case for this urgent proposal have eased, they’re now formally reconsidering the location. It’s frustrating that the proposed January 2024 opening date will be delayed but I'm glad we have an opportunity to select a better location.

I’ve been clear from the outset that neither the Toowong site nor ISHS were appropriate and the Department should’ve commenced planning and found a suitable site much earlier. I also made it absolutely clear that we still need a new school in the inner west in the very near future. Ideally, I’m pushing for a site near to where Taringa State School was (before being sold off in 1997), that’s close to the train station and other public transport links.

I’ve discussed a few options with the department, including a smaller school at the Tricare site, a site next to the Taringa train station that could incorporate much-needed accessibility upgrades, or the former Woolies site in Toowong. If you have an idea for a new school site that’s big enough to allow buildings and play space, close to public transport, and doesn’t result in a loss of public green space, let me know via email at [email protected].

You can always also directly email the project team with any questions or concerns at [email protected].

Why we need a new school

Since before I was elected, I've been hearing from locals that we desperately need a new school to properly address overcrowding. Classrooms are full, pool and library time is limited, before and after school care services have long wait lists and demountable classrooms are being erected on school ovals, encroaching on students’ play area. The west side is growing rapidly, and we need long-term planning and infrastructure to keep up with development and densification. Even though the pressure on schools is easing slightly due to slower migration in the pandemic, the need for a new school is undeniable.

There's still work to do, but whether you came to a community forum, contacted my office, shared your story, signed the petition or helped keep the pressure up on social media, you helped demonstrate just how urgently we need a new school here on the west side, and it paid off. 

Now my priority is working with the community, the Minister and the Department of Education, to ensure the planning process for Maiwar's new school is as consultative and effective as possible. 

My guiding principles

In late 2020, after talking to hundreds of local residents about this issue I developed a set of guiding principles about the location of the new school. They are: 

  1. Consultation: The location must be based on detailed community consultation with local residents by the Department of Education. 
  2. P-12: The new school should be P-12 if this is possible based on space. The State government has committed to a primary school, but we know that Indooroopilly State High and Kelvin Grove are both very full and that many west side high school students face a lengthy commute. 
  3. Taringa: The best general location would be around Taringa to fill the large gap in existing catchments formerly occupied by Taringa State School which was sold in 1997, and which would take the pressure off Toowong, Ironside and Indooroopilly State Schools. 
  4. Traffic and transport: A new school will cut traffic overall by allowing more families to walk, cycle and catch public transport, but the site must be located conveniently for public and active transport connections to minimise impact on local residents and maximise walking, cycling and public transport usage among students. 
  5. Public green space: There must be no net loss of public green space including parks and bushland. Any loss of green space must be compensated with new parkland or urban bushland in the electorate. 
  6. Property acquisitions: As a priority, the State government should acquire commercial properties or vacant properties, and should avoid compulsory resumption of existing homes where possible. 
  7. Flooding: As far as possible, the school should not be built in a flood zone. 
  8. Vertical school and green space: A “vertical school” is a viable option as long as students still have safe and convenient access to outdoor green space.
  9. Catchments and grandfathering: Catchment boundaries for existing schools must be “grandfathered” to allow children to remain at their current school, and to allow children with older siblings at an existing school to attend that school if they wish. 

New school quick links: