A 'pop up' school has opened at the site of Northbourne Public School in Marsden Park, allowing students to begin learning at the start of the school year before construction is completed on the permanent school by mid-year - but catering for an influx of students from the fast-growing suburb has not occurred without its challenges.
Federal Member for Riverstone Kevin Conolly said it "became apparent" during the course of 2020 that the school would not be completed for the start of 2021, and Blacktown Council granted a development approval for a pop up learning facility.
However, due to the rapidly-growing community of Marsden Park, council approval needed to be secured for a second time, this time to increase the size of the pop up school, to cater for higher-than-anticipated demand.
"It was a timing issue," Mr Conolly told the Gazette. "They initially had 131 [students enrolled at Northbourne] and applied for a pop up for 500. That's when they were presented with a problem."
The idea was floated to have Northbourne children attend classes temporarily at Marsden Park Public School. However, approval was granted before the new school year began and the pop was expanded - now being able to cater for 1000 students.
The pop up school opened for the start of Term 1 with just over 800 students enrolled.
The NSW Teachers Federation released a statement on January 27 raising concerns about "inadequate buildings and infrastructure at Northbourne Public School and Marsden Park Public School".
NSW Teachers Federation Deputy President Henry Rajendra said staff at both schools had worked to avert a "logistical nightmare of bussing large numbers of children between the two school sites each day."
In response, Mr Conolly said: "The site is safe, it's all new, exactly to standards, and there's nothing to be concerned about."
"The students will have a seamless experience, I hope, starting school this year and move mid-year into the permanent buildings."
A NSW Department of Education spokesperson told the Gazette: "During the holidays School Infrastructure NSW has worked in collaboration with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment to fast track planning approvals for additional facilities to accommodate the students from Northbourne Public School."
"All enrolled students will be learning at the Northbourne Public School site from the first day of school in 2021 eliminating the issue of bussing," the spokesperson said.
"The permanent school facilities at Northbourne PS are on track to be opened in mid 2021."
The school is located within its namesake, Northbourne Drive in the Elara Estate, and is housing students from years Kindergarten through to six.
The completed campus will provide flexible learning spaces, a hall, a library and a covered outdoor learning area, as well as staff and administration facilities.
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