Ingleside Place Strategy: Enrolment caps information under wraps

INFRASTRUCTURE: Emma Dacker and her children Joshua, 5, and Rowan, 2. Picture: Geoff Jones
INFRASTRUCTURE: Emma Dacker and her children Joshua, 5, and Rowan, 2. Picture: Geoff Jones

THE Department of Education is staying tight-lipped on enrolment caps at schools near Ingleside, with plans to bring 980 new homes and 3000 extra people to the area.

The NSW Government's scaled-down Ingleside Place Strategy has reduced from the original planned 3400 homes and growth of 9000 people, but it has also dropped plans for a new school in the growing suburb.

Four public schools are in the catchment zone for Ingleside and some parents say these schools are already bursting at the seams.

Repeated requests made by the Northern Beaches Review to the DoE for information on enrolment caps at these schools during the past week have gone unanswered. Last year, however, the DoE provided the data to The Sydney Morning Herald:

  • Elanora Heights Public School: Enrolment cap in 2020 was 486, actual enrolments this year 565. This is 79 students over the cap
  • Mona Vale Public School: Enrolment cap in 2020 was 786, actual enrolments this year 1087. This is 301 students over the cap
  • Pittwater High School: Enrolment cap in 2020 was 1040, actual enrolments this year 1103. This is 63 students over the cap
  • Narrabeen Sports High School. Enrolment cap in 2020 was 1040, actual enrolments this year 1041. One student over the cap

DoE's enrolment policy states the enrolment cap is the number of students who can be enrolled at a school based on the school's permanent accommodation.

Elanora Heights parent, Emma Dacker, said a new school should have been included in the plans for Ingleside.

"North Narrabeen [Public School] is so overcrowded because of the development down at Warriewood because there wasn't another school created," she said.

Another Elanora parent Jamie Fehon is not opposed to the development but said it must include adequate infrastructure.

PLANNING NEEDED: Jamie Fehon with his children Emily and Cody at Elanora Heights Public School.

PLANNING NEEDED: Jamie Fehon with his children Emily and Cody at Elanora Heights Public School.

"It can be distracting when you've got too many kids in the school so they need the infrastructure to cope," he said.

But Mona Vale Public School parent Kylie Dixon is not worried about the lack of new school. "I don't find it a problem with more students, the school's quite well run to cope with it," she said.

A School Infrastructure NSW spokeswoman declined to answer why plans for a new school in Ingleside had been scrapped, but said the DoE was able to meet the enrolment demand in the area.

ALL GOOD: Kylie Dixon with her two children Bella, 6, and Zac, 8, outside Mona Vale Public School for story on the Ingleside Development.

ALL GOOD: Kylie Dixon with her two children Bella, 6, and Zac, 8, outside Mona Vale Public School for story on the Ingleside Development.

"A major project is currently underway at Mona Vale Public School and the Narrabeen Education Precinct, which proposes to upgraded facilities at Narrabeen Sports High School and Narrabeen North Public School, has been prioritised for planning," she said.

"Numerous targeted strategies are used to manage enrolment demands in the short to medium term, including enforcing the Department's enrolment policy to manage out-of-area enrolments and reviewing school intake areas to improve utilisation across schools in a local area.

"The enrolment cap does not refer to the number of local students a school can accommodate; it is a policy to guide schools in managing out of area enrolments aimed at encouraging local students to attend local schools.

"We regularly consult with agencies such as DPIE and local councils to monitor population and development trends to meet enrolment and long-term education requirements in schools across NSW. The process for projecting enrolments is regularly reviewed and we are always refreshing and updating methods and data."

Following repeated requests from the Northern Beaches Review to the DoE for enrolment cap information, a spokesperson provided this written response after the print deadline.

Every eligible student who wishes to attend a NSW public school will be given a place at their local school.

All schools with enrolments above 150 students and that have an enrolment boundary, have a centrally set enrolment cap. Selective high schools, environmental education centres and schools for specific purposes do not have an enrolment boundary and do not have a centrally set cap.

Enrolment caps are based on the number of permanent classrooms in the school and are reviewed annually to take into consideration any additional permanent classrooms constructed.

The enrolment caps are used as a guideline for principals to manage non-local enrolments. Non-local students cannot be enrolled when a school is approaching or exceeding the set enrolment cap, except in exceptional circumstances.

The department provides each school with teachers, support and administration staff appropriate to the number of enrolments so students receive a quality public education.

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