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Sydney schools are bursting at the seams, new data shows

"We don't have anywhere to put them…”

By Candice Mehta-Culjak
School children, kids

Student numbers at Chatswood Primary School have increased by a whopping 41 per cent in just four years, according to enrolment data obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald.

The primary school, located in the affluent pocket of Sydney’s North Shore, was reportedly built to hold 800 students, currently has 1,246 pupils and is expecting a further 300 enrolments in the coming years.

Parents say the school’s major overcrowding has lead to a playground accessible only in shifts and one-third of the school has been forced to relocate to high school land across the road. Additionally, there are 60 girls to a toilet at the public school.

"We have 11 kindy classes at the moment and I'd say we'll get the same next year, another 120 kids," Brett Backhouse, president of the school's P&C, told the publication.

"We don't have anywhere to put them. We're the biggest school on the north shore [and] we have less than seven square metres of playground space per child.”

"They have to go to the toilet during class because there isn't enough time at lunch.”

He added: “I think that's appalling."

Mowbray Public and Artarmon Public, also located on Sydney’s North Shore, have been affected by overcrowding too with student numbers increasing by 42 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

And the problem of overcrowding isn’t unique to the North Shore. Epping West experienced a growth of 47 per cent, Carlingford West grew by 44 per cent and Girraween Public has ballooned by 36 per cent.

A spokesman for the Department of Education told the Sydney Morning Herald that a planning strategy addressing the issue has already commenced.

“A planning strategy for Chatswood and surrounds has commenced for all schools within the area,” they said.

“The department is currently looking at the enrolment boundaries at Chatswood Public School and Chatswood High School. The department will advise the community when these changes are finalised.”

However, the P&C at Chatswood, says the department’s numbers are “flawed.”

“We have 900 students living in the medium and high density apartments within 900 metres walking distance to the school,” Mr Backhouse said.

"They're not going to walk through the school to go to another school and parents are not going to sit in traffic for half an hour."

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