GROWING PAINS: With the number of students enrolled in our schools set to grow during the next decade, education experts fear the quality of teaching in our classrooms will suffer.
GROWING PAINS: With the number of students enrolled in our schools set to grow during the next decade, education experts fear the quality of teaching in our classrooms will suffer.

OUT CLASSED: Failure that may leave Mackay lacking schools

READ MORE: Where will our kids go to school?

OUR booming population is putting pressure on schools and teachers, with experts fearing we will soon have more students than schools can cope with.

This means parents may not be able to find a place for their youngsters and local schools could end up with overcrowded and under-resourced classrooms.

Mackay is home to 23,938 school-age children and Whitsunday has 6073.

In 10 years, we will have about 33,785 students needing to squeeze into the 76 schools that service our local government areas.

Kevin Bates, president of the Queensland Teachers' Union, said the State Government would not meet population growth needs.

He said the government was relying on an "unsustainable" approach of adding temporary multistorey buildings to already overburdened campuses.

"Instead of well-planned and up-to-date school facilities, what we'll end up with is a piecemeal approach," Mr Bates said.

"Many of our schools were built in the 1950s-60s and have had very little work done to them in the interim."

Demographer Bernard Salt said there was a risk of teachers working in "congested, substandard buildings" unless the State Government changed its approach to building schools.

Based on feedback from schools in the region, Mackay QTU organiser Paul Waters said a major problem was the potential shortage in specialist teaching skills in north Queensland schools.

Because there were few teachers well versed in areas like advanced mathematics, especially in north Queensland, students risked not getting the education they needed to enter the workplace.

"In general, they (the State Government) act quickly to address such matters by using temporary demountable buildings and repurposing some existing spaces within the school," Mr Waters said.

The Department of Education said it was actively monitoring schools that had rising enrolments and had plans to open a further five schools across Queensland in 2021.

Education Minister Grace Grace said eight new schools were opened across the state this year.

"More and more children are choosing to attend state schools, we have seen a 10 per cent increase in our student numbers in the past five years," she said.

"We will not just sit back and let our schools become overcrowded."

Opposition education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said an LNP government would "end the divide" between the regions and cities with a school planning commission to build new schools where they were needed.

- NewsRegional



Region (LGA), number of students now, students in 2031, number of schools

Mackay, 23,938, 26,680, 58

Toowoomba, 34,744, 35,594, 89

Sunshine Coast, 61,365, 77,694, 73

Fraser Coast, 18,713, 18,779, 38

Bundaberg, 17,722, 18,715, 51

Gladstone, 13,924, 13,955, 33

Rockhampton, 17,043, 18,380, 45

Ipswich, 47,641, 86,464, 71

Gympie, 9833, 9489, 31

Townsville, 39,322, 47,702, 60

Southern Downs (Warwick), 6913, 6348, 36

Maranoa, 2558, 2537, 16

Western Downs, 7611, 7610, 34

Balonne, 895, 720, 7

Cairns, 33,540, 40,058, 52

Whitsunday, 6073, 7105, 18

Livingstone (Yeppoon), 7451, 7979, 17

Central Highlands (Emerald), 6328, 5819, 28

Banana (Biloela), 2945, 2354, 16

North Burnett, 1907, 1724, 17

South Burnett, 6319, 5985, 27

Noosa, 9856, 9983, 17

Lockyer Valley, 8348, 9573, 26

Isaac (Clermont, Moranbah), 4321, 4711, 19

Somerset, 5352, 6496, 19

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