ACT News


Murrumbateman parents feel neglected by NSW government over second knock back on building school

Shannon Griffith spends as many hours commuting as she does working on an average weekday.

She leaves her Murrumbateman home at 7.30am to take her daughter to childcare in Yass, her eldest child to Miles Franklin Primary School in Evatt and herself to her Civic office by 9.45am, before starting the journey in reverse 4.5 hours later.

Ms Griffith is one of several Murrumbateman families outraged at the NSW government's decision to exclude Murrumbateman from the dozen public schools the NSW government will build each year, until at least 2026.

The knock back will lead to more desperate parents lying about where their children live so they can attend Canberra public schools, according to a local community group.

The working group that has lead a four-year-long push for a primary school to be built in the fast-growing town north of Canberra was told 18 months ago that the NSW government would not review the need to build a school there until 2026.

It received a glimpse of hope when six months later the NSW education department wrote to the group's chairman Michael Reid, saying they were considering building a satellite school, such as a campus of an existing Yass primary school at Murrumbateman.


But last week Mr Reid learned that plans to build either a stand-alone and satellite school to accommodate the some-350-primary-school-aged students in the town would not still not begin until after 2026.

"This is going to get much worse," Mr Heid said.

"They [the NSW government] are justifying it by saying they can accommodate the problem by people going to school in Yass but Yass itself is expanding. Meanwhile the ACT is at full capacity and is pushing back [against non-Canberran students]."

He was concerned about an increase in the number of Murrumbateman parents pretending their children live in Canberra when enrolling in ACT schools to boost them up in the school's preferences.

"Parents have spoken to me about it but they won't go on record, of course, because it will jeopardise their schooling in Canberra," he said.

Such dishonest behaviour would negatively impact both the ACT and Murrumbateman. It would downplay the demand of Murrumbateman students while leaving the ACT government short on funding it receives from the NSW government for cross-border enrolments.

Murrumbateman mother Katherine Richardson said the incorrect reporting was not just a primary school issue.

"I have heard of it happening but mainly when the students get to high-school," Ms Richardson said.

A NSW education spokeswoman confirmed "the department remains convinced that a new primary school will not be required in Murrumbateman until after 2026".

ACT public schools preference enrolments in the order in-area children, transfer considerations, other ACT residents and then NSW residents.

An ACT Education Directorate spokeswoman said the government had no record of falsified addresses on enrolments and had not received any complaints of such behaviour.

She advised anyone with information about people providing false or misleading statements, information or documents to contact the education directorate.

Ms Griffith was devastated she and other friends who work in Canberra will be left doing multi-hour run-arounds each day likely for the rest of their children's school years.

"One friend had her child's name pushed back from three Canberra schools and didn't find out she didn't have a spot until the week before school started," she said.

"We are just not a priority for the NSW government."

The construction of a primary school at Murrumbateman was estimated to cost $12 million.