Public school enrolments were expected to boom in Canberra's north while some schools would edge closer to maximum capacity this year, projections from the ACT Education Directorate have revealed.
Data from the directorate showed four out of the five largest primary schools in the territory were in Gunghalin. The most populous primary school was Harrison School with 1148 students, followed by Amaroo School (1015), Neville Bonner Primary School (796), Red Hill Primary School (742) and Palmerston District School (719).
The territory's largest public high school was Lyneham High School, which was expected to have 1082 students this year, followed by Telopea Park with 933 students.
Gunghalin College would welcome the largest cohort of senior students at 1213, followed by The Canberra College (1057) and Narrabundah College (1036).
Margaret Hendry school would gain the most new students, with 132 extra students bringing the primary school population to 505. The school opened in 2019 with a distinctly modern, flexible approach to learning. Students were divided into learning neighbourhoods of 150 students rather than into traditional year levels.
The Evelyn Scott Primary School at Denman Prospect would open its doors this year with 52 students expected to enrol. The preschool to year 6 school would have the capacity for 600 students, with a high school set to open in 2023 also catering for 600.
Based on 2020 student capacities, some ACT schools would be very close to the maximum number of students their campuses could support, including Garran Primary School, Hawker Primary School, North Ainslie Primary School and Yarralumla Primary School.
Taylor Primary School would be 13 students over capacity in 2021 if it wasn't receiving new transportable classrooms for the new school year, along with 11 other public schools:
- Black Mountain School
- Majura Primary School
- North Ainslie Primary School
- Palmerston Primary School
- Fraser Primary School
- Forrest Primary School
- Garran Primary School
- Mawson Primary School
- Mt Rogers Primary School
- Red Hill Primary School
- Telopea Park High School
- Taylor Primary School
An Education Directorate spokesman said the directorate used a cohort transition model to forecast student enrolments.
"This model is based on taking births in an area, allocating them to a local primary school and tracking them as they graduate through primary to high schools and college. It takes into account the preference for public schools based on historical experience, catchment area and underlying demographics," he said.
"The model is continually updated by incorporating enrolment data via the annual census of students undertaken by the Education Directorate. This means the directorate is able to generate reliable and accurate projections for the year ahead by combining information on existing student populations, historical variables and recent developments."
Preschool students were not included in the directorate's primary school projections as capacity planning was done separately for these students. Long-term forecasting and demand modelling was done in partnership with the Australian National University School of Demography.
Public schools were proving to be an increasingly popular choice in Canberra with 62.5 per cent of all students in the ACT attending them in February 2020. Public school enrolments grew by 12.1 per cent between 2016 and 2020, while independent school enrolments grew by 5.1 per cent in the same period.
Two new schools are set to open in Gungahlin in coming years: the 450-place Throsby Primary School in 2022 and an 800-place high school in Kenny in 2023. Expansions were planned at Gold Creek Primary School and Franklin School by 2022.