Canberra's inner north could need a new primary school within ten years to keep pace with urban infill but parents say they are being kept in the dark about the Education Directorate's plans.
Figures provided by the directorate show an extra 579 primary students are expected to enrol across all inner-north public schools by 2030.
Majura Primary School's population is expected to grow by 208 students to a total of 918 students by 2030.
Lyneham Primary School is expected to take in 117 more students and North Ainslie Primary School could have 91 extra children.
Extra capacity will also be needed in high schools and Dickson College within 10 years, with an extra 162 high schools students and 130 college students expected to enter the system.
ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations spokeswoman Janelle Kennard said parents had been concerned about school capacity in the inner north for some time.
"Three years ago we called on the ACT government to purchase land close to the tram corridor and consider innovative solutions such as a vertical school close to and linked with existing open spaces," Ms Kennard said.
"The population of this area is not going to decline, so we need an additional school or permanent school expansions where it will work for that school and grounds - school communities must be consulted."
Ms Kennard said solutions needed to go beyond adding transportable classrooms as this put pressure on the existing shared spaces including car parks, playgrounds, toilets, halls, art rooms and libraries.
Demographer Dr Liz Allen said adding transportable classrooms to ageing and overcrowded schools was like adding Band-Aids to a gaping wound.
"We don't seem to have much consideration of what the future needs will be in these areas of high growth," Dr Allen said.
"That's not to say that there isn't planning being done, it's just not being communicated to the public. I think that lack of communication about where we are going as a city is causing anxiety and ambivalence and apprehension."
The directorate has not flagged any new school sites or permanent expansions for inner-north schools.
Campbell Primary School will be modernised to a cost of $18.7 million but the current capacity of 450 will be maintained.
Majura Primary School and North Ainslie Primary School both installed transportable classrooms for the beginning of the 2021 school year.
An Education Directorate spokeswoman said it was considering how to respond to enrolment growth in areas where vacant or buildable land was scarce.
"Further analysis on how best to cater to this growth is required, and any decision taken on how to address this will be a decision of government," the spokeswoman said.
"The directorate will continue to monitor the situation in the inner north."
In the first instance, the directorate uses enrolment policy changes to restrict the number of out-of-area enrolments at schools that are reaching capacity. Transportable buildings are used to cope with a temporary increase in cohorts. If the enrolment growth is sustained, permanent school expansions or new schools will be built.
The directorate spokeswoman said more information on enrolment projections and school planning would be published on online in coming months.
"Enrolment projections are a point in time capture and do not necessarily reflect planned enrolment policy shifts or future investments," she said.
"While they are an important input to schools planning, considering enrolment projections in isolation of broader planning inputs does not provide an accurate representation of planning to ensure the balance of enrolment supply and demand."
The directorate uses a cohort transition model to track students through primary to high school and on to college. The ANU School of Demography works with the directorate on small area modelling and custom modelling scenarios.
"For the inner north, the small area distribution of population growth in the CMTEDD population forecast has not aligned as well as it could with emerging demographic trends," the directorate spokeswoman said.
"The directorate has undertaken custom modelling for the inner north to reflect the most current available development and demographic data."
The directorate uses data from the biannual school census, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate Population forecast 2018-2052 and the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate to plan for schools.
Ms Kennard said the inner-north squeeze was likely to be repeated in other areas of urban infill such as Belconnen and Woden town centres.
"It's disappointing to see town centre plans released without consideration of where the planned new residents will be schooled," she said.
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