Teachers and administrative staff do not have enough space to effectively run the Garran Primary School with the ageing site struggling to cope with the number of students enrolled, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.
Charles Hamlyn Harris, a parent representative on the primary school's board, on Tuesday told an inquiry into ACT school infrastructure that many of Garran Primary School's buildings were approaching the end of their useful life, and there was inadequate space for specialty classes.
"Garran is an excellent example of the downside of taking the incremental and unco-ordinated approach to school infrastructure development," Mr Hamlyn Harris said.
"We now have a village of demountable buildings, taking up large swathes of the school's open space. And a development that has been piecemeal in its approach over many years."
Mr Hamlyn Harris said the board had advocated for a precinct approach to manage the needs of the school and the Canberra Hospital next door.
He said the board remained hopeful a major redevelopment of the school would be funded by the ACT government.
Mr Hamlyn Harris said the conversations between the board and the education and health directorates were positive, but there needed to be a commitment to overhaul the school.
"The increasing use of spaces by classes means that there's inadequate administrative space, the leadership team and the staff don't have anywhere to do ordinary planning or effectively manage the school," he said.
"There are no dedicated spaces for such activities as STEM, music and so forth, because there's always got to be a lot of juggling around. Facilities like the library and the staff room are being used for classes as well, and that takes away those individual uses."
In a bid to ease pressure at the school, new demountable classrooms were installed before the start of the 2021 school year. There are now 148 demountable classrooms across ACT public schools.
However, significant access to open space at the school has been lost, with the nearby Garran oval now the site of the surge centre, originally built as a temporary measure to provide extra capacity for treating COVID-19 patients.
Jennifer Berget, representing the school's parents and citizens committee, told the inquiry that students had said demountable classrooms limited their ability to use the playground area.
"Certainly with the last lot of demountables, it has curtailed and it has changed the way they play. ... The younger kids - it's really hard for them to play soccer, because there's not really the space for them to do it without interacting with the other areas," Ms Berget said.
"The feedback I and other parents have had is the demountables are taking away that from students, and that's what they are feeling when they see more demountables."
The inquiry heard the oldest demountable at the school had likely been in place for more than two decades, and despite being labelled temporary, the school community viewed them as permanent additions.
The popular Woden Valley school has long dealt with capacity issues, with staff resorting to teaching classes and in the library nearly five years ago before a demountable classroom was installed.
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