ACT public schools need to urgently address problems with campus maintenance, capacity, digital infrastructure and accessibility, an inquiry has found.
"Extensive water damage including large holes in ceilings following moderate to heavy rains and peeling paint reported in submissions were also observed by the committee on several school site visits," the report said.
Hazardous materials, such as lead paint and asbestos, were in 76 ACT public schools and 75 per cent of Catholic systemic schools.
The committee heard schools were losing specialist spaces, such as music rooms, art rooms and libraries, because of increasing enrolments but no increase in classroom capacity.
The committee recommended the ACT government communicated the medium and long-term plans to address capacity issues at schools and that libraries and specialist teaching facilities from school capacity calculations.
It also said the Education Directorate needed to immediately focus on upgrading and maintaining tools, hardware, software and firmware as well as internal policies and procedures to help students learn digital literacy skills.
A student from Hawker College, Miles Greenwark, wrote in his submission students were unable to learn digital skills required by the curriculum on the school-issued Chromebook laptops and the directorate failed to maintain licences for computer products such as Adobe Creative Cloud Suite.
The committee recommended maintenance plans be adequately funded so schools would not have to use money from other areas of their budget for maintenance, which is currently common practice.
It recommended all public schools become universally accessible as soon as possible and traffic management plans and upgrades be put in place, such as flashing school lights and traffic calming measures.
ACT Education Minister Yvette Berry said the government would respond in due course.
She said libraries and specialist areas were still used in school capacity calculations because they could be used for educational purposes throughout the day.
"We always meet the capacity needs within our schools," Ms Berry said.
"Every child has a place in their local public school and we pay very careful attention in consultation with our school communities to make sure that those needs are met."
The ACT government will have four months to respond to the committee report.
Another inquiry is planned into the future of school infrastructure, including vertical schools, in coming months.
Sarah covers all stages of education in the capital, from early childhood to higher education. Previously she was a general news reporter at The Advocate in North West Tasmania. She was named Best New Journalist at the 2019 Tasmanian Media Awards for a series on paramedic shortages. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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