Last week's budget revealed plans by the Baird Liberal Government to shut down the Petersham TAFE West St Campus. The facility will be turned into a distance learning school for the Department of Education, a move that will have no benefit for inner west residents.
The loss of a TAFE campus is a blow to young people wanting to access vocational education in the inner city. This campus closure comes off the back of a concerted attack on TAFE, which includes raising fees, cutting funding, stripping away resources and shutting down campuses.
If the TAFE facility is going to be re-purposed, it should be used to serve the needs of the local community. There is a severe shortage of public schools in the inner west. Demand is outstripping supply, resulting in overcrowded playgrounds and a shortage of classrooms.
Existing schools are being forced to convert non-teaching rooms like art rooms and computer rooms into teaching rooms – and student numbers are set to rise. NSW Greens analysis shows that education spending in the budget falls far short of meeting rising demand in enrolments across the state.
The Baird Liberal Government has plans to massively increase the population density around Lewisham, Taverners Hill and Petersham, and yet the West St Campus isn’t being re-purposed for use by local students. No wonder our community has so little confidence that UrbanGrowth NSW will provide anything except overcrowding and underinvestment in schools and other community facilities.
While the Government boasts of a budget surplus, they are failing to adequately provide for current and future public school enrolments.