Bushfire damage has not stopped NSW schools reopening for the new academic year. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

Education

Burned NSW schools reopen for term one

2020-01-29 18:28:04

Bushfire-torched primary schools at Wytaliba and Bobin in regional NSW have reopened for the new school year, with the state government saying minor outstanding repair work will not stop classes.

The NSW government has committed $20 million to repair 178 schools affected by unprecedented bushfires across the state.

The funding is part of the coalition’s $1 billion commitment earlier this month to rebuild fire-ravaged communities.

Wytaliba Public School in northern NSW and Bobin Public School on the mid-north coast were destroyed by fires in November but rapid construction work ensured both schools were ready for term one this week.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell on Wednesday said razed school buildings at both sites had been replaced over the summer break including classrooms, outdoor spaces, toilet blocks and staff areas.

However, playgrounds and fencing at the two schools would require additional repair work over the coming weeks and months.

There will also be increased mental health support in all schools impacted by bushfires with more counsellors available.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is chuffed by the news.

“All of the (schools) are up and running today and that was a big job so we’re thrilled that’s been able to happen, thrilled all parents have confidence their children won’t have to miss out on school regardless of where they live in the state,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Wednesday.

The reconstruction of the two schools comes as a once-in-a-generation spike in NSW enrolments in 2020 results in the state’s largest-ever cohort.

More than 810,000 students have enrolled in NSW public schools in 2020 including 71,000 new kindergarten students.

The Berejiklian government says it will deliver $900 million of school infrastructure between January and June while at least 839 new teachers and 49 principals will start work in NSW public schools.

Ms Berejiklian on Wednesday said 24 public schools operating for term one were either newly-built or upgraded over the summer break.

One such school was Prestons Public School in southwest Sydney where Ms Berejiklian on Wednesday inspected a new communal learning space.

“We’re building these schools at a rate which has never been seen in our state, never been done before,” Ms Berejiklian said.