NSW student enrolments are the highest ever, state education minister Sarah Mitchell (centre) says. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

Education

Largest ever cohort heads to NSW schools

2020-01-26 13:20:31

A once-in-a-generation spike in enrolments will result in the largest ever cohort of students in NSW schools this year.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell says the huge group is the largest ever recorded across the state and includes 71,000 new kindergarten students.

Ms Mitchell said for more than 30 years student numbers have been relatively stable but NSW is now facing the first major increase in the school-aged population since the baby boom of the 1950s.

“In 2020, we’ll see a once-in-a-generation spike in school enrolments,” she said in a statement.

In response, the Berejiklian government says it will deliver $900 million of school infrastructure between January and June.

At least 839 new teachers and 49 principals will also start in public schools across the state.

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

This included Bobin Public School on the mid-north coast which was destroyed by fire in early November and is due to be open on the first day of term one.

Wytaliba Public School in northern NSW was also destroyed by fire and was expected to be rebuilt and open for the first day of school.

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

NSW Labor called for permanent support in fire-affected communities and said it was not enough to just “drop” a counsellor into a school for a few weeks.

Students will also have to follow a new digital device policy which will be introduced in NSW public schools from the start of the year.

Under the policy, primary school students will not be allowed to use digital technology such as smartphones, smartwatches, iPads and laptops during class, recess and lunch unless for an educational purpose.

In high schools, it’s optional for principals to put in place device restrictions.