Ballina Coast High School's campus took three years to build and saw the closure of Ballina High School and Southern Cross 7-12.
Ballina Coast High School's campus took three years to build and saw the closure of Ballina High School and Southern Cross 7-12.

CLASSROOM CAPS: Are our schools overcrowded?

FIVE Northern Rivers schools have exceeded an enrolment cap, put in place to prevent overcrowding in classrooms.

NSW Labor slammed the Government's "failed" school enrolment cap crackdown after it was revealed 576 of the 1279 NSW schools subject to the cap were over capacity.

From mid-2019 the NSW government set a student population limit for each school based on its number of permanent buildings, preventing parents from enrolling their children in schools out of their immediate catchment area.

Labor Shadow Minister Education Prue Car said less than 12 months after it was launched the Government's enrolment crackdown has "been a fiasco", with 45 per cent of affected schools over capacity.

"It has caused anxiety for families who faced having to split up their children, and it has not helped solve the overcrowding crisis in schools across NSW," Ms Car said.

"Schools in NSW are chronically overcrowded because the government has failed to build new schools where they are needed and has instead stuck demountables on playgrounds like sardines in a tin. This is a problem of their own making."

She said there was ten schools exceeding capacity within the Ballina and Tweed regions which did not have planned infrastructure upgrades.


The five schools affected on the Northern Rivers are:

  • Brunswick Heads Public School has 231 students enrolled with an enrolment cap of 162, equating to being over capacity by 42.6 per cent
  • Alstonville Public School has 407 student enrolled with an enrolment cap of 301 equating to being overcrowded by 35.2 per cent
  • Wollongbar Public School has 307 students enrolled with a cap of 255 equating to being overcrowded by 20.4 per cent.
  • Ocean Shores Public School has 309 students enrolled with a cap of 278 equating being 11.2 per cent over capacity.
  • Byron Bay High School has 772 students enrolled with a cap of 720, equating to 7.3 per cent over capacity.

Shadow Minister for the North Coast, Adam Searle, said it was extremely concerning that local schools are overcrowded when the Government would be sending children back school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Department of Education spokeswoman said NSW public schools accommodate every local child who wishes to attend.

"The enrolment cap does not set a limit on the number of local students a school can enrol and is not the enrolment capacity of a school," she said.

"In the Tweed and Ballina regions, the NSW Government is investing in major upgrades at 10 schools which have either been recently completed or are in the planning/design phases.

"In Ballina, the new Ballina Coast High School with 63 classrooms was opened last year. An upgrade of Byron Bay Public School provided 10 new permanent classrooms and was completed early this year, and in 2018 an upgrade was delivered at Alstonville High School," she said.

"A major upgrade at Lennox Head Public School will provide eight new classrooms and is in the design phase. Bangalow Public School and Teven-Tintenbar Public School are also receiving upgrades, which are currently in the planning phase."