14 March 2024

A new high school for Wagga's northern suburbs? Minister promises to look into it

| Chris Roe
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Estella Public School remains the only state school in Wagga's expanding northern suburbs.

Estella Public School remains the only state school in Wagga’s expanding northern suburbs. Photo: Estella Public School / NSW Government.

NSW Education Minister and Deputy Premier Prue Car, says the government will investigate the need for a new high school in Wagga’s expanding northern suburbs.

Responding to a question from the Member for Wagga Wagga, Dr Joe McGirr, Ms Car declared that the need for new schools was an issue that was close to her heart.

“We need to properly examine those figures,” she said.

“I understand there is huge growth in the northern suburbs of his [Dr McGirr’s] electorate, and I look forward to working with him on ensuring that, if there is a need for further provision, we will make sure that the communities of the northern suburbs of Wagga Wagga will get the first class public education that they deserve.”

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Dr McGirr said he was pleased that the minister acknowledged “the importance of proper planning for infrastructure” when a regional centre has population growth.

“She made a very passionate point about the need for that, and the government’s commitment to that, and she has agreed to look at the projections and the data again, so I think that’s a good first step,” Dr McGirr said.

However, he expressed concern that recent Department of Education data suggested that an additional six classrooms would be sufficient to accommodate Wagga’s growth.

“We need to look at the projection figures for the northern suburbs of Wagga,” he said.

“We had 80 enrollments this year in Kindergarten at Estella and I would have thought that in the next five to 10 years we’re going to have more than enough students to fill six surplus classrooms.”

Estella Public School enrollments have steadily increased since opening in 2021.

Estella Public School enrollments have steadily increased since opening in 2021. Photo: Supplied.

Wagga’s northern suburbs of Boorooma, Gobbagombalin and Estella have boomed in recent years with a population exceeding 7000 and two new shopping centres opening last year.

The Riverina Anglican College (TRAC) has now completed its expansion to include a junior school and caters to more than 1000 students from K – 12.

TRAC is the only local high school in the north and, while the school boasts an excellent academic reputation, secondary school fees are more than $6000 per year.

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Wagga’s newest primary campus, Estella Public School, opened in 2021 with room for 480 students from K-6 and has rapidly filled with an influx of young families settling in the area.

But as students graduate from Estella Public School, parents are faced with a difficult choice and a commute across the Gobbagombalin Bridge to the nearest public secondary school.

The northern suburbs are in the catchment for Wagga Wagga High School which is nine kilometres away and has a student population of more than 1000.

“The feedback you get on the ground is that Wagga High is at capacity,” said Dr McGirr.

“So let’s test that. Let’s check what the figures are saying because if we don’t start doing it now, we’ll end up doing it when it’s well past the need.”

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