“There are things the government could do now in the transition period, like consider schools with extra space or relax enrollment caps for the next few years until they formalize the reallocation.”
Baumber said he was fundamentally opposed to gender segregation in public schools, and that the family had considered moving because the school was restricted to single-sex schools. “It’s crazy that it could come to this,” he said.
“As parents of two boys, we want them to interact with girls as they study, collaborate and socialize — just like they do in the real world.”
There are 36 public school districts in NSW where the only option is an all-boys or all-girls secondary school. Students are only guaranteed one place at their local school, and while families can apply to co-ed schools outside the area, they will be rejected if they are at or near full capacity.
That’s what Secretary of Education Prue Car said herald The government has pledged to ensure all NSW pupils have access to a co-educational public high school by 2027.
“We are working intensively on the plan to implement this complex reform, including planning for the expansion of mixed catchment areas. I look forward to providing updates on the rollout of access for specific service areas later this year,” said Car.
NSW public high schools have about 35,258 students enrolled in single-sex schools and about 272,361 in co-educational schools this year.
The change comes as parents avoid the city’s 15 non-selective public boys’ high schools, half of which have vacancy rates of more than 30 percent. The Georges River College Hurstville Boys campus, the Birrong Boys and the Canterbury Boys are all operating at less than 50 percent occupancy.
Epping Boys High, Northern Beaches Secondary College Balgowlah Boys Campus and Ashfield Boys are the only schools to exceed their 2023 enrollment cap.
Granville Boys added almost 110 students last year after additional activities were offered at the school. There is now an in-house hair salon, a bagpipe band and a robotics team.
The debate over the availability of co-educational schools has been going on for years, including in the eastern suburbs where many families are designated for Randwick boys’ and girls’ schools. A consultation on the future of public high school options in the East is ongoing and a consultation report is expected later this year.
Licia Heath, of the Community for Local Options for Secondary Education (CLOSE) lobby group, said the fact that only some students will be allowed access in 2025 is another example of the eastern suburbs being ignored by Department of Education bureaucrats.
“The fact that community has once again been neglected shows that public education in Sydney’s eastern suburbs is never a consideration of the Department of Education,” she said.
“CloseEast conducted a survey of families in the East between October 2022 and February 2023 and the overwhelming majority of responses were that people in the Randwick catchment area had a preference for mixed education.”
There are more than 20 private high schools in the area, many charging over $30,000 per year.
Sascha Dannroth, who has a son in kindergarten and a daughter in third grade at Randwick Public School, said his family is designated for single-sex high schools.
“It would be much better if they all went to the same school and spent time together. In my opinion, mixed schools lend themselves better to character building and are a reflection of the real world.
“I don’t want to spend the money on private schools, but that may happen if we don’t have more options.”
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