Hobart Schools Stretched: South Hobart Library To Close
by Stephanie Williams
Inner city Hobart schools are reaching capacity and students are beginning to lose access to vital educational tools. The South Hobart Primary School recently lost its library, after it was closed to be repurposed as classrooms to meet 2021 enrolment numbers. But with no clear master plan for the school in place, it’s looking like at least three to five years before the students will have access to a library again.
On ABC Radio Hobart in late November, while talking to presenter Leon Compton, Minister for Education, Jeremy Rockcliff stated that no school should be without a library. Libraries are not only important to embed a lifelong interest and ability to research and learn, they are safe space and sanctuary for kids at school. So how are Hobart kids left without a library option critical to their learning?
To access capital works funding, each school must have a master plan, formulated by the Department of Education. The last masterplan for South Hobart Primary was created in 2011 and included building works that were completed three years ago. The school was immediately at capacity once those works were complete. Principal Anne Reeves stopped out of catchment enrolments from 2019 (perhaps preempting an escalation in capacity issues) in an attempt to quell numbers but as yet, the Department hasn’t come forth with a new master plan to account for future growth.
South Hobart, like many inner city areas, is experiencing a change in demographic as young families move in putting pressure on schools. For example, at South Hobart student numbers are reported to have grown from 150 in 2002, to 243 in 2010 to 455 in 2020 and around 500 in 2021. Class sizes are currently at or beyond capacity. Chair of the SHPS Association, Anna Powell, said their first request to the Department is to update the master plan. “While there’s immediate issues around where the interim library is going to be, the bigger issue is this hasn’t been foreseen for ten years, with inadequate planning and funding for this school,” Anna said. “We need a master plan that’s fit for purpose, growth and facilities that we think a school needs in the next generation of kids.” It’s understood that other inner city schools are also having growth issues, but some have master plans in place. “Lansdowne Crescent Primary school doesn’t have a library for 12 months but they have a timeframe on that because it’s only while they’re building,” Anna said. “Our concern is we’re losing our library but there’s no plan for how we get it back.”