Helensburgh parents outraged at crack down on out-of-area school enrolments

NOT HAPPY: Helensburgh Public School parents fears the Department of Education's crackdown on out-of-area enrolments will give students only one high school option. Picture: Robert Peet
NOT HAPPY: Helensburgh Public School parents fears the Department of Education's crackdown on out-of-area enrolments will give students only one high school option. Picture: Robert Peet

Primary school students from Helensburgh will no longer be able to attend Bulli High School after a major crackdown on out-of-area enrolments by the NSW Department of Education.

This has angered many parents at Helensburgh Public School.

Bulli High School and Heathcote High School have both been offered as the designated local high schools for Helensburgh Public School for the last 32 years.

Helensburgh Public School P&C president Naomi Burley said the policy change was a big shock for residents.

"Geographically Helensburgh residents have always had a choice when leaving Helensburgh to shop north or south, work north or south, play sport north or south," she said.

"We are asking that the choice we have had for three decades to attend either Bulli High School or Heathcote High School be officially recognised by the Department of Education and that they amend the current policy and make both Heathcote and Bulli the designated local schools for students at Helensburgh Public School."

We are asking that the choice we have had for three decades to attend either Bulli High School or Heathcote High School be officially recognised by the Department of Education.

Helensburgh Public School P&C president Naomi Burley

Under the changes, every principal will be given a student population limit based on the number of permanent buildings at their school, and will not be given demountables if they exceed their student cap due to out-of-area enrolments.

The tough new approach will reduce families' options if their preferred out-of-area schools are over, or close to, a reduced student cap, and has prompted fears that some schools will not be able to accept the younger siblings of non-local students.

''We really feel like we've been swept up in a policy that is really been driven by problems they have got in the metropolitan area with overcrowding but neither Heathcote or Bulli are overcrowded," Ms Burley said.

"As for parents who school shop, it does happen in Sydney metropolitan schools and in the eastern suburbs, but those schools are relatively close to each other.

"In our instance, we are talking about schools that are 34 kilometres apart."

Heathcote MP Lee Evans said year 6 students with siblings at Bulli High could apply apply to attend.

But Mrs Burley feared this was a short-term solution.

"The reality is if they do crack down and put a cap on it, there is no guarantee for our families that they can actually go to Bulli," she said.

"We know from 32 years of data that a third of our students go north, a third of them go down to Bulli and a third go elsewhere, including into the private system.

"There is enough data over time to plan accordingly and to adopt this as a sensible policy option and boundary change for Helensburgh without it effecting or overcrowding either schools."