National Art School grounds touted as site for new inner city high school

The historic Darlinghurst jail, home to the National Art School, should be considered as the site for a new high school, parents have told the NSW Department of Education's review into inner city high schools.

The Victoria Barracks in Paddington and the Cleveland Street Intensive English School have also been identified as potential sites for a school to cope with the ballooning number of children living in inner Sydney.

The department is asking for input into its strategy to create more classroom space for high schools in the inner city, which will be squeezed for space as the population swells in the next decade.

Inner Sydney will start to run out of classrooms for high school students in the next four years. It will need an extra 32 classrooms by 2018 and 25 to 40 more classrooms on top of the existing rooms by 2026.

The department will hold the first of three public forums on inner Sydney schools on Thursday at Sydney Girls High and is running online consultations to seek ideas on dealing with the looming classroom shortage.

''The Old Darlo Gaol site and Paddo Barracks stand out as having great potential,'' one parent wrote. ''Expansion potential especially for the barracks, with excellent transport options nearby (light rail, buses), and space enough for play, with large additional parks nearby.''

Another wrote: ''In my opinion, the first and only real choice site should be the National Art School in Darlinghurst. It is a large site and has open spaces. Already has a hall, offices and classrooms.

''The National Art School is an orphan institution owned effectively by the Department of Education. This means that the Department of Education wouldn't even have to negotiate with another government department on the site.''

The art school could be moved to a government-owned site in the western suburbs, it was suggested.

A spokeswoman for the National Art School said the fine arts institute had occupied the state government-owned site, in various forms, since 1922, when the jail became the East Sydney Tech, but ''there are no plans to establish another school on the site''.

Skye Molyneux, campaign co-director of Community for Local Options for Secondary Education, said the group had identified the National Art School as an option.

''It would be an option we would like to put on the table,'' Ms Molyneux said.

She said the barracks and the Cleveland Street school were other options worth investigating.

Other suggestions for dealing with the shortage of secondary schools in the inner city included changing the catchment rules for selective schools and improving transport links so more schools were accessible by public transport.

''Easy fix to free up a significant number of spaces for eastern suburbs families is put boundaries back on selective high schools - so that each area has an available selective school,'' one respondent wrote.

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