No plans to air-con Ipswich schools: Education minister
THERE are no plans to install air-conditioning in Ipswich classrooms.
Education Minister Grace Grace confirmed today her government has no plans to review its Cooler School Zones policy, to acknowledge the extreme heat Ipswich kids experience during the summer months.
During the prolonged February heatwave, temperatures in Ipswich schools hit 43C with humidity levels equal to those experienced in far north tropical Queensland.
The classroom temperatures were monitored by teachers as part of a Climate Control Census carried out by the Queensland Teachers' Union.
The Census found Ipswich classrooms were 3C hotter than Brisbane classrooms.
The temperatures experienced by Ipswich teachers and students rivalled those in the state's north where air-conditioning is standard.
The extreme temperatures and impact on students created a furore with Ipswich parents who called on the State Government to reconsider its policy.
The Queensland Teachers' Union also wants the policy reviewed.
While visiting Bremer State High School on Tuesday to announce a major investment in solar panels, Education Minister Grace Grace said that option was not on the table.
She said the current Cooler Schools Policy was "serving us well".
"We would love to have air-conditioning in every Queensland school," Minister Grace said.
"But those costs are exorbitant."
Ms Grace explicitly said the State Government was not considering installing air-conditioning in Ipswich schools, despite the extreme temperatures.
She said as temperatures continued to climb, the State Government was exploring "a number of strategies" to make schools classrooms across the state more comfortable for students.
LNP leader Deb Frecklington questioned why installing solar panels in schools was more important than providing air-conditioning.
"Labor's commitment to install solar panels in Queensland schools is welcome but why is solar more important than air-conditioning our schools?" Mrs Frecklington said.
"We all know that when kids are sweltering, they struggle to learn effectively.
"This is about priorities and the LNP believes Labor should be air-conditioning more Queensland schools."
For years the Queensland Teachers' Union has been calling for Education Queensland to introduce uniform "climate control" in all classrooms across the state by 2020.
Unless schools are within the Cooler Schools Zone the responsibility of installing air-conditioning falls to the individuals Parents and Citizens' associations.
Last month, Queensland Teachers' Union vice president Sam Pidgeon said the extreme heat was undoubtedly impacting students and teachers.
"There is no doubt there's a massive impact on teachers' capacity to teach when it's this hot," Ms Pidgeon said during a run of 35C plus days in Ipswich.
"In extreme cases we have teachers taking kids out of the classroom because its cooler outside than in.
"We would argue that providing cool classroom spaces is simply part of providing a safe and supportive learning environment," Ms Pidgeon said.
From the Union's point of view, that responsibility lies with Education Queensland, rather than having schools fundraise to install air-conditioning.