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Baby boom squeezes schools
Baby boom squeezes schools

An explosion in the number of families with young children living in inner-city areas has sparked fears that already stretched schools and childcare facilities will struggle to cope with the looming influx.

Latest census data shows the number of children aged under four has increased by as much as 30 per cent in some inner suburbs since 2006.

City of Vincent mayor Alannah MacTiernan said local toy libraries, playgroups, childcare centres and child health services were often booked out, with hefty waiting lists.

"We are concerned that the Education Department has ignored high inner-city growth despite our warnings," she said. "They have not been doing serious planning, we believe, for this tsunami of babies in our area."

She said students could miss out on programs such as music and art because any surplus space would have to be converted to classrooms.

"The numbers are still building," Ms MacTiernan said. "We haven't reached the peak yet. How are they going to accommodate 24 per cent extra kids, when schools are already full?"

Ms MacTiernan said there had been a cultural shift, with more young people attracted to the inner city lifestyle.

"And they don't have this view that once you have kids you've got to move out to the outer suburbs and have acreage," she said.

City of South Perth mayor Sue Doherty said a recent report found a need to increase availability of kindergartens, child care, child health services and before and after school care.

The Education Department said the relocation of Year 7 students to high schools in 2015 would free up some space at primary schools.

Statewide planning and delivery executive director Lindsay Hale said the department was working on a study of projected population growth in the inner city which would include long-term recommendations on accommodation.

"Three schools across the metropolitan area were identified in a preliminary study as requiring extra classrooms in the short term to address accommodation pressure, and funding for these schools will be revealed shortly," he said.

Nadia Wilson-Ali, co-ordinator of Forrest Street Child Care Centre in Mt Lawley, said her 48-place centre was inundated with inquiries from new families every day.

"We are seeing a big jump in inquiries, especially in our 0-2 years group and we don't have any full-time places available in this group until April next year," she said.