Is deciding on a high school becoming more daunting?

New data from The Good Schools Guide regarding Year 7 enrolments has revealed the top growth areas in metropolitan Melbourne over the last 10 years.

Between 2007 and 2017, enrolments in all but seven of Melbourne’s 31 regions have increased, with Melton, Whittlesea, Port Phillip and Darebin experiencing increases of 50 per cent and above (see interactive table below).

How have these growing rolls impacted the experience of children going to school in these areas? More students mean more competition, which, for high school students and their parents in particular, can make school a scarier proposition.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Melton region, where enrolments have increased by an astonishing 108 per cent. In Caroline Springs, Catholic Regional College alone experienced a 171 per cent boost, alongside four new schools built in the suburb over the last 10 years. Of the seven schools in the whole Melton region that were open in 2007, only one school has seen a decline in the number of enrolments (12 per cent).

The wider landscape

This reflects the transition of the Melton area, where stretches of farmland have been replaced by housing estates as a result of Melbourne’s urban sprawl. Melton has experienced an almost 30 per cent increase in population between 2011 and 2016, with approximately 8,000 dwellings built in this time. Melton is now typical suburbia, where 83 per cent of the employed population travel to work, hence Melton City Council’s lobbying the federal and state governments for a $78 million road upgrade.

Whittlesea saw a 50 per cent increase in enrolment, but has had similar growth to Melton. Between 2011 and 2016, the region has seen a 47 per cent growth in population, with approximately 16,000 dwellings being built to accommodate the extra 47,000 people. However, in terms of infrastructure, Whittlesea has had just three new schools built in the last decade.

So, what is driving these increases?

Population growth will be one major factor. People are living longer, and Australia’s population is increasing at a steady rate, meaning the greater Melbourne area will continue to expand as these people buy and build homes.

Another factor may be the high house prices in the Melbourne CBD and inner suburbs. The median house price in Whittlesea is approximately $468,000, and in Melton it is just $360,000. However, in Melbourne, almost half the suburbs 10-20km from the CBD have a median house price of $1 million. Try to buy within 10km of the city and 90 percent of those suburbs have a median house price in seven figures.

What does this mean for parents?

Research is always important for parents when choosing a school for their child. The history of a school’s growth may indicate how the school may change during their time there. Also, with the construction of new schools throughout the greater Melbourne region in the last decade, and more scheduled, there may be more options in their region than parents realise. Resources, such as The Good Schools Guide, are invaluable for parents trying to navigate Victoria’s school landscape.

 

Ross White is Head of Data and Analytics for Good Education Group and heads up the production team for The Good Schools Guide. Ross specialises in market insight within the education sector and has been involved in the evolution of The Good Schools Guide amongst Good Education Group’s other market-leading publications for over 10 years. Learn more about Ross.

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