NSW Government in hot seat over priorities: classroom conditions versus stadiums

Inadequate cooling and heating in NSW public schools reflects decades of lack of investment in school infrastructure, Federation President Maurie Mulheron said today.

Many teachers and students face the prospect of teaching and learning in extremely hot classrooms in the coming weeks. In winter, many teachers and students will work in uncomfortably cold classroom settings.

“Instead of building two stadiums, the NSW Government should invest that money in school buildings and maintenance,” Mr Mulheron said.

Federation will continue to pursue the issue with the Department

“The Department’s suggestions for supporting students and staff in hot weather, include rotating classes through air conditioned spaces, but air conditioned spaces in schools are limited and rotating classes to the space is often not practical. This is not an adequate solution,” Mr Mulheron said.

The Department’s Air Cooling in Schools policy states:

  • Schools with a mean maximum January temperature of 33 degrees or above are provided with cooling to all habitable spaces
  • Schools with a mean maximum temperature between 30 and 33 degrees are eligible to apply for air cooling of “hot spot” classrooms.

“Federation will continue to pursue the issue with the Department, within the context of the policy,” Mr Mulheron said.

Report incidences when your health is affected

Under the NSW Work Health and Safety Act 2011, the Department, as an employer, “has a primary duty of care to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees and other people in the workplace”.

The NSW Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 requires the employer “ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, workers working in extremes of heat or cold are able to carry out their work without risk to their health and safety”.

The union advises members to use the Department’s Work Health and Safety issue resolution procedures to address health issues caused by extremes of heat or cold. See Federation’s Work Health and Safety Bulletin 03, October 2014.