It’s Official: A New Inner-West Primary School Will No Longer Be Built at the Former Toowong Bowls Club Site

It’s official. After deliberations and community consultation, the former site of the Toowong Bowls Club site that suffered damage during the 2011 and 2022 floods has officially been declared an unsuitable venue for a new primary school.

Education Minister Grace Grace confirmed on 15 March 2023 that the former Toowong Bowls Club site is no longer suitable for a new primary school following unprecedented flooding and community consultation. The confirmation comes as the State Government announced its stabilising enrolment changes school timetable.

“Stabilising enrolments means there is currently capacity for around 600 extra students in the existing local state schools. A new state school is therefore not required as soon as anticipated,” the announcement states.

The government will review the original pre-COVID business to determine when and where a new primary school should be built. Whilst this review goes underway, school communities at Indooroopilly, Ironside and Toowong State Schools will benefit from new and upgraded facilities including additional student capacity where needed.

“The Palaszczuk Government has a proud record of delivering educational infrastructure when and where it is needed,” Ms Grace said.

“Good governments are constantly reviewing what needs to be done and where, and it’s clear some of our new schools aren’t needed as quickly as was predicted a few years ago.

“Low birth rates from 2017 onwards, as well as a significant reduction in overseas enrolments due to COVID, means enrolments have stabilised and growth pressures have eased in some areas.

“We are prioritising opening new schools where they are needed, and ensuring best value for taxpayers in what is an incredibly challenging construction market impacted by the rising costs and labour shortages we’ve seen since the pandemic.

“We’ve faced curveballs from unprecedented flooding in Brisbane’s inner west and changes to federal koala protection laws. Stabilising enrolments mean we can now take the time to secure more suitable sites in the inner west and Park Ridge, safe in the knowledge that with upgrades – some of which are already taking place – our existing schools have capacity to accommodate students in the meantime.”

Councillor James Mackay in his social media post said that he will now be pushing for Council to have the former Toowong Bowls Club site refurbished and to push forward with its plans to reopen the facility for community use and public space.

Published 17-March-2023

Perrin Park in Toowong Emerges as Preferred Site for New Primary School

A site in Perrin Park, near the old Toowong Bowls Club, looks to be the preferred location for a new primary school in Brisbane’s west. 

Following the second round of consultations in June 2021, data from the survey revealed that residents have opted for the site, specifically located on Gailey Road, instead of the initially proposed area next to the Indooroopilly State High School.

“Based on the feedback received, the Perrin Park Precinct appears to be the preferred site compared to the ISHS site, but further considerations are required,” the Department of Education updated as the site selection process will conclude by the end of 2021.

“Following site selection, there will be further opportunities for the local community to provide feedback on the project.”

Photo Credit: Education Department

Greens MP for Maiwar Michael Berkman presented the results of the month-long survey between Perrin Park and ISHS. 

“The general finding that the Toowong Bowls Club site has more support is consistent with the balance of feedback I’ve been hearing for the last six months,” he said.

“While neither site is perfect, there is slightly more support for a new primary school there than at ISHS. My position has been that the State Government would need to provide a land swap to offset the loss of the community facilities at Toowong Bowls Club.” 

Photo Credit: Greens MP for Maiwar Michael Berkman
Photo Credit: Greens MP for Maiwar Michael Berkman

However, some residents have raised concerns over the ecological impact around Perrin Park which has an active flying fox colony. Others also voiced their worries over the site’s flooding issues.

The State Government will have to discuss the land’s use as a school facility with Brisbane City Council, which owns the site. Acquiring private land has not been considered.

Brisbane’s new primary school in the west is slated to open in 2024 to ease the student overpopulation in Indooroopilly State School and Ironside.

Parents Petition to Retain QASMT in Toowong in New Primary School Debate

Parents of students attending Queensland Academy for Science (QASMT) in Toowong do not support the proposal to merge with and move the school to Coorparoo Secondary College, amidst the search for an ideal location to build a new primary school in Brisbane’s west.

Education Queensland is considering this option for its space versus the student population. If QASMT moves to Coorparoo, the Toowong site would be refitted and redeveloped to accommodate the new primary school. Some 1,500 students in QASMT whilst fewer than 400 students in Coorparoo Secondary College will be affected by this merger.

But QASMT P and C President Winand D’Souza said in the radio program 4BC said that they “want to keep it where it is” as the move and merger will not be beneficial to most of the students. 

Mr D’Souza said that the State Government has just spent $33 million of ratepayers’ money on QASMT’s expansion and upgrades with top-notch and state-of-the-art science and math facilities. The improvements have sealed the school’s reputation as the “STEM flagship state school specifically for high performing Queensland students.”

“It is important not to disrupt what we’re trying to do [for the kids] by keeping the school where it is.”

Photo Credit: Google Maps
Photo Credit: Google Maps

Following the community meeting on 15 March 2021, Education Queensland representative Helen Kenworthy reiterated the need for a new primary school in the westside to address the overcapacity in Indooroopilly State School and Ironside State School. However, the parents said QASMT will not be a good location for families with kids going to these two schools. 

This isn’t the first instance QASMT’s move and the merger has been brought to the table. A councillor also suggested merging the school with the University of Queensland but the parents held their ground and insisted that the STEM-focused school has to remain in Toowong. 

There were also suggestions to build the school at the former Toowong Bowls Club on Gailey Road in Taringa but Ms Kenworthy said there could be some restrictions on the use of the land as it was a gift to the community from the Perrin family. 

Meanwhile, Mr D’Souza opened a signature campaign addressing the parliament to retain QASMT in its current location. The petition has drawn over 3,500 signatures as of press time and will remain open until 18 April 2021.