Between 2007 and 2012, $4.5 billion was invested in Victorian Government schools through two major infrastructure programs: the state-funded Victorian Schools Plan (VSP) and the Commonwealth-funded Building the Education Revolution (BER) program.
These programs saw building works take place at 93 per cent of government schools, and correspondingly the majority of school buildings are currently in a functional condition. However, critical issues with the school building portfolio and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s (DEECD) management of it remain. More than 5 000 individual buildings are below DEECD’s accepted standard, requiring further investment of $420 million to address this. There is a considerable surplus of building space across the portfolio—38 per cent according to current enrolment levels. A legacy of underfunding schools to maintain buildings, and lack of accountability for their doing so means that there is a genuine risk that those buildings developed through VSP and BER will not be adequately maintained, undermining the benefit of this major investment in government schools.
Furthermore, DEECD has not comprehensively evaluated the implementation and the impact of VSP or BER—a significant missed opportunity to identify and leverage the lessons from these significant programs. DEECD’s lack of long-term strategic asset planning for school buildings also compromises its ability to manage the portfolio efficiently and effectively. However, it is positive that DEECD is taking steps to develop such a plan.