Library books will make way for students at overcrowded Brisbane high school

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday

Parents at an overcrowded Brisbane high school that faces losing its library to make way for more students are calling for 16 new demountables to start the new 2024 school year.

Their demand for extra classrooms is in response to a plan to close the government high school’s library and turn storage spaces into additional classrooms, as numbers at the school continue to grow.

Soaring numbers include large out-of-catchment population

Indooroopilly State High School has capacity for 2140 students. In 2023, though, 2794 students enrolled, with 42 per cent living out-of-catchment. That number is expected to climb to 2937 next year and 3012 students in 2025.

But the plan to sacrifice the school library is not popular, with Indooroopilly State High Parents and Citizens (P&C) Association vice president Tony Ellison saying parents would prefer demountables on the oval to cope with the projected influx of even more students.

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Mr Ellison said parents did not want students learning in demountables, but that there was an immediate need for more classrooms. The need for a second tuckshop to cope with the demands of hungry teenagers who are left waiting in the “baking sun for 40 minutes before being served” is another pressing concern.

Students need science labs, toilets, and a new tuck shop

A desperate letter sent from the school’s P&C to several state government ministers, including the state’s Education Minister Grace Grace, pleaded for help, pointing out there were not enough toilets or science labs either.

“The P&C has been informed that students will begin 2024 in a range of converted storage areas, music rooms, and demountable learning areas placed across current access roads,” the letter says. “This approach provides a much more effective and sustainable short-term solution than the current proposed mash-up of converting library space, storage sheds, part of the school hall and other areas and demountable classrooms being placed across the current access roads.”

“That would be a short-term solution because there’s longer-term planning that needs to be done as well,” he said.

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Despite the school’s overcrowding issues, the P&C has thrown its support behind the principal, describing conversations with him as “positive and forward-looking” and saying it does not consider the capacity and enrolment issue to be “one of his making”.

Infrastructure investment not enough

Education Minister Grace Grace said the state government had invested $44 million in infrastructure at the school since 2015 to address growing student numbers.

“We delivered six new classrooms in March this year and we will ensure all students are accommodated in term one, 2024,” she said.

“It’s no secret that Indooroopilly State High has traditionally enrolled high numbers of out-of-catchment students and the Department of Education continues to work with the school to manage out-of-catchment enrolments.”

In the 2023 school year, Indooroopilly State High had 300 more out-of-catchment applications than it could accept.

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By 2046, respected demographer Bernard Salt has forecast a minimum 24 per cent increase in enrolments at the high school.

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]