Cootamundra High School's ancient science labs may finally get an upgrade

| 25.09,18. 08:48 AM |



Cootamundra High School's ancient science labs may finally get an upgrade



Photo: Cootamundra High School's science labs were built closer to World War I than current times. (Supplied)


Cootamundra High School's science labs were built before the moon landing, before the first kidney transplant, and only a few years after DNA was discovered.


And since the oldest of them was built — in 1957 — it has barely changed.


The laminate tables are chipped and covered in graffiti, the tops of desks can be lifted off, and the spouts of the gas taps can be turned loose, causing them to leak.


The ABC understands the classrooms do not have fume hoods to evacuate gas leaks, nor do they have eyewash stations or safety showers.


Staff at the school have expressed concern that the labs pose a safety risk to students.


In one incident, a lab technician accidentally had acid sprayed in their face and had to resort to driving home to shower off.


State MP for Cootamundra Steph Cooke said the labs no longer met the standards and expectations of students and teachers.


"They are old, they are worn-out, and they don't have all the modern instruments and facilities that we've come to expect in our school science labs these days," she said.


NSW Education 'finalising' upgrade for labs


A composite of three photos of chipped desks in a science classroom.


The Nationals member said she was aware of safety complaints and had visited the school personally to see the degree of neglect.


Ms Cooke said the condition of the school's science labs was the most challenging situation in all of the 78 schools in her electorate.


"I understand the condition of them and the work that needs to be done there," Ms Cooke said.


"Their concerns are very well-founded."


The NSW Education office was asked whether the labs failed safety standards by not having showers, wash stations and fume-hood facilities.


It did not respond to those questions, but a spokesman said the NSW Government had spent more than $1 million on maintenance at the school in the last five years.


"The Department of Education is currently finalising plans for the upgrading of science laboratories at Cootamundra High School," the spokesman said.


Ms Cooke said science teachers at the school were doing their best in a difficult environment.


"They've got students that love science, that are engaged with the subject, that likely want to go on and pursue a career in this area, and it's these facilities which are holding them back," she said.


"There are jobs coming to light even now that we would not have thought of 10 years ago, much less 60-plus years ago when these labs in Cootamundra were built."

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