Teachers Union says classrooms sweltering as Queensland’s solar schools program kicks off

QTU calls for term shift as solar schools program begins tendering.

The Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) is calling for school term dates to be shifted as the state government begins tendering for the solar schools program.

According to QTU president Kevin Bates, a chronic lack of air-conditioning across the sunshine state’s schools is making summer classrooms unbearable.

Because air-conditioning is expensive, terms could be shifted to avoid peak heat and cold, Bates says.

Queensland to use solar to beat classroom heat

However, last month tenders opened for the state government’s $97 million Advancing Clean Energy Schools program.

Solar schools program will help students access affordable climate control.

Solar schools program means Queensland students can learn in comfort whatever the weather. Image: Pixabay

This means solar installations will be rolled out in more than 800 Queensland schools in three stages.

Schools use energy during the day when the sun shines. Because Queensland enjoys up to an average of 10 hours of sunshine a day, solar is the perfect way to reduce power bills.

Solar schools program to counter heatwaves

According to Bates, extreme heat and cold in the classroom are affecting students’ ability to learn.

City of Ipswich classrooms can hit 42 degrees during a summer heatwave, he claims. Meanwhile, other state schools have bottomed out at one degree with no heating in winter.

Bates suggests starting the school year during the second week of February and finishing the school day earlier to beat the heat. This is practised in the ACT, Tasmania, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Bates also cited a “lack of support” from the Labor Government for climate control in every classroom.

Air-conditioning cheaper with solar power: Union concedes

As reported in the Brisbane Times, Bates concedes that the government’s investment in clean energy will help reduce the cost of air-conditioning.

According to Education Minister Grace Grace, the government has allocated $21 million to air-condition classrooms in Queensland state schools.

State schools in the sunshine state spend more than $67 million on power each year, the Queensland Times reports. They are therefore one of the largest energy users in the state.

The solar schools scheme includes $40 million for new solar power systems. First stage will see up to 30 schools named during Term Four.

Stages two and three will then be rolled out during 2019 and 2020 in remaining schools.