The North Shore’s education warrior
Steph Croft happily admits that over the last few years, she's had her “good times and her bad times”. The financial analyst and mother of two teenagers has been at the forefront of a push to facilitate better educational outcomes for thousands of school children on the North Shore and throughout NSW, after realising that something was “terribly wrong” with our schools, including overcrowding and a dire lack of facilities.
Focused, articulate, passionate, she's been the driving force behind lobbying efforts on behalf of the Northern Sydney Regional Council of Parents and Citizens Association.
Ms Croft believes she has “overwhelming evidence that children and their parents are being disadvantaged and educational outcomes are being squandered in the region”.
Far from admitting that the “battle” has been won, she's happy to acknowledge that enormous strides have been achieved on the North Shore, validating the efforts of numerous P&C committee members and parents throughout the area over the past few years.
I think we have led the charge not only for the North Shore but for many other areas in NSW and interstate,” Ms Croft says. "Statistics show that the lower North Shore is growing by approximately 600 students per year - It's vital for us to secure good outcomes for these children and families." she states.
In 2012 to 2014, Ms Croft says she sometimes worked 60 to 80 hours a week on a voluntary basis, lobbying the state government and MPs in the local area and beyond for more school places and better facilities.
She says she had a dedicated group of members helping to drive the issues, who were excited that at last their concerns in regards to overcrowding and poor facilities in schools were being given some consideration.
Now for the first time in 42 years, after successive state governments either closed schools or refused to acknowledge the perilous lack of places and infrastructure, there are a number of developments underway at several North Shore schools.
These include a new Cammeraygal High School campus at Crows Nest and a new state school at the old UTS campus at Lindfield. Plus, Cammeray Public School and Artarmon Public have new classroom building projects approved, and there are also plans for a new campus at Chatswood Public School.
Lobbyists agree that one of the most important outcomes for the North Shore and indeed for the whole of the state is that at last education will be included in the Sydney Metropolitan Strategy.
The plan sets a path that the government says will ensure that residents have greater access to the things they value, including housing choices and outdoor space. They say it is difficult to understand how it was ever left off this vital planning strategy.
"We have been supported along the way by our local MPs, including Gladys Berejiklian and Jillian Skinner, because we have presented the facts of the crisis and they have responded," Ms Croft tells North Shore Living.
"We are proud to have led the charge because we wanted results and not just short-term fixes for our children.”