Camilo is a UTS Journalism student completing his final year of study. He is a champion of civil and human rights, and a football fanatic. He produces and presents 'Football Not Soccer: An Australian Football Podcast'.
A new study has found a “significant link” between hotter classrooms and poorer performance in students as the NSW Government announced funding for air conditioning in schools in this week's budget.
The study, conducted by Harvard, UCLA and Georgia University, called Heat and Learning, recently published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research took a sample of 10 million secondary students and found that areas with hotter climates experienced lower test results.
This comes as the budget included funding for air conditioning in a thousand schools even as the NSW Government was accused of stealing a Labor policy.
Shadow Minister for Education Jihad Dib announced the Cool Schools policy in March that would see around 600 schools air conditioned, redirecting $300 million from the government's $2.5 billion dollar pledge to rebuild Sydney’s sporting stadiums.
NSW Minister for Education Rob Stokes said in a March statement that the Cool Schools policy was “full of hot air”.
But this week the Berejiklian Government announced a similar policy as part of the budget with no mention of the earlier criticism.
The government will spend $500 million to put air conditioning in up to 1,000 schools across the state over the next five years.
The NSW Department of Education revealed in February that a number of Sydney schools which had either opened this year or were undergoing renovations to house more students did not include air conditioning in the plans.
Mr Dib said the the government had worked out that Cool Schools was an important policy and had followed suit.
He had previously criticised the government’s policy on dealing with heat in the classroom.
“What we see really clearly is we need a situation where schools are kept cooler so that students can get better learning outcomes. This study supports that.”
Labor's pledged $300 million dollars would include auditing the needs of schools, and a large scale photovoltaics installation scheme that will see schools in need of power upgrades handed solar panels.
“We’ve met specialists in the field a number of times to work out how you could potentially run it. What are the practical measures of doing it, and they said yes they think it can happen,” Mr Dib said.
Annette Everton of Toongabbie, who worked for a Western Sydney high school in numerous administrative roles said the heat “definitely affected students” that she encountered in her work.
“You would definitely notice kids a lot more lethargic and uninterested on hot days. Not all our rooms had air con, so heaps of kids would have that normal teenage behaviour. Head on the desk, stuff like that," Ms Everton said.
“Of course you had kids that just got on with it, but the heat didn’t help.”
Last year, Sydney experienced its hottest summer in recorded history.