CHILDREN are being forced to study out of tents or sit on the floor when they attend mini-school due to a severe classroom shortage at distance education facilities across Queensland.
The situation is most dire at the Capricornia School of Distance Education in Rockhampton, which has experience a huge growth in enrollment in recent years.
Geographically isolated rural children are suffering from a lack of dedicated space when they attend school as classrooms are being filled with the additional teaching staff hired to keep up with the increase in student numbers.
Capricornia School of Distance Education P&C president Jackie Lindenmayer said enrollments had increased from 275 students in 2014, to 3237 in 2019.
The increase was mainly children who did not thrive in mainstream schools and those attending to study specialised single subjects.
Ms Lindenmayer, who lives 90km from Monto, has three children in years 2, 4 and 6 who study via Rockhampton.
She said extra classrooms were desperately needed to accommodate geographically isolated students, with 80 secondary and 50 primary kids attending the last mini-school having nowhere to sit.
"It is really important for kids to come to mini school, and for home tutors to undertake professional development, but they are being jeopardised by the lack of facilities. We had a couple of people say they are not coming to mini-school as there is no room."
St Lawrence mother of six Ainsley McArthur's three youngest children study via distance education at Rockhampton.
"Because of the pressure on the space the children are now often not in traditional classrooms, they are sitting in little tents outside of the buildings," she said.
"They miss out on the opportunity to sit in a classroom at a desk and have a teacher in front of them, which is really important as many of these kids will go on to boarding school for high school.
"For geographically isolated students this is their only opportunity for education."
Sonya Shelley from Wandoo Station, Nebo, also educates her children Darci-Jayne, year 5 and Nate, prep, via Rockhampton.
Darci-Jayne started with distance education in 2015 and Mrs Shelley said she was pleased with the support given to parents and home tutors through professional development at mini-school.
"Since 2015 we've had exponential growth within the school and the conditions are very cramped. Most recently we did not have any facilitation of any professional development for home tutors."