The peak public education advisory body to the ACT
Government has expressed alarm at the extent and impact of school closures
proposed in the Towards 2020 Plan. It has also indicated its grave concern
about the impact of the Budget on equity in education.
In a response to the Education Budget, the Government
Schools Education Council has said that the Budget will clearly exacerbate
inequity in the ACT, undermine the Canberra Social Plan, restrict access to
higher performance, and affect the quality of educational provision. It expressed
its alarm at the extent and impact of the school closures proposed, the extent
of head office cuts and their effects, and the extent of the reductions
proposed to the teaching force.
Continue reading “Education Council Alarmed at School Closures”
The Stanhope Government has admitted that it has no plans in
place to cope with increased bus travel by students as a result of school
closures. Nor has it any plans to improve traffic safety measures for students
walking or cycling long distances to and from school.
Continue reading “No Funding for Increased Student Bus Travel and Student Safety”
Before the 2004 ACT election, a spokesman for the then
Minister for Education categorically ruled out closing any schools during the
next term of government. He said:
“The Government will not be closing schools”. [Canberra
Times, 12 August 2004,
Last year, the same spokesman said that the Government has no plans to close more schools in Canberra beyond Ginninderra District High School:
“There is no active consideration [of school closures] at
the moment, it is not on the Government’s agenda.” [Canberra Times, 26 July 2005, p.1].
The following day the Minister for Education was reported as
ruling out further school closures, with a spokeswoman for the Minister
“There are no other plans on the agenda.” [Canberra Times, 27 July 2005, p.1].
On his first day as Education Minister, Andrew Barr scoffed
at speculation that the ACT Government had plans to close 33 schools and denied
the Government was looking at this many.
“I don’t think…that we need to go to 33.” [Canberra Times, 22 April 2006, p.1]
Just six weeks later he announced the Plan to close 39
Continue reading “Just for the Record – Other Broken Promises”
The list of broken promises by the Stanhope Government on
school closures continues to grow. The latest is the Government’s reversal on
selling off school sites.
The Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, told regional
consultation meetings held in June that school sites would not be closed. For
example, he gave a firm commitment to the South-East
Belconnen regional meeting on 27 June that ‘there will be no land
sales as a result of school closures’ (Canberra Times, 28 June 2006).
Now the Chief Minister has unilaterally broken this
commitment. He told the Canberra
Times (5 August, 2006)
that the Government will likely sell unused school land for residential
development and aged-care facilities.
So, the Government’s commitment not to sell school sites
lasted only about 5 weeks.
Continue reading “School Sites to be Sold – Another Broken Promise”
The Government’s Towards 2020 Plan is in tatters and the
process of consultation has become a shambles. The Government is ignoring its
legal obligations to consider the full educational, financial and social impact
of its Plan. Obfuscation and deceit has become the modus operandi of a Government under pressure. It is time for an
independent public inquiry to clean up the mess.
Continue reading “The Case for an Independent Public Inquiry on School Closures”
The Education Minister, Andrew Barr, continues to deny
important data to school communities. He has refused to provide detailed data
on school costs and savings for each individual school proposed for closure or amalgamation.
In effect, the Minister’s refusal and stated reasons for not supplying the data
demonstrates that the Government’s school closure plan is based on incomplete
and inadequate data.
Continue reading “Minister Refuses to Divulge Savings Figures”
The ALP Branch Conference held at the weekend has revealed a
party and a Government that is deeply divided over the Towards 2020 school
closure plan. The Conference vote against a moratorium on the Plan was only 100
to 96. The two previous Education Ministers, Simon Corbell and Katy Gallagher,
voted for a moratorium as did some Government backbenchers.
This is a major division that threatens the future of the
Government. The Chief Minister has his head in the sand if he thinks otherwise.
The division in ALP ranks has been created by the resistance
and protest of school communities and parents across Canberra at the Government’s plan.
Continue reading “Labor is Divided On School Closures”
The Government’s estimates of savings from closing 39 schools are over-stated.
The Minister for Education has recently admitted to several additional costs that will be incurred by closing schools and which have not been offset against the savings estimates. Continue reading “Savings from school closures overstated”
The Government has failed to provide any information on the impact of its proposed school closures on student bus travel or on ACTION costs and revenues. The Education Minister, Andrew Barr, has asserted at regional consultation meetings that increases in student bus travel will be met by alterations to existing services. Continue reading “Increased Student Bus Travel Costs Will Cut Savings from School Closures”
The Minister for Education, Mr. Andrew Barr, was caught out under forensic questioning about information on the shift to private schools in the Estimates Committee hearings on Education on 28 June.
The Minister was requested to provide information on why families transfer from the government school system to the private sector. He inadvertently revealed that the Government had not done any planning on the impact of school closures on the shift to private schools because the information on why families move has to be collated from individual schools. Continue reading “Dissembling in the Assembly”