Stronger Requirements for Consideration of School Closure Proposals

After a long campaign by Save Our Schools to improve the process for considering school closures, several amendments to the ACT Education Act were passed this week by the ACT Legislative Assembly.

The amendments should ensure a better consultation process around school closure proposals and ensure a much fuller analysis of the impact of proposed school closures. They should ensure a better hearing for school communities than occurred in 2005 for Ginninderra District HS and in 2006 under the Towards 2020 plan. Continue reading “Stronger Requirements for Consideration of School Closure Proposals”

Most Children Attend Their Neighbourhood School

Government claims that the neighbourhood school is obsolete and that most students do not attend their local school are refuted by the Government’s own enrolment data.

The Minister for Education has argued that large numbers of families have deserted the neighbourhood school.

…the majority of students now do not walk to school. Approaching 50 per cent of students in our public system in fact do not even attend their local school and go past often eight or ten other government schools to attend a particular school that their parents have chosen or that they have chosen. So I think it is already the case that parents and students are making the choice not to attend local schools. [Hansard, 16 August 2006]

The Minister has also argued that the neighbourhood school is a relic of the sixties and seventies and that it does not now reflect the modern day realities of Canberra and the way in which parents and students are making choices about which school to attend [Hansard, 16 August 2006].

These claims are incorrect. The Minister for Education has mislead the Legislative Assembly and the public about the extent to which students attend a government school other than their local school.

The fact is that the large majority of families continue to support their local school. According to 2006 enrolment data, 64 per cent of primary school students are attending their local neighbourhood school.

It is also relevant to note that in the secondary sector, 62 per cent of students attend their local high school and 63 per cent of college students attend their local college. These figures are similar to those of ten years ago; the high school figure is slightly down on that of 1996, while that for colleges has increased slightly.

Furthermore, only about half of the primary schools proposed for full closure retain less than 50 per cent of the resident PEA students. Several primary schools proposed for closure retain an above average proportion of resident PEA students: for example, Gilmore (66%), Giralang (70%) and Holt (67%).

Several of the schools that retain less than 50% of the resident PEA students meet particular needs of the local community in that they have a large proportion of low SES, Indigenous and SWD students: for example, Melrose, Mt. Neighbour, Rivett and Village Creek. Nearly all the schools proposed for part closure and which retain less than 50% of the resident PEA students also serve particular needs of the local community.

Thus, contrary to the claims of the ACT Government, the neighbourhood school still serves an important role in the local community and is supported by the large majority of families.

Trevor Cobbold

Flynn considers further action on school closures

Following the scathing findings of the School Closure Inquiry, the Flynn Primary School Parents and Citizens Association is calling on the Greens to stand up for communities in the upcoming sittings of the Assembly, by supporting the re-opening of Flynn, Hall, Tharwa and Cook schools. Continue reading “Flynn considers further action on school closures”

Joint Media Statement – Tharwa, Flynn and Cook Parents and Citizens.

Tharwa, Flynn and Cook parents and citizen associations (P&Cs) today called on the Labor, Liberal and Green Members of the Legislative Assembly to support a motion to re-open Primary Schools in Tharwa, Hall, Flynn and Cook. Hall P&C also welcome moves to re-open schools. Continue reading “Joint Media Statement – Tharwa, Flynn and Cook Parents and Citizens.”

ACT Education Minister Should Resign

Save Our Schools today called on the ACT Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, to resign because he misused research evidence in his decisions to close schools.

SOS Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said that the Legislative Assembly should pass a no confidence motion in the Minister if he fails to tender his resignation. Continue reading “ACT Education Minister Should Resign”

School Closure Report Fails to Deliver

The Education Committee of the ACT Legislative Assembly has delivered a weak-kneed report on school closures. It has failed to deliver a better process for considering school closure proposals in the future. It has dashed the hopes and expectations of many for a better approach. Continue reading “School Closure Report Fails to Deliver”

Looking Back at School Closure Issues in the ACT

Convenor of Save Our Schools, Trevor Cobbold, delivered a paper on school mergers and closures to a forum in Adelaide on 3 September 2009 sponsored by the South Australian Branch of the Australian Education Union. The forum was titled “Education Works or Education Wilderness?”

The paper describes the background to the school closures announced by the ACT Government in 2006 and discusses the key issues and lessons arising from the campaign against school closures.

Continue reading “Looking Back at School Closure Issues in the ACT”