In addition to proposing the closure of 17 schools and 22 pre-schools, Towards 2020 also proposes the conversion of 5 other schools to early childhood schools that include pre-school to Years 3 or 4.
Two of these schools, Charnwood PS and Narrabundah PS, have been given two different options. Two others, Lyons PS and Yarralumla PS, are proposed for amalgamation with other schools, but their sites would be retained as P-3 units. Southern Cross PS is proposed to become an autonomous P-3 school.
Charnwood will either be converted to a P-4 school as part of the amalgamation of three schools to form the Melba Collegiate of Schools or it will be retained as an autonomous P-6 school. Charnwood parents are active in supporting the retention of the school as a P-6 school.
From 2007, Narrabundah PS will be amalgamated with Red Hill PS. Within this administrative framework, two options are being considered for the future of the school. One is to continue as a P-6 school and the other is to convert to a P-3 school.
From 2007, it is proposed that Lyons PS be amalgamated with Curtin PS and that the Lyons site become a P-3 early childhood unit. From 2008, it is proposed that Yarralumla PS will be amalgamated with Forrest PS and that the Yarralumla site become an early childhood unit for P-3.
From 2007, it is proposed that Southern Cross PS will become an autonomous P-3 school and Years 4-6 will close.
Save Our Schools has referred to the re-configuration options for P-3/4 units as partial closures. The Minister for Education has criticised SOS for this description of the early childhood options and states that the schools will remain open.
However, the fact remains that parents of children in Years 4/5-6 will lose their local schooling options for those year levels if any of the above proposals go ahead. For parents of children that are currently at these Year levels, or will be in the future, the school is effectively being closed and they will incur significant additional costs by being forced to attend another, more distant, school. For this reason, partial closure is an apt description of the Government’s proposals.
It is also pertinent to note that schools that have been amalgamated with other schools in the past have not survived. Griffith PS, Spence PS and Stirling College were all amalgamated with other schools and were subsequently closed. Amalgamation has been a stepping stone to school closure.