Minister Denies Parents Access to Super School

The ACT Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, has unilaterally denied several families access to the new super school in West Belconnen. Many parents have found out less than two months before the Charles Kingsford Smith School is due to open its doors that their children will be unable to attend because it will only take P-7 students for 2009.

The Stanhope Govt has misled the people of West Belconnen. For the past three years, the super-school has been promoted as opening in 2009 as a P-10 school. There has never been any indication that the opening of the school would be phased in. Families have just been told of this now, only two months before the school opens in the New Year.

Just last October, the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, officially opened the school saying that it would open as a P-10 school. She must be severely embarrassed by the decision of the ACT Minister for Education.

Many families have had their plans for the 2009 school year turned upside down. They enrolled their children for 2009 on the basis of the Government’s statements that the school would open as a P-10 school. Their enrolment forms were accepted and school uniforms ordered, but they have only just been informed that their enrolment will not be honoured. Many will face unexpected travel costs to another school.

Despite the Government’s commitments, these families are being denied the opportunity to continue their children’s education at a modern new school. The Minister for Education has long lauded the facilities at the new school, but has now denied access to them for some families.

These families have been treated with disdain and contempt by the Education Minister. They are entitled to be very angry. This is yet another failure in government planning in education. It is yet another disaster in community relations by a Minister with a track record for this. It smacks of the same arrogant approach to the local community that brought the Government undone at the last election.

Obviously, the Minister has decided that there are insufficient enrolments at the school for Years 8-10. So, he has decided that it is the parents will bear the inconvenience and unplanned financial costs of his own incompetence.

The Government should honour its commitments and allow these students to enrol. It should be the Government which has to bear the inconvenience and costs, not the families who have responded in good faith to the Government’s promises.

Trevor Cobbold

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