Call to Investigate Breach of Education Act on Urambi School Closure

Save Our Schools today accused the Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, of breaching the ACT Education Act in the consultation over Urambi Primary School.

SOS spokesman, Trevor Cobbold, called on the Education Committee of Legislative Assembly to investigate the breach and call the Minister to account.

“The Minister has ignored both the spirit and the letter of the law on school closures by not consulting with Urambi on whether it should close or not. It is a grave breach of the Education Act.

“The Education Act (s.20) requires the Minister to adequately consult with school communities about proposals to close or amalgamate a government school before a decision is made on the proposal. This has not occurred in the case of Urambi school.

“The Minister decided to close Urambi before he initiated any consultation with the school. This is evidenced from his own media releases on Urambi.

“His media release on 13 December 2006 which announced the new Kambah P-10 school also stated that community consultation would commence on ‘the closing of Urambi Primary School at the end of 2010 to become part of the P-10 school’ which is next door to Urambi.

“His media release last week about a new consultation on Urambi states that its purpose is ‘to discuss the future of the Urambi Primary School site after students are relocated to the new (P-10) school in 2011’.

“Clearly, the Minister for Education has contravened his own legislation. He decided to close Urambi before entering into consultations with its community.

“At no stage have Urambi parents and residents been given the opportunity to consider whether their school should be closed. They were given a ‘fait accompli’ as a result of the Government’s decision to establish a ‘super school’ on the Kambah High site.”

“Despite the Minister’s claims, no school community in Kambah proposed a P-10 school – not Kambah High, not Village Creek Primary, not Mt. Neighour Primary and not Urambi. Urambi didn’t even put in a public submission because it was not nominated for closure. There was no community consultation on this option before it was adopted by the Government.”

Mr. Cobbold called on the Education Committee of the Assembly to take action.

“It is incumbent on the Education Committee to call the Minister to account. Such a blatant contravention of the law cannot be permitted to stand.

“The Committee should investigate this breach of the Education Act as part of its inquiry into school closures. It should seek independent legal advice on the Minister’s action and call the Minister to appear before the Committee.”

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