Call to Avoid Massive Disruption to Schools

The Save Our Schools Canberra group today called on the ACT Government to urgently resolve the teachers’ dispute and initiate an inquiry into the financial and social impact of the Towards 2020 plan.

SOS spokesperson, Trevor Cobbold, said that the combination of the continuing industrial dispute and the school closure plans threatens massive disruption for government schools at the beginning of the 2007 school year if the Government doesn’t act soon on both issues.

“The combination of the unresolved teachers’ dispute and the proposed school closures is a recipe for staffing chaos in schools at the beginning of next year.”

“Adequate staffing of schools for next year is threatened by the ongoing teachers’ dispute and the proposed closure of 22 pre-schools and schools at the end of the year. As a result, many schools will not have the staff they need to start the school year.

“Students will be the main losers in all this, whatever the inconvenience for teachers and families. Student learning will be disrupted for some considerable time. New students and students transferring from closed schools will lack proper support in settling into their new school.

“At this stage, no-one even knows what staffing formula will apply for next year. This means that schools cannot determine their staffing requirements and the Department of Education cannot determine which staff will need to transfer to other schools. The long process of advertising, filling vacancies and organising transfers is being delayed by the failure to resolve the dispute.

“This situation is compounded by the proposed closure of 22 pre-schools and schools. Which schools will close will not be known until nearly Christmas; existing schools will not know what their enrolments are until late January, at the earliest. Schools will not know if they have enough teachers. There will be many last minute transfers of teachers between schools.

Mr. Cobbold said that the Government has to act now in the interests of students, teachers and families to avoid the potential chaos.

“The industrial dispute has now being going for a year. It is the longest industrial dispute involving teachers in the last 25 years. It needs to be resolved urgently.

“An inquiry needs to be established to provide more time to fully assess the financial and social impact of school closures and to determine any necessary transition arrangements.”

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