The Save Our Schools Canberra group today called on the Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, to release the full enrolment application figures for high schools in 2007. SOS spokesperson, Trevor Cobbold, criticised the Minister for releasing only selective figures.
“The Minister will only have credibility for his assertion that enrolments for high schools have increased by 16% if he releases the total enrolment figures for scrutiny.
“The Minister should release the total number of applications received for 2007 and the figures for each school. So far, the Minister has only released some figures for some schools. We need the full picture in order to understand the impact of the Towards 2020 plan.
“Once again the Minister has engaged in the selective release of data. This has been par for the course ever since Towards 2020 was announced.
“The Government has only released data and information that suits its case. It has refused to release the secret Costello report; it has refused to supply detailed cost and savings data for each school as requested by the Legislative Assembly Estimates Committee; it has refused even to say what factors will be considered in assessing the financial and social impact of school closures.”
Mr. Cobbold said that the Government’s figures showing a large increase in applications for high schools in 2007 were highly dubious.
“There are two main reasons for this – parents may have put in multiple enrolments and parents may have applied earlier than normal in view of the uncertainty about the future of several schools.
“Faced with much uncertainty about which schools will be closed and which schools will be re-structured, many parents might be taking the logical route of enrolling their child at multiple schools.
“They may also be bringing forward the time of enrolment in order to maximise their chances of gaining entry at their school of choice.
“The Minister’s argument that only 1st preference applications have been counted is irrelevant. In making multiple enrolments, parents simply change their 1st preference according the school they are filling in a form for.
“The process is that parents fill in enrolment forms for individual schools separately. If they are enrolling at multiple schools, they are likely to change their first preference accordingly for each school so as to maximise their options and chances of succeeding with the application.
“Further, only a few schools have cut off dates for enrolment at this time of the year. Most schools take enrolments right up to the next year. It is likely that many parents may have filled in application forms earlier this year because of the uncertainty created by the Towards 2020 plan. Filling in enrolment figures earlier in the year makes no difference to the total final enrolments.”
Mr. Cobbold also called on the Minister to release the applications figure for Stromlo HS.
“Stromlo goes to a Year 6-10 school from next year. This means that parents of Year 5 students will be enrolling this year as well as the parents of current Year 6 students. On the basis of Stromlo’s current Year 7 cohort of 142, this could involve an additional 140-150 enrolments alone, thus accounting for a significant part of the increase claimed by the Minister.
“The Minister should clarify whether his enrolment application figures include those for Year 6 at Stromlo.”
“For the Minister’s claims to stand up, there is a clear bench-mark. This year there are 2,432 students in Year 7. With the claimed 16% increase, there should now be about 2,800 enrolment applications. A total enrolment of less than this would invalidate the Minister’s claims. It is now up to the Minister to validate his claims.”