July 28th, 2005 at 10:25pm
It appears that the ACT Government are finally proving beyond all reasonable doubt that they are loony.
They have decided that it is a good idea to close Ginninderra High School, not that anyone agrees with them or wants it to happen, and they have decided to close it, end of story. However, they plan on replacing it with a Kindergarten through Year 10 “Super School”, and at the same time closing a bunch of other Belconnen area schools so that everyone will get to go there.
So now that you are up to speed with the story, lets have a look at this in more detail.
Firstly, the ACT Government are closing Ginninderra High School, the announcement was a bit late though, it was after the closing date for enrolments, and seeing as it is closing at the end of the year, well, people are just plain stuffed. They chose the school because they thought it would be a good school to choose, and now they have to go around to other schools which are most likely to be further away and find out if there is a vacancy for their child. Why couldn’t they gradually phase out the school by not taking any more new students? Certainly it would take time, but it would avoid this ridiculous mess. And the same can be said for existing students, the enrolment period is over, so it is time to visit the other high schools and check for vacancies.
What about consultation, well they did meet with some P&C members from the surrounding area a few months back, not for consultation, just to say “we like this”, and their was a confidentiality agreement to go with it. The government denied they had conducted this meeting at first, and then when it became obvious that they had occurred they did a backflip and said “Yes, we had a meeting.”
The government claim that Ginninderra high is an ageing dinosaur that needs to be pulled down because it is too large for it’s present number of students, could this be because the government don’t like to spend money on maintaining schools by any chance? The government invented the situation of low population of Ginninderra High by cutting costs and making the place unattractive to potential students, and now they want to take it out on everyone else.
I do have to wonder how Ginninderra High even comes remotely near being old, based on the building style, it was probably built during the 70’s or 80’s, which is, compared to other schools in Canberra, fairly young. My primary school (Ainslie Primary) was built in 1927 and still works just fine. (To be more precise, the original building which is now being used as an arts centre was built in 1927 as a temporary home for the school until the “new” building was built, late 20’s early 30’s).
Of course the plans for the site after they pull down the existing school are even more bizarre. The government want to build a super school catering for students from kindergarten to year 10. Oh what fun and excitement!
Anybody who has been in a playground of a primary school or a high school would know that it isn’t exactly bliss. In my experience, primary schools separate the junior kids from the senior kids due to size and maturity differences. High schools are often warzones at break times. So now we combine all of this, put it on a pretty small playing area, and hope for the best.
I’m sure the junior primary school kids will stay in their zone, I doubt that the senior primary school kids will stay in their zone, and I would bet that the high school kids will pose a danger to the junior primary school kids, not all of them, but you are always going to have the handful of difficult students.
Would you want every child aged 5-16 from the Belconnen area in your backyard? I didn’t think so. So why do the government want to do the same thing in a slightly larger area? Good question, lets have a look.
One very large super school in an area means all the other schools get to close, meaning the government can sell off the land and make a pretty penny out of it while we sit back and see more high rise apartment blocks appearing where we used to have schools.
The other thing that needs to be taken into account here is the educational standards of a super school. Whilst the super school would have a high concentration of quality teachers, it would also have a very high concentration of students, and you can bet that the government will do all they can to cut costs, eg. Higher class sizes and less funding for new equipment. Shared resources would become an issue, for example, how many computer labs do you put in? How often will you upgrade them? What kind of gym facilities will there be? What about an assembly hall, it would surely be horrible getting every kid aged 5-16 in the Belconnen area into one room, it is hard enough to make it work when you have all the 5-12 year olds from two suburbs.
Then there is the psychological effects this will have.
One of the main working aspects of the transition from primary school to high school, and from high school to college, is the physical change of location. A different location with different rules and a different atmosphere makes it much easier to adapt. How do you suddenly expect 12 & 13 year olds to accept a massive change in how they operate if they are in the same place, with the same staff, and the same atmosphere? It is hardly easy to make them accept that “You are now in year seven and we expect this from you.” It is much easier to say “Here at xyz High School things are different to your old primary school.” And students will accept the latter much more easily than the former.
Of course, it isn’t as if the government are giving us much choice here, they are pulling down Ginninderra High, end of story, but we can stop this new super school and have the money spent on our hospital waiting lists or improving our existing schools.
I really can’t see why the government can’t do what they have done with just about every other school in Canberra and have a “Renovation Program” which will bring it up to the government’s constantly changing standards.
Basically, the government have made an unholy mess, and they are going to try and convince us that is looks good.
The education minister, Ms. Katy Gallagher (the loopy woman with a silent g), is having a baby (I pity him or her), and I can almost guarantee that she will be leaving town when it comes to the time where her child needs to be enrolled in a school. After all, she wouldn’t want her child educated in her mess of an education system would she?