‘Everyone is horrified’

‘Everyone is horrified’

Parents, students & school board members do not want to merge schools in Cannington & broader south-east region Photograph — Aaron Van Rongen.

Local students and parents are angry about the short notice and lack of information from the Department of Education about the possible merger of three local schools.

At a second consultation meeting on Tuesday, parents and students said they want no change to their schooling models as it would not only affect the student community but could also disrupt teachers’ employment contracts.

On August 21, the Education and Training minister Sue Ellery announced a consultation process for the community to decide on two options that the state had put out for more “seamless” education in the area.

But during Tuesdays’ consultation at Sevenoaks Senior College, about 80 parents, students and teachers had their say showing they were not happy with either option.

When local grandparent Jhon Summers stood up during the consultation and asked everyone who attended whether they wanted the change – not one person raised their hands.

Through an online survey that opened on August 26, parents, staff and students have the opportunity to select either of the preferred options before 5pm on September 15.

However, no option for no change was given, instead there was an option to select “not sure” along with a box for comments.

During yesterday’s discussion, two department of education representatives answered questions and confirmed they were not recording nor taking notes during the consultation, something many said they were not happy about.

Year 11 student Ryan Haynes who stood up on behalf of the student community, questioned the department as to why parents and students were not consulted earlier.

“If this goes ahead, it is going to be really hard,” he said.

“The campuses are quite small, eventually they will have to build somewhere and it is going to affect everybody around here, we now get distracted by the noise and people on the roof.

“A lot of it was hidden from us because the teachers weren’t allowed to give their opinions.

“It is interesting to know the people that would be more affected by it can’t talk about it. Everyone is horrified and I only found out a couple of days ago.”

Cannington Community College board chair Penny Haynes said it was more than clear that parents want no change to the current school structure.

“All three schools are doing a great job at educating our kids,” she said.

“We don’t understand why we are being asked for our opinion but are not allowed to say that we want things to stay the same.

“We believe that the department of education has made a strategic decision to limit the focus of consultation to these two options, so that the widespread parental preference for retaining the current model of schooling in these three schools is not represented in the results of the survey or community forums.

“Parents have been given no information about the practical details involved in implementing these changes, effect on classroom facilities and playground spaces and the associated cases involved.”

Ms Haynes and the board organised a petition to request an extension of the community consultation process.

So far more than 50 people have signed the petition.