Concerns over school closures - 9th June 2014

The State School Teachers’ Union has described Colin Barnett’s comments about possible school closures in the northern suburbs as irresponsible. 

Reports suggest the government could consider closing some secondary schools in Perth’s north which have fewer than 1200 students.

The SSTUWA said the idea of school closures was driven by the government’s bottom line, not the good of students.

“Closing schools is simply a way of saving the government money,” said SSTUWA President Pat Byrne.

“But instead of its budget bottom line, the government’s main focus should be the education of the students in those schools and what is best for them.

“There are many northern suburbs schools which educate students at risk of disengaging. They have a number of very successful programs which are working because student numbers are relatively small and students therefore get the attention they need.

“To say that there is such a thing as a uniform enrolment figure which works for all schools is simply not correct.”

Ms Byrne said the timing of the Premier’s comments was particularly unhelpful.

“To make these comments when Year 7 parents are choosing schools for their children for 2015 will create uncertainty for hundreds of parents considering sending their children to those northern suburbs schools with relatively low numbers,” she said.

“They will now be unsure as to whether they can rely on those schools remaining open until their children complete their secondary education.”

Ms Byrne said closing schools in low socio-economic areas was of particular concern, and the government should be doing everything it could to encourage teenagers in those areas to attend school.

“Closing schools can have a severe impact on attendance, because teenagers are less likely to go to school if they have to travel a long way to get there.”

Ms Byrne said the Union was also concerned about the impact that throw away lines about school closures would have on teachers considering applying for jobs in those schools as part of the Year 7 transition to secondary schools.

“Hundreds of teachers will be seeking to transfer into secondary schools because of the transition,” she said.

“Many will now be uncertain of any job security at the schools which have been mentioned.

“This could have a serious impact on the numbers of teachers applying to those schools.

“Our members deserve job security and if the government does have plans to close schools in the northern suburbs, it needs to come clean and tell us which ones.”