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Barr can’t count

By emd - 27 July 2006 20

This ABC story shows that Barr can’t count. Apparently he wants to close Melrose Primary and Chifley pre-school because of falling enrolments. Never mind that Chifley has actually had a dramatic increase in births in the past few years, with expectations that it will continue.

When asked about his inability to count babies as potential students in a few years, Barr said they might go to private schools. Well of course they bloody will, if you’ve closed the only public school within walking distance!

You can read full details, including the ABS data on which the story is based, at the Save Melrose and Chifley Pre-school website.

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Barr can’t count
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publius 11:00 am 29 Jul 06

Mr Shab
The Government hasn’t indicated just how the assets will be actually used. We can only assume they will not be used for schooling. They say they won’t sell them off. We’ll see about that in 3-4 years time. Many schools are not really all that suitable for public service offices. The big problem with unoccupied schools is they will rapidly be covered in graffitti and have their windows broken. That won’t help building community spirit and pride! So we get back to the key point..the closures represent false savings…so what’s the point of closing them down?

Thumper 6:03 pm 28 Jul 06


you forget that Canbera was designed to be like that. The idea was, well, it was when I was here as a little taker, that you could walk to your local primary school.

It was one of the attractions of Canberra.

Sadly it no longer will be so.

I should add that West Belconnen is going to suffer under the closures and yet we have this massive suburb called Dunlop that is filled with young families.

Makes no sense to me I’m afraid and Mr Barr has yet to have said anything that wil convince me otherwise.

Mr_Shab 3:26 pm 28 Jul 06

Have the government stated that they are selling off the schools being closed? Or are they being mothballed?

If they’re being mothballed, or rented to community groups, where’s the problem? They can be reopened when required.

However – given the current administration’s record on such things, I’d like to see it in writing…

Woody Mann-Caruso 3:21 pm 28 Jul 06

Again, baby boom != viable separate school. You’d need to show that the boom would create sufficient students to overwhelm or siginficantly degrade the quality of existing infrastructure, and that setting up a separate school with its own overheads would be a more efficient and effective use of public money than simply giving extra resources to existing schools to cope with the demand. You can analyse that single ABS cube all you want – you won’t find the answer there, though. It’s a complex problem, and it requires complex analysis, and some statistician from Chifley putting together a single bar graph isn’t going to cut it.

Canberra needs to get over this mentality that every citizen is entitled to a complete civic infrastructure within walking distance of every house.

Pandy 1:24 pm 28 Jul 06

Andrew was on The World Today across Australia. He said we have to close schools “for example schools were built to cater for 700 students now have 70” or something. the transcript is not yet on at

emd 8:58 am 28 Jul 06

Absolutely seepi! DET provides pre-schools with a building and a teacher, but the materials and equipment are provided by parents.

seepi 4:41 pm 27 Jul 06

There is also a baby boom in the inner north. There is currently a 3 month wait to join a mothers’ group, due to the huge numbers of babies being born. Yet preschools are being closed through teh inner north as well. It surprises me that preschools are that expensive for the government. And preschools are typically a small building on a normal house block – not much to be gained seling them off.
The rest of the country is looking at ways to increase pre-school enrolments, as they are seen as very valuable for early childhood development. Populations will change over time. It seems very very short sighted to close down services due to a lull in numbers, when an increase is already on the horizon, in the larger numbers of babies being born now.

Thumper 4:19 pm 27 Jul 06

One suspects that, come the next election, the government will announce that they have ‘found’ some money and have ‘listened to the Canberra community’ and will therefore say they are only cutting 10-15 schools which will equate to ‘a saving’ of 10-15 schools.

And everyone will rejoice and be happy.


emd 3:43 pm 27 Jul 06

You could download the data cube and analyse it yourself. It’s from ABS: Population Estimates by Age and Sex, Australia by Geographic Classification 3235.0.55.001 issued 30 June 2006.

I think you’ll find that in a few years time, Chifley will have more than enough primary school aged children to keep the local school open.

There’s been a baby boom in the suburb now that lots of Gen X-ers have made a small dent in the mortgages they acquired in the housing bubble.

Woody Mann-Caruso 3:23 pm 27 Jul 06

An increase in births is not the same thing as sufficient students to warrant a separate school.

DT 3:14 pm 27 Jul 06

All it has is the estimates at 30 June 2005. A single year’s data is meaningless. No sign of the 2000 figures used to come up with the apparent 100% increase.

At best it’s lazy. At worst it’s intentionally misleading.

Show us figures where, year-on-year, the number of 0 to 4-year-olds in Chifley is rising significantly, and you might just be able to make a case to keep the school open.

emd 2:54 pm 27 Jul 06

If you read the original press release on the Save Melrose and Chifley Pre-school website, the actual numbers from ABS are given in a PDF.

snahon 2:27 pm 27 Jul 06

You can make percentages and statistics show what ever you want. If they are going to close schools, the only numbers they should be considering is the actual sums (taking into account demographic projections) since at the end of the say a school will only ever have X enrolments.

As DT points out, a percentage is just a percentage it means nothing unless there are actual numbers against it…

DT 2:19 pm 27 Jul 06

They may well have a point, but that article is meaningless, poorly-written spin. On a par with the government’s meaningless, poorly-written spin.

What about the actual numbers behind the percentages? A 100% increase in the birth rate could simply mean two babies were born instead of one.

And what exactly does this mean?
“Chifley has 70% more babies and toddlers than 5-9 year olds whilst the rest of Woden has 15% fewer”

It’s going to take more than this crap to be convincing.

snahon 2:05 pm 27 Jul 06

Since when does govco look at anything other then the superficial ?

emd 1:37 pm 27 Jul 06

Actually, there are private pre-schools. Most of them are hideously expensive (eg Canberra Grammar or Radford pre-schools) and you have to put your name on the waiting list before the baby is born.

There is a private but affordable playschool for 3 & 4 year olds in the Woden area. It’s run by YMCA at the Melrose Primary campus. And if Melrose closes, YMCA may have to move out too – which means no pre-school at all!

All this talk of education costs seems to be distracting discussion from education quality and outcomes.

VYBerlinaV8 1:30 pm 27 Jul 06

Once again, govco looks at the superficial and ignores the underlying…

S4anta 12:58 pm 27 Jul 06

People, although the government may be closing the schools that they run. I am sure that they will not stand in the way of ABC Learning, or even another business entity from opening up an operation. I am all for community awareness and advocacy, but surely we have heard that in every battle, a fall position is needed. Perhaps its time to start looking at viable, commercial alternatives. I have been told quite reliably that there are many business people eyeing this transistion with very, very greedy looks in their Lord Valdermort-esque snake-like eyes.

seepi 12:50 pm 27 Jul 06

And there are n’t any private pre-schools are there??

Thumper 11:56 am 27 Jul 06

Which demonstrates quite adequately that government really didn’t put much thought into it at all.

Maybe they employed a soothsayer….

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