19 December 2006

The reality of school closures

| aidan
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The reality of school closures is how they affect the kids.


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It shits me to tears. DET has said they won’t sell off schools, but Urban Services (who now own the closed school properties) have said they will sell off surplus property.

We offered them a deal that had the school at 100% capacity immediately, financial gains by leasing and then selling land to a private childcare centre which will boost enrolments even more, keep the Lyons language programs running if the parents wanted it, and save the community programs that rely on leasing space at the school. I wonder which ALP sponsor will get the development deal?

If only I didn’t have to wait til 2008 to take out my anger in the polling booth.

Actually they’ve admitted that they are going to sell them off to developers.

Well, to be more accurate, our brave leader has said he will give no guarantees in that regard.

I noticed that the Melrose Primary sign has already been ripped down. I just hope that “local graffiti types” can recognise the difference between ex-school property, and the YMCA playgrounds that don’t belong to Urban Services.

By the way, the ACT Govt still hasn’t told the YMCA at Melrose whether they will continue their lease in 2007. Disgusting behaviour from the govt – this is a non-profit group that provide services to the community from babies through to senior citizens. If they don’t get to continue their lease, they will have less than a month to find somewhere to move to. Not an easy job when you have no budget for removals, and can’t afford to pay market rent on commercial premises.

It was very sad to see upset children and parents on the news last night over the closure of Flynn school. That is the impact of such a scorched earth approach adopted in this years budget. People were put last. The bizarre thing is very little really has been saved in a budget sense. So much pain for so little gain. The reality is many costs will be borne by parents. There will be confusion and anxiety for many communities, with their local school closing. And we are assured the buildings won’t be sold. They will sit there empty for a few years – good targets for the graffiti types. That seems real sensible. As I have raised once before, given it has been a goal for political parties for sometime now to reduce teacher/student ratios, what is wrong with smaller classes? In the recent past Labor pollies trumpet a slight fall in the teacher/student ratios. It was always part of their education policy (Iemma/Bracks/ Rann et al) Do we take it that a ratio of around 1:20 is about right but below that isn’t? Where is the cut off point for a lower ratio becoming a bad thing? Perhaps it is all explained in the secret Functional Review which we will all have a chance to see in 10 years.

I don’t see how it’s good for education in the ACT that three adjacent suburbs have no public P-6 school.

I don’t see how it’s good for education that the highest growth suburbs in the Woden district (Chifley and Pearce) now have nothing but a private school on offer. And not even a bus to get them to other public schools in the district.

It’s no wonder the kids are upset.

This could have been made so much easier by closing the first schools at the end of 2007 instead of 2006. That would have enabled parents to have a good think about where to send their kids, schools would have time to adjust their facilities and staff levels to cope with the additional students, and P&C’s wouldn’t be spending their Christmas holidays trying to work out where to send resources that they had bought with their own money.

seepi, no because class sizes will increase as there will be 1) more students and 2) less teachers.

Ah the beauty of the ACT Govt, let’s all bask in its radiant glow of good will.

Your point is hard to understand M.
Do you think the school closures will improve English standards in the young?

Aidan, blind follower of your faith. Do well in your travels, I’m tiring of pointing out obvious comparisons to you.

Just remember, it’s not me you have to convince that the obviously vastly superior Telopea public school which is so good it actually glows in the dark amoung other feats of godlike importance which makes it the object to be revered and held up on a plinth as an example of what is good and beautiful in the world.

It’s the Government.

The Government is disappointed that children are getting out of the school system without fundamental skills such as being able to hold a written conversation in English.

My point, regardless of all this babble about costs, etc la de da has always remained that students are not getting these skills out of the current system.

Put that on your Dias and smoke it, then go along to your shrine of Telopea and worship it, and hopefully the gods of governmental rule will shine on you and bring you prosperity. I also hope that your crops do well next season.

Oops. “I’m not I made myself understood” = “I’ve not made myself understood” in previous comment.


Weston is ringed by private schools (Orana, St Judes and the new Canberra Montessori School). Weston Primary would find it hard to compete as the schools cover a broad spectrum of educational preference.

It is because there is no longer a school in every suburb that it is very important to consider school closures carefully. To make sure that, where possible, equity of access is maintained. The Chifley example is a good one. Combining Lyons and Melrose Primary schools on the Melrose site would have provided the most number of kids with reasonable access to school.


The French Australian Preschool is a separate entity to Telopea school and the fees charged are in line with private preschools. Actually they seem quite cheap. Burgmann Anglican School charges $44/day (= $8880 for 40 weeks a year).

I’m not I made myself understood about the ACT Govt’s costings provided to the community. Any funds provided to the school (from P&C, Federales, whatever) was counted as a cost even though it did not come from ACT Government coffers. This was included in the cost per student figures that the Govt. splashed all over the ads that they put out at the time. This is important, as it penalised schools with active P&Cs who supported the school. This is particularly so with small schools, as the cost per student is more sensitive to small changes in the total budget because it is spread over relatively few students e.g. say the P&C raises money for an all weather cover over the playground which costs $50K. In a school of 100 that would increase the Government’s cost per student by $500, but in a school of 400 the increase would only be $125 per student.

The comment from Wendy (original link) is noteworthy. Her family have have moved here to ‘live in Canberra!’ – then the govt closes the local school. And now she won’t be able to get the bus to work. Stanhopeless.

darklady – i think students would be Outputs. Or praps Inputs. Or even (ick) Customers.

Oh and at Telopea there are diplomatic families, middle and upper class families as well as those on the lower side of the fence.

None pay huge fees.

Telopea has a French/English program from K-6 and then the students have a choice of either the French or English streams. All “core” subjects are taught in that language.

Telopea students are SUBSIDISED by the French Govt, that’s why the costs are down.

It isn’t $4000 to send your child to Telopea. Govt schools can’t have compulsory fees.

Aidan, it was a guess.

Take a look at this site though http://www.frenchaustralianpreschool.com.au/

Your ‘couple of hundred’ will buy you 2 weeks at the bilingual preschool.

There hasn’t been a school in every suburb for decades. There is now no school anywhere near Weston, and only the Lyons P-2 near Chifley. There is also no bus that goes into the suburb of Chifley.

I don’t see what all this talk about French has to do with anything. Although I would imagine that schools with high aspirations such as teaching languages are also very good on the basics such as the English language. And it is well known that language learning is best done when very young.

It can’t improve scholatory (!?) standards to reduce education options.

Meanwhile the much talked about ‘open day’ this afternoon (1-5pm) for all ACT Public Schools seems to have escaped the notice of one reprieved school where we rocked up to find the doors locked at 3.45. So much for us having priority enrollment status.


Where did $4k come from? I just talked to someone who sent their kids to Telopea until recently and they didn’t have anything like that for a ‘voluntary contribution’. More like the few hundred as is the norm these days.

Aidan, the single mother who’s busting her ass to send her child to Telopea who gets hit for a $4k bill every year tells me another story.

Outside funds contributed to schools has a grey relationship to inside funds donated by parents. I know full well how the system works to downgrade the books.


A sane person would think that outside funds would defray the costs to the ACT government (as calculated in their figures). In fact, all outside funds contributed to schools (for shade sails, federal government grants etc) were counted as costs in the Government balance sheets.

I know. Beggars belief.

So, there goes that theory. Care to try another?

Flog off.

I’m not about to preach the cost of buying franco dictionaries, linguistic materials etc and the added cost of hiring french speaking teachers, as it’s rudimentary.

The fact that some RA members have decided to overlook this simple issue belies their intelligence. Of course it is more expensive to enroll a child in Telopea, from the top of my head it’s something like $4,000 a year per student, not too bad for a public system is it ?

Hence I’m allowing the blind followers of their faith to work out for themselves the error of their ways.

Absent Diane4:22 pm 19 Dec 06

Maelinar – I agree 100%. Get the basics right first.

hear-hear what Simto said.

This town CAN provide education for kids – it just can’t necessarily provide the same-suburb, special-treatment-’cause-we’re-all-middle-class-aspirationalists service that it’s been providing for yonks now.

I have a possible answer, by the way, aidan, to why Telopea manages to cost less per student – cost MAY Be calculated on cost to the ACT government only, excluding any payments the parents make towards their sproglet’s education. And Telopea Park’s parents might be more capable of making a contribution towards their sproglet than the average – which brings their cost to government down below the average. Now, I don’t know if that is how the maths are calculated, but it makes the figures coincide wtih common sense – which “immersive french teaching is cheaper than teaching ’em in english” certainly doesn’t.

i don’t want to live in a town that can’t provide education for kids. nor one divided into public and private school enclaves.

Nyssa, I’m not disputing teaching languages at a high school level (from memory, that’s where you teach, right), as part of a balanced program. I’m disputing running immersion-level education in a foreign language to Primary school students in a public school, which seems rather indulgent.

If public education can’t attract primary school students teaching ’em in english, then perhaps the area has enough well-heeled parents to allow them all to drift off to private education?


The Govt’s (admittedly mostly discredited but *possibly* internally consistent) costs per student for Telopea (Primary) is $9325. The average cost per student (using the same figures) is $9506.

Vastly more? Not according to the Govt’s figures.

I taught at a school last year that had several languages and a French stream (gee which one).

It was Govt.

Languages in school were in the English Stream.

I taught at a school that offered several languages other than english, and yes it is more expensive. Vastly more expensive.


I’ll preface this by saying I would not choose to send my kids to an immersion school.

You seem to be implying that it is more expensive to have an immersion program. Do you know this to be the case?

Regardless, there is a pressure on public schools to offer non-core programs to attract enrolments. This may or may not be a useful response to falling enrolments, but it is the current trend.

youshould_knowthis3:19 pm 19 Dec 06

Surely some sort of school covering primary ages in thea rea would be better than none at all, Italian speaking or otherwise.

Good then, I’ll start.

I’d like the little lovelys of Canberrans to learn ENGLISH. If you want an example of the literacy skills of the Canberra youth, look at the threads involving j/jimbo/peter.

All the posturing you like regarding French/Italian/Japanese hasn’t transposed into actual real skills IN THIS COUNTRY, let alone another.

Frankly, the children who don’t have a good grasp on english aren’t likely to be off to Japan/France etc, but that’s not my point. The resources invested in a public education system teaching a blind skill are intense, and the effect is minimal.

If Canberran’s are falling over themselves to learn French, good on them, let them pay for the privilege. Until the scholatory capacity of an average student is higher than the current standard, NO FRILLS EDUCATION.

Maelinar. Evidently not.

Simto, I was just pointing out that this wasn’t some crappy public school that was failing it’s students and was better off closed. They had the motivation to run immersion italian.

Whilst Canberrans are falling all over themselves to be immersed in French (see success of Telopea School) they are not so keen on a bathing in Italian. As a result the program should probably be discontinued. Nevertheless, as I’ve said before, a merged Lyons/Melrose P-6 school on the Melrose site would better serve the kids in those areas. This was the option favoured by Melrose school.

Tarquin? Not another f****ing Roman!

is this a serious thread ?

Tarquin deserves a ‘high quality’ education in the ACT, after all it has been expected since…whenever.

I’m a lazy traveller, so I would benefit greatly if little Tarquin, care of the ACT taxpayer, converses on my behalf when I take the annual family holiday to Tuscany because I put my child through a fully taxpayer funded school.

Heavens, I thought everyone knew about the gravy train that is a public education here with all the trimmings! Oh well, seems it may have come to an end so we all have to go looking other taxpayer funded ‘programs’ to emerse our little Tarquins in…

I’m sorry, but if you think your primary school-aged kid needs to be immersed in italian, then you really should be paying for it, rather than expecting everyone else to shell out so that Tarquin can converse with the locals next time you go to Tuscany…


How is closing Melrose and making Lyons (the only immersion Italian Primary School in Canberra) a P-2 school going to improve the the education of kids in Chifley, Pearce and Lyons?

I’m not so sure it was a kid. Aren’t kids all ‘hay guyz i <3 myspace itz so kewl!!!!’.

In other news..

Dear Mr Prime Minister

My doggy died and I am really sad. Can’t you please bring it back because I’m sad and Santa won’t help! Mum says that he’s in puppy heaven but I think you can bring him back if you pray really hard!

Oh yeah, my school is closing too and that’s really sad.

I’m not so sure it was a kid. Aren’t kids all ‘hay guyz i

What’s sad is giving kids substandard educations becuase you can’t afford to have all the schools at a high enough level, pushing those who can afford it into the private system and turning public schools into gettos for the poor and the expensive to teach.

Absent Diane12:09 pm 19 Dec 06

to be honest this isnt even that cruel… it just putting kids on par with the rest of australia.. where yes they have to travel a little before they get to school. get over it.

This is a good lesson for kids: life is cruel – get used to it!

Absent Diane11:19 am 19 Dec 06

12 comments.. thats a pretty passionate response.

darkladywolf11:19 am 19 Dec 06

What can be said? When you have irrational economic rationalism there’s no room for ‘people’. Or should we be called ‘resources’?

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