Fears for school off the air

Countryman - - NEWS - Rueben Hale

Teach­ers, par­ents and stu­dents have ques­tioned the abil­ity of the School of Iso­lated Dis­tance Ed­u­ca­tion to de­liver qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion to chil­dren in re­mote ar­eas.

Last week’s shock State Gov­ern­ment an­nounce­ment that Schools of the Air would close in 2019 has raised con­cerns the re­place­ment SIDE ser­vice would de­liver a sec­ond-class ed­u­ca­tion.

Iso­lated Chil­dren’s Par­ents’ As­so­ci­a­tion com­mit­tee mem­ber Robin Pensini said the or­gan­i­sa­tion dis­puted State Gov­ern­ment claims the clo­sure would elim­i­nate ser­vice du­pli­ca­tion.

Ms Pensini said stu­dents would be fur­ther dis­ad­van­taged by lack of teacher con­tact, face-to-face sup­port, mon­i­tor­ing, so­cial­i­sa­tion, con­nec­tion to the com­mu­nity, and the pro­vi­sion of full cur­ricu­lum and learn­ing pro­grams would be mod­i­fied.

But La­bor MLC Dar­ren West said re­gional stu­dents would en­joy a “seam­less” tran­si­tion to SIDE.

“Peo­ple im­pacted by the change have ten­dered a range of le­git­i­mate ar­gu­ments, but I have not yet be­come aware of an ob­jec­tion that can­not be sorted,” he said

Na­tion­als Mem­ber for North West Cen­tral Vince Cata­nia helped or­gan­ise ral­lies at Kar­ratha, Ger­ald­ton and Kal­go­or­lie.

He said the McGowan Gov­ern­ment was try­ing to wrap a $64 mil­lion cut to re­gional ed­u­ca­tion and sell it re­mote fam­i­lies as a gift. “It is an empty box of hope,” he said.

Sec­ond gen­er­a­tion Meekatharra pas­toral­ists Jim and Fiona Ford, of Pa­roo Sta­tion, are ed­u­cat­ing their chil­dren us­ing SOTA.

Mrs Ford said her chil­dren — Olivia, 15, Char­lie, 13, and sev­enyear-old twins Isla and Flynn — en­joyed sta­tion life. “The fam­ily of SOTA is a whole school en­vi­ron­ment,” she said.

The Ford chil­dren, Isla, 7, Oivia, 15, Flynn, 7, and Char­lie, 13, en­joy grow­ing up on Pa­roo Sta­tion in the Pil­bara.

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