Fears for school off the air
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.