Rural schools ‘ crippled’ by grade move
A CONTROVERSIAL plan to shift Year 7 students from primary to high school has been branded ‘‘ devastating’’ for rural families.
State Education and Traini ng shadow minister Dr Bruce Flegg said the move would mean rural and regional North Queenslanders would have to send their children to boarding schools earlier and for longer.
‘‘ The other big issue is that these small schools will lose students and their longerterm viability could well be threatened,’’ he said.
‘‘ It’s not just about changing from one class room to another. It’s about parents in remote areas having to send their children away a year earlier to boarding school, for six years instead of five, so there are significant extra costs involved.’’
The issue had already been raised by Cathedral School middle school head Darren Parks last month, who said wh i l e h e we l c o me d t h e change, parents would have to prepare children for high school at a younger age.
Mr Parks said parents had to make children aware they would have to leave home and leave the country.
However, he also said the move at a younger age would give students a smoother transition into the higher grades of schooling.
Dr Flegg warned while the changes would not have a major effect on city schools, i t w o u l d c r i p p l e r u r a l schools, who could lose as many as 20 per cent of their students by cutting back to teaching Prep to Year 6.
Dr Flegg vowed to work with local communities to stagger t he changes and would work with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority – the body responsible for developing a national curriculum from kindergarten to Year 12.
Dr Flegg said more than 50,000 Queensland students and 1800 Year 7 teachers would be affected by the move of the grade.
‘‘ While the move may be seen as inevitable under the Nati o nal Curri c ul um, i t should not be rushed and, where necessary, staggered and in full consultation with local communities,’’ he said.
North Queensland regional d i r e c t o r f o r E d u c a t i o n Queensland, Mike Ludwig, said planning had already been formulated for high schools to cater for Year 7 students.