Taroona High School’s UTAS ‘academy’ should be offered to all
The Taroona High School UTAS campus for Years 11 and 12 will be no ordinary expansion for students, says Terry Polglase, and should be open for all
FROM 2022, Taroona High School will be extended to offer Year 11 and 12 education at the University of Tasmania’s Sandy Bay campus, an off-site location, many kilometres away in another municipality.
The school currently has a burgeoning enrolment of 1204 students with potentially 600 of their leavers eligible to be enrolled in both years.
This is no ordinary Year 11/12 school top however and places will be keenly sought. The government has always said that the purpose of creating Year 7 to 12 schools was to increase retention of state school students to Year 12. They were provided to retain students who would otherwise finish their education instead of enrolling in one of our eight colleges, as travelling long distances or needing accommodation would be avoided.
The Taroona Year 11/12 offsite campus however is being set up for a different purpose and it will reduce enrolment numbers at Hobart College in particular.
In Queensland, secondary high schools provide educational programs from Year 7 to Year 12. Students are offered a broad range of academic and vocational subjects that enable them to pursue a course of study that will further their educational and career goals. This is exactly what all of Tasmania’s students now receive in our Year 7 to 12 schools.
Queensland, however, also offers enriched education through Queensland Academies. These work in partnership with Queensland universities to accelerate learning opportunities for their best and brightest students in Years 10, 11 and 12 and clearly this is what will be offered to the select group of students who are currently enrolled at Taroona High School and for those into the future.
It will provide a great addition to the offerings provided by the state with its stated strong focus on STEM subjects and it will provide a presence of another inner-city co-ed public senior secondary school near the CBD. In every way the Taroona Year 11/12 campus will be a Queensland Academy by another name.
So, with no fees, and offering a unique education, a place will be highly sought after by many families who currently do, or intend to, have their children educated at Catholic, independent and government schools nearby and elsewhere.
This raises many questions that require answers. Will there be a cap on the numbers allowed to be enrolled in 2022 and beyond, and if so, who will be accepted? How will this impact on the numbers attending Hobart and Elizabeth Colleges? It will, after all, be a campus that will appeal to those who currently enrol at local colleges and not to those who currently end their schooling at the end of Year 10.
Guidelines would say that if your child is enrolled at Taroona High or if you live in the local home area, and this currently includes all of Hobart, your child is entitled to an enrolment. It is, after all, a public school.
The Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA) indicator measures the levels of education and occupation of a student’s parents and Taroona High rates at the 88th percentile nationwide. It compares with Collegiate 93rd, Hutchins 93rd and Fahan 93rd. New Town High,
Ogilvie High, Cosgrove High are, by comparison, placed at the 31st, 27th, and 4th percentiles but there are many individual students of families within these schools who individually would rank equally or better than those at Taroona High.
What will the government be saying to the parents of equally talented students with a desire and aptitude to study STEM subjects who are in Year 10 at Rose Bay, Kingston, Clarence, Cosgrove and all other schools? Will this academy be only for those who have been fortunate enough to have attended Taroona High School?
With New Town High/ Ogilvie High/ Elizabeth College in the middle of a transition and with numbers in their high schools dropping, it is very likely that primary school students enrolled at Mount Stuart, Campbell Street, Lansdowne Crescent and Goulburn Street will, in the near future, be redirected to attend this school and away from Taroona High. With an enrolment of 1208 students it makes sense. Real estate values across the city suburbs will alter accordingly as to whether your postcode provides automatic entry to the academy.
Furthering the range of educational opportunities for our next generation of young learners is of course welcomed but the offering must be made available to all students of southern schools. A postcode cannot be allowed to be the determining factor for entry into this academy.