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Media Release 2 September 2006 - More Shonky Figures From the Minister?

Saturday September 2, 2006

Save Our Schools Canberra today questioned the figures released by the Minister for Education, Andrew Barr, showing that enrolments in government high schools have increased.

SOS Canberra spokesperson, Trevor Cobbold, said that the increase more likely reflects parent uncertainty about the future of many schools under the Towards 2020 plan.

“Many parents may be protecting their options by multiple enrolments at different high schools, given the uncertain future of many schools. The Towards 2020 Plan has created much uncertainty for parents about what school their children will be able to attend in the next three years.

“Two high schools have been proposed for closure over the next three years and several could be re-structured to operate as Year 6 – 10, 5 – 8 or 7 – 12 schools. At present, parents do not know which schools will be closed and which will be re-structured. The logical thing to do in this situation is for parents to enrol in several schools to make sure they can secure a place for their child.

“The proposal to re-structure Stromlo high school into a 6 – 10 school from next year also means that more parents than normal will be trying to enrol their children in the school. Parents of children in Year 5 in Weston Creek will be trying to secure a place at Stromlo as well as those who have children in Year 6.

“Thus, increased enrolments in high school may in part reflect decisions that have been brought forward. Parents who would normally enrol their children in a high school in a year’s time are now being forced to enrol now in Weston Creek.

Mr. Cobbold said that a close analysis needs of the figures to be done before it can be concluded that the pattern of enrolment decline has been reversed.

“It appears to be another set of shonky figures by a Minister under pressure to justify a fundamentally flawed school plan.

“However, if they are correct they undermine the Government’s rationale for the Towards 2020 Plan. Part of the Government’s case is based on declining enrolments. If this pattern has now been reversed there is no need to close schools or create a ‘hodge-podge’ of new school structures.”

Contact: Trevor Cobbold 0410 121 640 (mobile)

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