Regional and rural students are being hit hard once again by politics, with numerous residential and school camp facilities due to close over the next 12 months.
In a statement released yesterday, Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery announced changes that would see an estimated $64 million saved across the forward estimates.
Amongst other changes, Moora and Northam residential accommodation will close along with six camp schools run by the Department of Education. Schools of the Air (SOTA) will also close their doors, with the School of Isolated Distance Education to take over education services delivered by SOTA. Further, funding will cease for Landsdale Farm School, a welcoming educational and rural environment for people with disabilities.
WAFarmers Senior Vice President Lyn Slade said it was the latest in a series of issues facing WA’s rural education system.
“We have already had the Boarding Away from Home Allowance cut which will see boarding school fees incrementally increase over the next four years, followed by the uncertain future of the state’s agricultural curriculum,” she said.
“Add on top of this the impending closure of a number of facilities important to the educational journey of regional and rural students, including six of the seven dedicated school camps run by the Department of Education, and it could be said that agricultural education in WA is being cheated.
“We understand the need to reduce duplication of services, however the removal of five independent schools in the regions in favour of one overarching online-learning hub in Leederville is not the way to do it as students will lose valuable face-to-face interactions with their teachers.
“Clearly, these changes may have devastating for regional and rural families which rely on the existing residential accommodation and camp school options.
“How are we meant to keep children in the regions when services of this nature are being cut left, right and centre?
“We also question the timing of these cuts, given the announcement earlier this week that a new $68 million inner city college will be built in Subiaco – this can’t be mere coincidence?”
Mrs Slade said the lack of consultation between the government and groups advocating for rural families and education was extremely disappointing.
“This decision demonstrates utter disrespect for regional, rural and remote education, and for the students and their families who rely on these facilities and deserve fair access to education.”
All media requests must be directed to WAFarmers Media and Communications Officer Melanie Dunn on (08) 9486 2100 or [email protected].