Going back to school

By Liz Mellino

Parents, students, teachers and local members of parliament gathered at Shepparton High School on Thursday evening for a Shepparton Education Plan community workshop.

Close to 50 people came to air their concerns and share their support for the single secondary school model planned for Shepparton.

The workshop was the second held for the day, with another held earlier in Mooroopna.

The initiative is based around the One School, One Campus model which will see Shepparton High School become the site of a new secondary school housing its students and those from McGuire College, Wanganui Park Secondary College and Mooroopna Secondary College.

Thursday’s workshops, run by the Department of Education and Training, involved a presentation from the department about the current status of the Education Plan and a presentation from the architects who are working to design the new campus.

Participants then shared questions with the speakers, addressing three key areas: hopes for the school, sharing of facilities, and the wellbeing of students.

Department of Education and Training area director Cord Sadler addressed the group, updating participants on the new school, how it will work and where the department is currently at with the planning process.

Mr Sadler said the department had been consulting with the community at each phase of the process to gather feedback.

He stressed the benefits of a single school model for the region, saying the idea was the most suitable option after studying the current secondary education system.

‘‘Coming together into a single school on a single site gives us the opportunity to provide the best teachers for kids,’ Mr Sadler said.

‘‘It’s not competition, it becomes collaboration, we work with each other to ensure kids get the best outcomes.’’

The secondary school will be home to about 2700 students, configured around a series of learning centres or ‘houses’, each made up of 300 students from years 7 to 12.

Mr Sadler said the large campus would provide the opportunity to offer students the broadest range of subjects, with plans to offer 55 VCE subjects out of the 90 available.

‘‘This new model will allow for better engagement with children at earlier phases of secondary schooling,’’ he said.

‘‘The focus has been putting students at the centre and considering their best interests.’’

While many community members shared their excitement about the Education Plan, others voiced worries about the proposed number of students and the impact this will have on their individual learning outcomes.

Shepparton resident Karl Symes stressed his concerns, saying he was disappointed in the lack of explanation and background information he and other parents had received up to this point.

‘‘I think they should have explained it a little bit more before it got this far,’’ he said.

‘‘I have two children, one currently at Wanganui and one that will go in two years time, and we haven’t heard very much about it at all.

‘‘I don’t think you should put 2800 kids in one school, I think it is a concern.’’