The proposed reforms to Shepparton’s secondary education present the single biggest change to our school system in our city’s history.
Understandably, parents, students and many teachers are apprehensive about how the Shepparton Education Plan will work in real terms.
Transport, new uniforms, subject choice, administration, facilities, friendship groups, bullying policies, class sizes and the sheer size of the new school are just some of the issues that are worrying parents.
So it is welcome that those steering the new plan are setting up information sessions for concerned people to attend.
Whether these information sessions will allay community fears is yet to be seen.
The merging of four schools, each with their own unique history and demographics was never going to be easy.
However, we believe something had to be done to break the cycle of imbalance in retention rates and academic performance at the four state schools.
The answer — to create a single large ‘‘super school’’ — is now being seen by some as a decision fraught with problems.
Executives driving the Shepparton Education Plan dislike the tag ‘‘super school’’ but that is the term used by many parents who are now facing the changes to come next year.
In the past fortnight a Facebook page has been created for disgruntled parents and others to air their concerns about the proposed changes.
The page has already attracted nearly 1600 followers and a petition to ‘‘Stop Shepparton’s Superschool’’ is now being placed in businesses and other locations around the city.
While social media is not the best place for reasoned or informed debate, it is a measure of how many people are concerned about the changes to our education system.
This social media-driven opposition may not be representative of the majority of parents, but it is an organised group with genuine fears for their children.
These fears need to be addressed carefully and respectfully by those proposing change, and information sessions are a good start.
Those in charge of the changes have so far been slow to respond to questions about details.
Details are what concern parents with multiple children, or those with children who have special needs, or who are on low incomes.
The big picture has been known for some time; now it is time to explain the smaller pictures.
The Shepparton education journey has a long way to go, and we believe it is a necessary one — but it must be driven with genuine information, communication, concern and compassion at every turn.