Capital divide grows between local public and private secondary schools

By Ashlea Witoslawski

Capital expenditure discrepancies across the region’s secondary colleges have been highlighted recently in data collated by ABC News.

According to the data, Shepparton High School, Wanganui Park Secondary College, McGuire College and Mooroopna Secondary College spent a combine total of $2 544 607 on capital expenses between 2015 and 2017.

This figure is 41.3 per cent of the amount spent at Goulburn Valley Grammar School ($6 165 435) and only 17.4 per cent of Notre Dame College’s $14 653 919 expenditure. The statistics, compiled from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority’s My School websites, shares the school finance data and enrolment trends.

Statistics showed enrolments decreased at all schools between 2013 and  2018, excluding McGuire College, which grew 24 per cent with a total of 594 students, and Goulburn Valley Grammar School, which increased by three per cent to 694 students.

Shepparton High School saw the largest decrease in enrolments (38 per cent), followed by Mooroopna Secondary College (36 per cent), Wanganui Park Secondary College (eight per cent) and Notre Dame College (one per cent).

Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell said public school infrastructure has ‘‘officially been in need of an injection of funding for quite some time’’.

‘‘We all welcome any investment in facilitates at public high schools in Shepparton,’’ she said.

However, Ms Lovell believed an investment in capital was not as important for local schools as what was learnt inside the classroom walls.

‘‘What goes on in the classroom is much more important than the classrooms themselves,’’ she said.

She also said it was interesting to see the enrolment numbers had not grown substantially at Goulburn Valley Grammar School or Notre Dame College in recent years.

‘‘It certainly shows me that people have not deserted the public education system, but we may be seeing a decline in the school-aged population in Shepparton.’’

Victorian Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed said it was important to address the current discrepancies in local education, particularly within the state education system.

‘We cannot allow our young people in the state education system to continue to be disadvantaged,’’ Ms Sheed said.

‘‘There appears to be a view among some in the community that the status quo is acceptable.’’

Ms Sheed said this was evidence that now was the time to transform education in the region. ‘‘We now have the opportunity to transform the curriculum and the skills and opportunities of our teachers that will deliver the outcomes that we expect for all our children,’’ she said.

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