Super school doubts

By Ashlea Witoslawski

With term three started and the 2020 school year nearing, concerns about education in Shepparton continue to plague many in the community.

Last Thursday, Department of Education and Training regional director Terry Bennett visited the region with other senior educational leaders to meet students, teachers and community members.

Mr Bennett said the group attended a number of sessions hearing aspirations and concerns, disappointed they were unable to meet with some of the merged school’s ‘‘loudest critics’’.

‘‘We planned to conclude the day with a meeting with community representatives to discuss their concerns on issues ranging from cost of uniforms to transport needs and transition plans,’’ he said.

‘‘It was disappointing that some of the loudest critics of the new school declined the invitation to attend this meeting where they could have engaged in a constructive conversation with some of the senior leaders of our education system.’’

‘‘Stop Shepparton’s New Super School’’ Facebook group founder Robyn Boschetti said she received an invitation to meet with Mr Bennett late on the Tuesday night, just two days before the visit.

‘‘He rang me at about 7.50pm and requested a meeting, but I had prior commitments that could not be rearranged,’’ she said.

Ms Boschetti said the two exchanged a few emails where she expressed her intentions of wanting to meet with more notice in the future.

She invited Mr Bennett to a meeting organised by her and other concerned parents on Thursday, August 8, but she did not receive a response.

Invitations to the meeting have also been extended to the Victorian Education Minister James Merlino, Shadow Education Minister Cindy McLeish, State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed, Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell, City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe, Greater Shepparton College executive principal Genevieve Simson and Department of Education and Training area director Cord Sadler.

Ms Boschetti said she had only received confirmations from Ms McLeish and Ms Lovell as well as a tentative confirmation from Cr O’Keeffe.

‘‘This is our opportunity to get our questions answered,’’ Ms Boschetti said.

Ms Sheed said she knew of the meeting, but would prefer to co-ordinate more meetings with the education department in the near future.

She acknowledged the concerns of families in the community.

‘‘The idea of the school was that every child leaves with a pathway to the future,’’ Ms Sheed said.

‘‘It’s about building a curriculum there for everyone.’’

Ms Sheed said people needed to understand their concerns were ‘‘on the table’’ and people were working hard to ensure all doubts are dealt with.

She said the state education system in the region had been neglected for too long.

‘‘Families long ago abandoned the state system and unless we do something about it to change it and improve it we’ll still see that flowing away and that’s not fair,’’ Ms Sheed said.

Ms Sheed said advocacy continued for funding to ensure the plan’s success in the future.

‘‘This is a flagship project for the Shepparton region. It will transform this region into the future, probably more than anything else we might do,’’ she said.

The Shepparton News will be submitting questions to the Department of Education and Training on behalf of the community, to help clear all concerns with the impending school merge. If you have any questions, send them to [email protected]