Shepparton Students may be forced to stay in transition longer
Department of Education Ministerial briefing documents released under Freedom of Information shows that a Tech School/STEM centre of excellence promised for inclusion in the construction of the new Greater Shepparton Secondary College has been cut from the project and will now need to be considered in future stages of the Shepparton Education Plan and future State Budget processes.
The Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell obtained several ministerial briefing documents which show the inclusion of a Tech School/STEM centre was a major component of the one school, one site model presented to the Shepparton community during the consultation stage (BRE005416) [i]. A Tech School/STEM centre was also part of the project when the one school, one site model was agreed to by the school councils of the four former secondary schools.
The inclusion of a Tech School/STEM centre was one of the key findings of the Shepparton Education Plan Phase Two Community Engagement Report [ii] and together with new facilities and greater subject choice it was the number one theme amongst comments in response to questions about the perceived benefits of a one school campus [iii].
A subsequent ministerial brief released to Ms Lovell shows that the Tech School/STEM centre will now not be built during initial construction of the new school and will only be considered “as part of future stages of the Shepparton Education Plan and State Budget processes.” (BRE007473)[iv]
The scrapping of the proposed Tech School/STEM centre shows that the Andrews Labor Government are cutting corners and doing this project on the cheap, raising serious concerns that the full $120 million needed to build the school will not be delivered.
The community expected the new Secondary College to be built as a single build not a staged development that may take many years like other staged projects – some which commenced over a decade ago – that are still waiting to be completed, including; the Warracknabeal Education Precinct [v], the Wodonga Secondary College [vi] and Benalla P-12 [vii].
The transition phase will be a difficult and challenging time for students and now that it has commenced it is vital that the School is completed as soon as possible. The one thing that must not happen is for the transition phase to drag on and on for years and years which will further disadvantage Shepparton students.
The Shepparton community should not be short changed just because Labor can’t manage money. The Treasurer Tim Pallas is madly trying to cut $4 billion from the budget but the Greater Shepparton Secondary School funding is vital and should not be subject to Labor’s knife.
Comments attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell:
“The Shepparton community were promised that our students would have the very best facilities at this new school, including a Tech School/STEM centre but instead James Merlino and Labor are now trying to short change our community by cutting the Tech School/STEM centre from the school.
“James Merlino and Suzanna Sheed have misled Shepparton families by promising a Tech School/STEM centre and then scrapping it once they achieved their preferred objective of a single school model.
“The dumping of the Tech School/STEM centre reinforces my concern that the State Labor Government has run out of money and will not deliver the $120 million needed to build the high-quality school that our students were promised.”
Media Contact: Jason Kelly 0413 103 240 email@example.com
[i] BRE005416 Point 4 – Options 3 and 4 also include the provision of a Trade Training Centre (trade skill emphasis), a Tech School (STEM emphasis) and an integrated children’s centre to be located in Mooroopna (PAGE 7 OF 104).
This was also repeated in the Shepparton Education Plan Phase Two Community Engagement Report 2.1 Option 3 AND 4: A NEW SECONDARY SCHOOL These two options feature – Dot point three a new Tech School (Page 25 of 104).
[ii] Shepparton Education Plan Phase Two Community Engagement Report 4.1 KEY FINDINGS OVERVIEW – Dot point 9 The Tech School and Trade Skills Centre are considered integral (page 33 of 104).
[iii] Shepparton Education Plan Phase Two Community Engagement Report 4.6 The top five themes in relation to Option 3 are – Point 1 (page 45 of 104).
[iv] BRE007473 Page 13 Issue – Will there be a Tech School? Response acknowledges – ‘A Tech School was proposed as part of community consultation’. Then goes on to say – ‘Any proposed Tech School will be considered as part of future stages of the Shepparton Education Plan and State Budget processes’. (page 16 0f 27)
STAGED PROJECTS STILL NOT COMPLETED
[v] Warracknabeal – The Warracknabeal Education Precinct co-locates the Primary, Secondary and Special Developmental School on one site (the Primary School site). In 2016-17 the project received $6m which built half the Secondary School and one-third of the Special Developmental School. As no further funding (not even as an election commitment) has been committed by the Labor Government, four years have now passed and the Secondary School has been unable to re-locate and their brand-new Science Labs are being used as a pantry and storage room. In addition, the Special Development School has had to cut many of its programs due to space restrictions.
[vi] Wodonga – In 2005 the former Bracks Government made the decision to merge three separate secondary schools – Wodonga High School, Mitchell Secondary College, and Wodonga-West Secondary College into one super school across three campuses – a senior campus and two middle years campuses and allocated $1 million for six new classrooms and ICT. In 2009 $12 million was allocated to upgrade the Felltimber Middle Years Campus and $3 million was allocated for a Year 7 centre at the Huon Middle Years Campus to commence it’s upgrade. The senior campus had to wait seven years to receive any funding at all and in the 2012-13 Budget $10 million was committed to upgrade the Senior Campus. 15 years after the decision to merge the three schools the Huon Campus is still waiting for funding to complete it’s upgrade.
[vii] Benalla P-12 – In 2009 a decision was made to merge four schools (3 Primary and 1 Secondary) into one P-12 School. In 2011 $5 million was committed to commence Stage 1. In 2014 an election commitment for a further $15 million was committed by the Coalition but unfortunately it was not matched by Labor. Following the election, the school had to wait until 2016 but only received $3.5 million from Labor for the remainder of Stage 1. In 2018 both parties committed additional funding for Stage 2 and in the 2019-20 budget $12 million was allocated to provide two new buildings a STEAM centre and a Years 5 and 6 Hub which is not expected to be completed until 2023. Stage 2 has now been broken down into at least three parts – Stage 2A is the STEAM Centre, Stage 2B is the Years 5 and 6 Hub and the Principal has been quoted as saying the rest of Stage 2 could take up to a decade to complete. 11 years after the project started, the School continues to wait on funding to complete Stage 2 and is still a decade away from seeing the project completed.