Education Minister James Merlino has a secret plan to exclude some Shepparton students from access to new facilities and broader subject choices at the new Greater Shepparton Secondary College – Hawdon St site – by establishing an annex of the school in a rural location 30 minutes north of Shepparton.
The site of the rural annex is rumoured to be the old Invergordon Primary School 30 minutes north of Shepparton and more than 45 minutes travelling time for students from Tatura.
Rumours of a plan to establish a dumping ground for up to 90 of the schools most problematic students have been circulating for some months now and a recent leaked ‘Staff Communique’ has confirmed this plan.
The Government hailed the single school model as a vision to transform education and lift educational outcomes in Greater Shepparton but establishment of the rural annex for disadvantaged and challenging students is evidence that the one school plan is already unravelling and a sign that it was never right for Shepparton.
Disadvantaged students need an inclusive environment that inspires them to learn and be part of the broader school community they do not deserve to be excluded from access to facilities and opportunities. Concentrating disadvantaged students in one location will only produce negative outcomes for these students and our community.
Greater Shepparton prides itself on its diversity and as a community has worked hard to develop a proud tradition of inclusivity. Now the State Education Minister wants to throw all that hard work out the window by excluding some students from opportunities available to other students.
Closing four schools and mixing the students and cultures of the four schools into one student body was always going to be challenging. But instead of doing the hard work to reassure students and establish a new culture Minister Merlino wants to punish the students for not conforming as he expected.
The school has only been operating for one term yet in an admission of failure the Minister has already thrown his hands in the air and decided to take the easy path of excluding those students who are in greatest need of a better education.
The Government has completely disrupted the education and lives of thousands of students to establish the one school model and these young people deserve more respect and compassion as they settle into to their new environment.