50,000 Students On The Move

50,000 Students On The Move

Queensland Shadow Minister for Education and Training Bruce Flegg

Too Many Problems For A Quick Change To Year 7

Victor P Taffa

The Bligh Labor Government must abandon any plans for an overnight, across the board shift of Year 7 from Primary School to High School, the Liberal National Party said today.

Shadow Minister for Education and Training Dr. Bruce Flegg said moving all Year 7 Students to High School in 2014 or even 2015 would put schools at risk of overcrowding, under resourcing and inadequate teacher numbers.

“More than 50,000 Students and some 1,800 Year 7 Teachers will be affected by this move.” Dr. Flegg said.

“While the move in inevitable if the National Curriculum is to be meaningful, this is not something that should be rushed.” Dr. Flegg said.

 

“There are a number of areas of difficulty that must be addressed before the move is made, and I can’t see how this Government can solve these problems before the 2014 deadline.”

“We will need more infrastructure and teachers in high schools, while primary school teachers face redundancies or retraining as demand drops in their schools.” Dr. Flegg said.

“Some Primary Schools will see a decrease in teacher-aide support, while some small schools will face closures for not attracting enough students.”

“Finally, despite the introduction of prep, Queensland students are still younger than their interstate counterparts meaning an additional year of boarding school and younger students in high schools are very real concerns for parents.”

Dr. Flegg said while some schools, in particular independent and Catholic schools, would be ready to make the move, many state schools would struggle with the 2014 deadlines.

“I think an overnight change is too much too fast, with a five year changeover much more realistic.” Dr. Flegg said.

“The Government’s dithering over this issue has only exacerbated these planning, budget and infrastructure issues — we need a realistic action plan announced and followed if this move is to result in better education for Queensland students.” Dr. Flegg said.

Key Issues:

  • The move would result in a 20 % increase in enrolments, resulting in overcrowding of existing facilities. New buildings and a number of new high schools would be required to cater for the additional demand;
  • A shift of Year 7 to high school would mean that some 1,800 Year 7 teachers would need to be retrained, redeployed or made redundant while high schools would struggle to find enough teachers in specialist areas like maths, science and foreign languages;
  • Queensland students are still half a year younger than students in other eastern States despite the introduction of Prep year;
  • Families who live in remote areas face an additional year of boarding school costs, if their children are to attend high schools;
  • The drop in enrolments in primary schools will result in the loss of teacher aide hours and possibly the loss of teachers, while some small schools may be closed down;
  • The Bligh Labor Government’s intent to fund the move with $300 Million from the existing Budget Estimates shows how out of touch they are with their own education system.

The move would cost five times that amount without dealing with the significant shortage of trained high school teachers.