Thursday 5 March 2020
Mr WAKELING – I would like to raise a matter of importance with the Minister for Education, and the action I am seeking is for the minister to provide Knox Gardens Primary School with an additional portable classroom. School council president Mr James Washfold has again contacted me advising of the school’s urgent need for a portable classroom to house 42 of the school’s enthusiastic and energetic grade 2 students. Knox Gardens Primary School is committed to providing a high-quality learning environment for its students and is proud of their academic results, mostly achieved by the school’s current small class model. The small class model has yielded outstanding academic results, as featured in the 2018–19 education parliamentary review, and its more recent NAPLAN results being within the 95th percentile.
The school council requested an additional portable classroom back in December but were denied. It was denied by the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA) on the grounds of being a limited program and that buildings must be prioritised to schools with greatest need. Instead the school was told to abandon its proven small class model or sacrifice its library space to house its grade 2 students. I am not sure what formula the VSBA uses to determine a school’s greatest need, but I can tell you it should not be at the cost of academic achievement or sacrificing a school library. Faced with a no-win situation I commend the school for reaffirming its commitment to education by keeping its small class strategy; however, this means it is now operating without a school library, with the school books currently being locked in a room.
For all the government’s hype about Victoria becoming the Education State, how can a school be told to choose between abandoning a proven academic strategy or operating without a school library? It is ironic this has all occurred, given the fact that only in recent years the school had two portables removed from the school at significant cost. The two portables in fact had to be craned out of the school after the school was told by the education department that they were surplus to the school’s needs, despite the school identifying that there was a need for both of those portables. One has been returned but the school is wanting the additional portable to be brought back into the school.
So on behalf of the families of Knox Gardens Primary School I ask the Minister for Education to take action and ensure that the needs of the school community are met by the provision of an additional portable for the school.