School of the Air cuts has not been thought through

Hon Alison Xamon MLC, Greens spokesperson for Education, today reiterated her call for the Minister for Education to reverse her decision to abolish the School of the Air (SOTA).

“It is clear that quite simply the groundwork has not been done to justify the announcement to close SOTA,” Ms Xamon said.

“We know that no consultation took place before the decision was announced and that as a result the decision has raised more questions than it answers.  The fact that this has occurred just before Christmas leaving families distressed is appalling.

“The Minister has given assurances that when SOTA is absorbed into the School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE) that components of the service such as pastoral care, individual visits and the school camps will continue, yet the detail of how this is going to occur has still not been determined.

“The Minister has also advised that all of the parents currently enrolled, 120 families, will receive personal visits to discuss the closure and the impacts.

“Surely this is absolutely putting the cart before the horse.  It may well be that once the consultation and due diligence has finally occurred that we may well find that the decision to close SOTA is simply not worth it, that the savings may be non-existent, or that any savings made may well not be worth any drop in standards.”

“It is not clear that SIDE, based in Perth, will be able to offer the same opportunities for students as those provided by SOTA”, said Ms Xamon.

“Each child in WA deserves access to a quality education, no matter where they live - and a vital part of education is the opportunity for social development.”

“Consultations undertaken by the Commissioner for Children and Young People across Western Australia have highlighted repeatedly that the most important things to WA children are their families and friends, and that family and friendships are significant contributors to mental health and wellbeing”.

“Cutting SOTA schools will potentially reinforce the isolation often experienced by remote families, and this would have a detrimental impact on our children’s wellbeing” said Ms Xamon.

“The Minister at the very least needs to suspend any decision until this work has been done.  But even better is to reverse the decision to close SOTA completely.”