Statement on Walgett Community College
For over 18 months I have consistently raised with the Minister for Education my concerns regarding Walgett Community College. I have expressed in strong terms the need for the Minister to act, not for political gain but to ensure that kids in Walgett have access to a well-resourced, safe and stable school environment.
In recent days we have seen teachers walk out of the school in protest citing dire, ongoing staffing issues. Only 7 out of 22 teaching positions are currently working at the school, 11 roles are open for recruitment with the balance possibly on long term leave, with at least one teacher on leave due to a violent incident. The recruitment of the 11 teachers only started after the commencement of the first term.
In addition the Principal has left the school without any communication with the Walgett community, parents or kids.
The issues around schooling in Walgett has now reached a crisis point. I have avoided publicly talking about this issue as I know the effect media attention has had on the mental health and wellbeing of the Walgett community. I feel for the children who attend Walgett Community College and I fear the impact that negative stories will have on them. Negative publicity has the potential to lower the self-esteem of these kids. The situation at Walgett is close to being a downward spiral.
Walgett is a strong community with a weak education system, it’s time for leadership and hard decisions.
I have attempted to work constructively on the issues that have been raised with me regarding the Walgett Community College. I have done this in private with parents, concerned residents and the Minister for Education because I truly want a long term stable future for this school.
I have done this because the Walgett community deserves better than the current circumstances. The kids of Walgett deserve better.
Yesterday I asked the Minister for Education to immediately commence an investigation into the Walgett Community College, how it is being managed and the assistance that is being provided by the Department of Education. I have asked that the Minister provide a full briefing to myself and the community of Walgett.
The solutions will be both short and long term out of necessity. Parents need to know that now there children will receive the opportunities offered by education, catch-up is the worst solution for children missing opportunities.
A way forward must be developed in conjunction with the community. There needs to be a new plan for the Walgett Community College and that plan needs to be enacted immediately for the sake of these kids.
Statement from The Hon. Mark Banasiak MLC
As a former school teacher who has spent my entire career in challenging schools I am prepared work with the Minister on solutions for the Walgett Community College. The Minister just needs to drop the politics and the secrecy and accept my help.
I know the structures, the programs and initiatives that should be in place to improve Walgett because I have designed and successfully implemented them in other schools.
Based on the information that has been given to me there should have been an attendance plan in place for this school. The attendance has dropped so low one should have been triggered. The Department seemingly failed to act in this regard. The have also failed to recognise the unique nature of Walgett Community College and the needs of the kids that attend that school and put in place individual learning plans.
Also the Principal should’ve be able to draw in multiple government agencies including health, mental health, justice, and family services to assist and to provide a wraparound service for the school and the wider community. From where I’m standing the previous Principals have not been given the support to do this. That leadership must come from the top and the Education Minister should have been driving it. She was asleep at the wheel and so was her Secretary of Education Mark Scott.
I’ve spoken to many families and groups in Walgett who are concerned about the future of the school. I have a planned trip to Walgett with Roy Butler in March. The Minister and Mark Scott should get in their cars and join me on that trip.