Tuesday June 27, 2017

March In March, the Benevolent Revolution

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‘Do not erase’, Bella from Yr 6 at Old Yarranlea State School  

The Newman Government has scored a big 'F' in the consultation process on Queensland school closures and part sell-off.


One of the Newman Government's school closure consultants, Jan Taylor has walked out on a  community meeting with Old Yarranlea State School.

Ms Taylor told the packed meeting that she had to go as, '2 hours is her limit'.

The audience was also less than pleased with Ms Taylor's departure and voiced their concerns.

Ms Taylor explained that she had allocated 2 hours and that was 'quite enough'.  Audience members challenged her on being very well paid but she denied receiving an income from the consultative process.

Other sources told Greenshack she has been repeatedly tardy in all previous meeting attendances.

The Newman Government's Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek employed Ms Taylor from JTAA to oversee the six month consultative process which is required under the Queensland Education Act before a school is closed. 

This week a budget estimates committee heard that to date JTAA had been paid $56,165 for this consultancy work.

Old Yarranlea State School is an unique school which offers high intensity teacher to student learning. It has an 18 student level cap.

The 1888 heritage listed building was originally constructed on the Darling Downs 140 years ago by the Yarranlea farming community and was was moved to Brisbane's Griffith University grounds in 1987.

Situated on the grounds of Griffith University, it is also a teacher training school. Griffith University lecturer, Dr Geoffrey Orr, saw the potential to use the facility as a training ground for Griffith trained student teachers.

Dr Orr's son, Derek is the current P&C President and his own son, Henry, has just begun prep.
  Fighting to save Queensland’s Old Yarranlea State School.

A defiant Dr Orr described the school as unique.

"No other university in the world has a one teacher school on its campus," he said.

"Our school is an established, proven education innovation, who’s ideologies align with current State and Federal Government initiatives like Great Teachers = Great Results, The Small Schools Leadership Program and the Action Plan For Rural and Regional Queensland."

"The whole government process is another form of bullying – isn’t the Government against all forms of bullying?"

"No one was asked if the school should close, just told."

Dr Orr went on to explain the long established arrangements between Education Queensland and Griffith University.

"There is an agreement between Education Queensland and the University, stating that the school cannot be closed unless both parties agree.  Both parties do not agree."

P&C President, Derek Orr remains confident that the school will remain open.

"We’ve managed to work our per head cost below state average," Mr Orr explained.

"We’ve shot holes in the viability assessment criteria and maintain we shouldn’t be on the list."

Mr Orr described the consultation process as an one of 'intimidation tactics and large consulting bills'.

"Minister Langbroek has refused to attend any of our consultation meetings and won’t meet with P&C."

"He tells us 'some schools will close' before the submission deadline, confirming that the consultation process is indeed a farce."

The meeting for Old Yarranlea was attended by past and present students and their families who were unanimously 'appalled' at the prospect of the school's closure.

Federal LNP MP for Bonner, Ross Vasta declined the invitation to the meeting and gave his apologies.

Bonner candidates, Labor's Laura Fraser Hardy and Greens candidate David Nelson were in attendance.

Also in attendance was LNP State MP for Mansfield and Minister for Science, Information Technology, Innovation and the Arts, Ian Walker.

However, Mr Walker refused the offer to sign a pledge to fight for the school to remain open.

"Ian heard all the fantastic evidence last night, our most powerful speakers - the kids. They were so good," a parent told Greenshack.

At the end of the meeting, a parent from Mr Walker's electorate asked him to sign a pledge to promise to fight to save the school.

"Absolutely not," was his swift response.

"I will wait for evidence to be submitted and I will make my decision then."

Despite the consultation process so far, parent Ms Leauarne Adams is not sure why, out of the 55 schools on the Education Department's viability list, theirs has been flagged for possible closure.

"From the beginning we've been told broad criteria for 55 schools to be listed, but never why the 8 selected were special enough or severe enough to seek closure. Major flaw in the process. You can't fight what you can't see. Perhaps not a flaw from the perspective of the LNP," she explained.

"We were first told by local member Ian Walker it was all about the dollars - 'get cheaper'. We undertook major work to tackle school funding models, budgets etc. We now know the proposal to raise our cap, approved by Griffith will place OYSS under state average cost. Given we are so small, and also work with Griffith for small school education training and research - that's a bargain!"
Saving Toowoomba South State School  
To Brisbane's far west, up on the Toowoomba range, the consultation process has not been much better.

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek had repeatedly called for a 'calm mature debate' with the school closure process and described any form of rally as 'union led hysterics'.

However, he has maintained an arms length response to requests for meetings or responses to letters. Staff from his office continually referred concerned parents and carers back to the external consultant, JTAA.

The process has been largely clerical. P&C members have had to supply their own resources and spend their own time filling out layers of forms.  The consultative component has been largely non-existent; mostly directions from JTAA on how to complete paperwork.

Toowoomba South State School P&C President, Mrs Caroline Bennett, told Greenshack, "P&C funds cannot be used for any form of media attention, advertising or campaign requirements so there again the inequity of funds."

"The P&C’s are doing the consulting and gathering of key information and data, forwarding this to JTAA who merely have to collate and represent this in the form of a report."

Mrs Bennet also told Greenshack that this was exhausting for her, a single carer with a special needs child and only P&C member able to participate in online media campaigns.

"The other members either don't have the resources or don't have the knowledge required to set up and maintain things such as facebook, twitter and a new website so they are going around the community with petitions (hard copy). I'm the one who set up, manages and maintains constant interest on these media sites, which is exhausting."

Mr Langbroek later stated that no form of media coverage would influence his decision, only the submissions through JTAA.

Schools first heard about the proposed closures from the media.  A press release was issued late on Friday 3rd May, 2013.

From there it became a red tape nightmare as parents and citizen groups scrambled to lodge the required forms to prove the school's viability.

This was made even more challenging when Mr Langbroek decided to move the due date forward by two weeks. His announcement came in the afternoon of the last Friday of school term as children were departing for for school holidays.

He told the media his justification was because parents wanted a resolution sooner rather than later.

However, it wasn't what they wanted at all. They wanted assurance that their children would be able to attend their schools next year.  It was an assurance he refused to give.

Mrs Bennet is not impressed with the process and has forwarded a list of eight queries to the Minister and the consultant. Among these she has asked who will be presenting the final recommendation to the minister.

Please advise who will do the recommendations for the minister on which schools will be closed.  If it is an external party to the Department, who they are, what their date of engagement or notification was, whether they were engaged through a tender process, a standing offer arrangement or please specify what other approach was used.  If standing offer please advice the date were admitted to the standing offer register.

So far, all eight queries remain unanswered.

 Premier Campbell Newman tells the party faithfull he is saving money through school viability. Melinda Howells, ABC News Qld   Both Mrs Bennett and Ms Adams joined other parents and teachers from other schools last Sunday to protest outside the Queensland LNP annual convention.

Inside, Premier Campbell Newman told the audience his cutbacks were all about money.

"When you hear the unions carry on, just remember, we're trying to save you money and take the pressure of your family budget," he informed the audience.

Mr Langbroek told the media, "Union led hysteria is not going to make any difference to our deliberations."

It was a line he'd used many times before.  However, what exactly would be used in his deliberations was still unclear to the P&C. Why their schools had been targeted was also a mystery.  There were very few answers from JTAA.

Mrs Bennett has written to Mr Langbroek asking for an apology on his dismissive claims of 'union led hysteria'.

At budget estimates this week, Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk queried Director-general Jim Watterston on allegations of bullying and intimidation that had been directed by Education Queensland staff toward the Toowoomba SS P&C President.

Mr Watterston told the committee that allegations would be investigated.

Final submissions by all P&Cs are due July 26th. An announcement on the school closures is expected in August.

Education Queensland bullied P&C to end save our school campaign 

'Old Yarranlea school still facing closure'

Education Department's Jim Watterston to investigate claims a P&C president was intimidated over protest of sale of Toowoomba South State School

'Education Department's Jim Watterston to investigate claims a P&C president was intimidated over protest of sale of Toowoomba South State School'

Education Queensland bullied P&C to end save our school campaign

'Education Queensland bullied P&C to end save our school campaign'

Education Qld staff 'bullied' P and C president, Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk says

'Education Qld staff 'bullied' P and C president, Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk says'



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Qld School Closures

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