Premier Colin Barnett says Fremantle is over-serviced by high schools, putting South Fremantle SHS, Hamilton SHS or even Melville SHS in the frame for closure.
No-one knows for sure what is likely to happen because after making the claim, the premier refused to elaborate.
John Curtin College of the Arts is safe because it is full-to-bursting and home to a range of academic, sports and music extension courses.
But South Freo—sitting on vast landholdings worth hundreds of millions of dollars if sold for housing—has been chronically under-populated for years. Hamilton is also understood to be carrying far fewer students than it is capable of. Herald attempts to get a comment from the South Freo and Hamilton school communities proved fruitless, with no-one from the schools nor the P&Cs prepared to talk.
Traci Gamblin, the convenor of the High School Options for Freo group, says parents have been left in the dark about the premier’s intentions.
“Basically we have no idea what’s going on,” she says. “Our fundamental goal is for Freo high schools to meet high quality academic standards—that’s what we want decision-makers to focus on. I can’t say if its good or bad, because we don’t know what’s been planned.”
Fremantle state Labor MP Simone McGurk says the premier must come clean with his plans.
“During the election campaign a large public meeting was held about high school options in Fremantle—why was there no announcement there?” she asks.
“If the premier and the education minister plan to amalgamate Fremantle high schools they must come here and come clean to local parents and the schools themselves about their plans.
“I call on them both to have the decency to come to Fremantle and attend a public meeting.”
Federal Fremantle Labor MP Melissa Parke describes as “shocking” the WA Liberal government’s post-election education cuts to education: “How are parents meant to make important decisions about their children’s education when the premier is saying that some Fremantle schools will likely close?”
She notes the federal government has poured millions of dollars into South Fremantle SHS, including a maritime trade training centre which she is set to open next week. Nearly $2m was spent on four new science labs at Hamilton SHS.
“We need to see more resources going into these Fremantle schools rather than threats of closures.”
by BRENDAN FOSTER