28 March 2022

Same suburb, same postcode, different schools: Jerrabomberra heights students pushed out in re-zoning

| Max O'Driscoll
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John Barilaro talking to students at Jerrabomberra

Former member for Monaro John Barilaro talks to potential students of a new high school in Jerrabomberra when the project was announced in 2018. Photo: Supplied.

A recent NSW Department of Education zone reshuffling means pre-primary aged children north of the Edwin Land Parkway can no longer enrol at Jerrambomberra Public School and no children in this location will be able to enrol at Jerrambomberra High School when it opens in 2023.

In the area known as “the heights and north terrace”, families are now encouraged to look towards Queanbeyan for alternative schooling options. The news has dismayed impacted residents, some of whom purchased homes in the area believing their children would be able to access the schools.

Long-time Jerrabomberra Public School principal Chris Hunter delivered the message that “analysis of relevant demographic data” led to intake adjustments for many schools in the area, pointing to the recent new developments in Googong as a reason for the reshuffling.

“Adjustments to some school intake areas are necessary to ensure the best placement of our students and families to continue to provide the best education we can,” Ms Hunter said.

Queanbeyan-Palerang councillor Bryce Wilson took the news as confirmation that the high school will be built for 500 students, despite the primary school having nearly double the number of students and that there will be no “second phase” of construction at the high school in the near future.

READ ALSO Strike at Queanbeyan and Karabar schools a ‘very disappointing’ disruption says Education Minister

“All of our community welcomed the new high school in Jerrabomberra, today’s announcement does the opposite and cuts our established community in half,” he said.

“This news comes as a shock to all in Jerrabomberra, but especially to the half of Jerrabomberra who’ve learned their home is not only out of zone for the new high school but also now out of zone for the established and reputable primary school, too.

“Families in Jerrabomberra that live only a kilometre or two from the school that made significant life decisions based on those existing enrolment zones are angered by the decision. Without any consultation your government has taken those plans and aspirations away.

“This news is being met with disbelief and frustration. I urge your government to work with the community on future plans that work for all of Jerrabomberra. We must see the decision reversed or paused and plans for phase two of the high school immediately released.”

A Jerrabomberra Heights resident who chose not to be identified has one child at primary school and two at the pre-primary level.

“We’re in a fairly unique situation with one of our kids already at the primary school. Looking forward for him, obviously he’d be separated from his friends when they progress through to high school in Jerrabomberra,” the resident said.

“We’ve got two other kids and it’s the same thing for them. They attend early childcare services right next to the school.

“All of the infrastructure in Jerrabomberra is geared towards children being able to ride and walk to school and all of those services have been co-located.”

President of the Jerrabomberra Residents’ Association Margot Sachse was once pictured in the newspaper holding her then 18-month-old child, pleading for a school in Jerrabomberra. With that child now in year 12, she said the news that many families will now miss out on the school has left the community “reeling”.

“I can only assume that someone in Sydney has just drawn a few lines on a map and thought that they all work together but it doesn’t work like that,” she said.

“We are in a community. We’re under a unique postcode to the rest of Queanbeyan … It just defies logic.”

Member for Monaro Nichole Overall said that any changes to intake should have included community consultation.

“While I understand the need to reduce the reliance on demountables, particularly at JPS, and re-balance enrolments across local schools, parents and the community must be engaged in meaningful consultation,” Ms Overall said.

“I have requested the Department review the intake areas again and provide parents with options – noting that one outcome may result in additional demountables being required at the school.”

In other Jerrabomberra High School news, Scott O’Hara was recently unveiled as the school’s inaugural principal.

Original Article published by Max O’Driscoll on Riotact.

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