School closure hits home

Quambatook Primary School closes its gates after 138 years of educating the community.

Quambatook Primary School closes its gates after 138 years of educating the community.

A public stoush by Quambatook community members erupted on social media after what they viewed as poor treatment by the Department of Education and Training (DET) causing debate about the transparency and honesty of the government department.

Quambatook community was reeling after the closure of it's school with some members claiming the Education Department acted unfairly and underhandedly.

But the department has responded by disputing the allegations and claiming the school council was given all options before ultimately making the decision to close.

The school had been seeking a replacement acting principal with no success, and as a result, families were advised on February 23 to decide on other local schools to send their children to.

Financial aid was offered to ensure the children and families could make a smooth transition. 

Quambatook school council president and parent Briony Baker said she felt more could have been done to save the school.

"We felt the Education Department were quick to offer financial aid to transition our students and the bar was raised for the eligible criteria of a suitable principal," she said.

"Council was told not to speak about the school's plight within the community as it would reflect poorly on the school and town.

"We were advised to make alternative school enquiries which we did.

"Once the students were placed in other schools we were then told the school would be closed."

This sent other community members into a tailspin upon hearing the news.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education and Training said they tried to do all they could to keep schools open where they were viable.

"In this instance, declining enrolments and difficulty attracting staff have led to the school council deciding it is best for the students to attend other schools," the spokesperson said.

"The department does understand that this is a disappointment for some in the community but enrolments at the school have been in decline in recent years and had fallen to six at the start of this year.

To read more about this story, grab a copy of Friday Guardian (March 17).

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