Students lead the way at rally

TEACHERS and parents joined together in a united show of opposition for a rally through the main street of Gloucester last Thursday to oppose proposed changes to the way their schools are run.

More than 50 students from schools across the Mid North Coast held placards and chanted the slogan ‘Save Our Schools’ as they marched from one end of Church St to the other.

The schools they represented included Barrington, Bobin, Stroud, Stroud Road, Booral, Stratford, Elands, Bungwahl, Gloucester and Krambach. Behind them marched a similar number of parents and supporters, equally angry that the future of the schools their children attend could be under threat.

Afterwards they gathered around the stage in Billabong Park and heard from parents, students and mayor John Rosenbaum about the important role small schools play in communities and the impact plans to change the way they are administered would have in those centres.

“Barrington Public has been my home away from home,” school captain Emma Ward said.

“At my school the students are encouraged to have a go and because it’s a small school everyone gets a go.”

Her fellow school captain Hamish McClure said it was difficult to understand why the State government had proposed to implement changes that would impact both the leadership and autonomy of small schools.

“The many special things about our school can not be measured in a report to a government department,” he said.

Gwyn Orr from Bobin Public west of Port Macquarie said she was astounded 96 per cent of public school teachers had voted to support legislation that would impact the way small schools operated.

She said the State government had been ‘sneaky’ in including the legislation in the latest pay negotiations for public school teachers.

“The majority of teachers are from big schools. Unless you’ve been to a small school you have no idea what it’s like,” she said.

“We’re a part of the community and the heart of the community. The community needs us.”

Krambach Public P and C president Audrey Morrison said her school could be one of the first to suffer if the new proposals are implemented.

“In 2015 our principal is retiring. We could be one of the first schools affected,” she said.

“This has been pushed through by the State government under the guise of a pay rise for teachers.

“They’ve made it impossible for teachers to have a say or support our cause.”

The parents of Barrington Public have vowed to continue to fight the proposals with further action planned in the New Year.

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