Education Week and Terara Public School
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Education Week and Terara Public School

Private Members Statements. Thank you Madam Acting Speaker. I call the Member for South Coast and Minister. Thank you Madam Acting Speaker. This week we celebrate Education Week, a time
to acknowledge the hard work of over 2,200 principals and 65,000 teachers, as well as
the 800,000 students right across New South Wales. Education Week celebrates the achievements
of so many in public education but more so acknowledges the broader work of our school
communities, who so often are essential to the success of our local public schools. Education Week is a time to remind students
that they have a voice, are valued and are cared for. It is so important we instil these values
in our children when they are at school. Investing in them is an investment in our
future and we are giving them the opportunity to shape the world. The theme this year is Every Student, Every
Voice. This is about ensuring every child in New
South Wales feels empowered to speak out about what they believe in and feels encouraged
to become an engaged global citizen. As we celebrate our schools and our school
communities during Education Week, I particularly congratulate the Terara Public School community
in my electorate. Terara Public School is a wonderful little
school on the South Coast which has been educating local students for well over 130 years. Just under 100 students attend Terara Public
School and it’s so often noted that the School Community has bee so successful in supporting
students and instilling important values and lessons in our future generations. I particularly single out Terara Public School
as they have recently been shocked and dismayed by potential changes to the operation of the
school. Some in the community even believed the school
was scheduled for closure. Let me be clear: As long as I am the member
for South Coast I will never allow the closure of Terara Public School. I do, however, express extreme disappointment
on behalf of the Terara Public School community following a recent letter they received from
the Department of Education. This news from the department was perceived
by many as a future reduction in enrolment numbers, an inability of siblings to attend
school together and even a potential closure of the school. Upon hearing the news I immediately contacted
the Minister for Education, the Hon. Sarah Mitchell, MLC—who I will be meeting
with tomorrow—as well as the southern regional director to express my concerns and those
of my community. I sincerely thank the Minister for her responsiveness
and understanding and I will continue to work with her to ensure that we listen to the school
community and that we meet the needs of a small school such as Terara Public School
now and into the future. I can confirm that the recent updates to the
policy will not affect the viability of the school. Students have always been entitled to enrol
in their local public school, with principals able to accept out-of-area enrolments if places
are available, and Terara Public School will continue to operate under this longstanding
policy. If the school has capacity, out of area applications
for siblings of current students are given priority. As they have in the past, exceptional circumstances
will also be considered when assessing out-of-area enrolment applications. The theme of Education Week is Every Student,
Every Voice, and the voices of the Terara Public School community have certainly been
heard. They have now been heard by this Parliament
and will continue to be heard. I look forward to working with the school
community, particularly the P&C, to ensure the future success of Terara Public School. It is important that we as a government listen
to the concerns and needs of our communities. Just last year 10,000 residents signed a petition
calling on the Government to provide additional educational facilities for the southern Shoalhaven. We have since purchased the former Shoalhaven
Anglican School site and work is progressing to finalise plans for its future. The New South Wales Government’s budget also
delivered funding to commence planning for a new public primary school for the Worrigee/South
Nowra region, as well as relocation of the Budawang School to the Shoalhaven Anglican
School site. Funding has also been received to clear the
maintenance backlog at all South Coast schools and we are delivering hundreds of new teachers
and support staff for our region. As the member for South Coast and a former
teacher I will continue to listen and respond to the needs of my community, delivering essential
upgrades to our facilities and being a strong voice to government and this Parliament. I could talk at length about some of the achievements
of our public schools and I will do that in the future. In this address I wanted to dissipate some
of the fears of the Terara Public School community that arose through a misunderstanding of communication
they received. There will be no closure of Terara Public
School as long as I am the member for South Coast, Madam Acting Speaker. Hear hear.

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