Concerns are growing that Fraser Coast schools might not be able to cope if a plan to shift Year 7 to high school goes ahead.
Concerns are growing that Fraser Coast schools might not be able to cope if a plan to shift Year 7 to high school goes ahead. Valerie Horton

MP: high school plan "madness"

FRASER Coast high schools will not be able to cope if the State Government pushes forward with a controversial plan to take Year 7 out of primary school and make it the first year of high school.

That’s the view of Fraser Coast MPs Ted Sorenson and Chris Foley who yesterday slammed the $350 million move as “madness” and “very concerning”.

“With overcrowding already a problem this is set to become critical,” said Mr Sorenson, Member for Hervey Bay.

“Urangan State High School is one of the most crowded in the state with around 1590 pupils, making it 94 per cent capacity. How on earth is it to cope with a 20 per cent increase in enrolments?”

The plan was revealed earlier this month as part of the government’s latest green paper. It was prompted by the introduction of Prep year in 2007.

What made the situation most concerning, said Mr Sorenson, was Education Minister Geoff Wilson’s statement that “current forecasts indicate that an additional high school will not be required within the Department’s 20-year forward plan for new schools in Hervey Bay”.

“You’ve only got to look at the urban growth over the past 10 years ... It just doesn’t add up.”

Figures released by LNP Shadow Minister for Education Bruce Flegg show that there were 13,610 Qld high school students in high schools that exceeded 100 per cent capacity and more than 40,000 students in Year 7 on their way.

On the Fraser Coast, both Urangan High and Aldridge High are sitting at 94 per cent.

“It’s madness to say, especially somewhere like Hervey Bay, which is growth central, that in 2014 we’re going to put all the Year 7 students of all schools into the high schools,” said Mr Foley, Member for Maryborough.

Mr Sorenson said he would be pursuing the issue on behalf of local families.

“I will be making representations on behalf of all high schools to tell the State Government that we have already put up with very crowded conditions without major initiatives in education in the local area.”

PACKED TO THE RAFTERS

Urangan High – 1590 students (94% capacity)

Aldridge High – 993 students (94% capacity)

Maryborough High – 754 students

Hervey Bay High – 679 students



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