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Motion: Springbank Secondary College

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:51): I move:

That this council—

1. Notes that in 2016 the then Pasadena High School resolved by a voluntary vote process to remain open and not merge;

2. Applauds the rebranded Springbank Secondary College for its ambition to be a progressive, forward-thinking school with a focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics), with a disability unit, basketball academy and trade training centre that provides students with a wide range of specialised opportunities in a school that is small by design;

3. Condemns both the withholding of an allocated $10 million and the recent announcement of a review process that both serve to undermine public confidence in the school’s future;

4. Acknowledges that this review has no stated purpose, was announced to media before it was communicated to the school community and that has placed undue anxiety and stress on current and prospective Springbank Secondary College students, families and staff; and

5. Calls on the Marshall Liberal government to abandon this review into the Springbank Secondary College and release the $10 million to sustain and support the school and its community to thrive.

This motion notes that in 2016, the then Pasadena High School resolved by a voluntary vote process to remain open and not merge. The second point of this motion is applause quite rightly given to the rebranded Springbank Secondary College that rose from that voluntary vote for its ambition to be a progressive, forward-thinking school with a focus on STEAM, being science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. It has a disability unit, a basketball academy and a trade training centre and provides students with a wide range of specialised opportunities in a school that is small by design.

This school is small; it is the little school that could. But so far, it has been told by this government that it cannot, and that is why this motion condemns both the withholding of an allocated $10 million and the recent announcement of a review process that serves to undermine public confidence in the school's future.

This motion acknowledges the fact that this review has no stated purpose. It was announced to the media before it was communicated to the school community with a front page story of Unley, the local school next door, receiving a significant boost in its finances, leaving the Springbank Secondary College students, families and staff with undue anxiety, stress and confusion as to why the minister had not spoken to them about this review, as to what the review's purpose was and why the little school that could had not been given the $10 million that it needed to rebrand, have its STEAM programs and fulfil its ambition.

The Springbank Secondary College community is not taking this lying down. Roughly three weeks ago, along with the member for Elder, the member for Badcoe, the member for Port Adelaide—who is, of course, the shadow minister for education—the Mayor of Mitcham and many from that school community, I attended the Save Springbank meeting. At that meeting, I met a young student who had been to Unley High School and who had left Unley High School due to being bullied. They had been desperately unhappy in that very large school, which is a school of choice for many but a school that is not the one-size-fits-all that many others in our community need—a small school by design that embraces diversity, that strives for other outcomes and that provides that choice. Indeed, as Danielle Duffield, who is a spokesperson for the parents group that is fighting to save Springbank Secondary College states, 'Not everyone wants or needs a big school.'

The $10 million that has not been allocated that was afforded this school to thrive under the Weatherill government should have been afforded to Springbank to ensure that they could achieve the goals they have set themselves. They have been set up to fail by the Marshall Liberal government. The Marshall Liberal government in their ambition, unstated and undefined, to hold a review, using a clause of the Education Act that is only used to either merge or close schools, but without being transparent that that is their intent, has caused undue anxiety and stress in this very small but very strong Springbank school community.

This school went through a voluntary vote process to stay open. It should be respected in that very recent decision to thrive. These children are currently going through not just the COVID-19 anxiety and stress but indeed the anxiety and stress of not knowing whether they will even have a school next year, not knowing whether the friends that they are currently not able to see over these school holidays will be there to greet them next year—their teachers and their school community—on top of the extraordinary stresses that are facing all students in our system.

This smacks of declare and defend. It is not a consultation and a community-based approach. It is not what the Marshall government promised in terms of transparency and trust for the community and listening to their voices. It is setting the school up to fail, and it is an absolute outrage that the $10 million has not been allocated as it should have been and spent to upgrade this school so far.

Not all in the community are going without a fight. I draw members' attention to the words of Yvonne Todd, who is an elected councillor for the Babbage ward of Mitcham council, who has stated publicly that she feels strongly that:

…all talk of a review of Springbank secondary college should stop and let the school community and teachers focus on helping students get through the COVID pandemic and to provide a sense of certainty about the future. Springbank Secondary College has been under fire from the Minister of Education…

I agree with Councillor Todd. Councillor Todd took a motion to the Mitcham council that states that Mitcham council:

1) voice dissatisfaction with the Education Minister’s process of proposing a review of Springbank Secondary College during the COVID19 pandemic; and

2) to ask that the Minister immediately cancels the proposed school review in order to provide the school community of students, parents and teachers, a sense of certainty about their school and education options as we move into the unknown future, after Covid19.

That motion was passed by Mitcham council unanimously, and it was sent to the minister. I hope the minister will listen. I hope that this council will also give voice and listen to this community. It is the little school that could. They are small in number, but the numbers that have been used to reflect this school by the Minister for Education have been misleading at best and mischievous at worst.

The Marshall government needs to come clean as to what their intentions are with this school, why they felt a review process was necessary in the first place, why no terms of reference were produced up-front for this review process and why the students, the staff, the principal and the parents of this school read about it on the front page of The Advertiser before they were even told and given that due respect.

Currently, the local feeder primary schools have all been sent their letters to decide what high school their students wish to attend next year. The usual open days are not possible. The ability for Springbank to attract those students has been utterly damaged by the minister's media escapades, and this school is not being given the chance to thrive that the member for Elder, indeed the member for Black and many others in the Marshall government in opposition said it needed.

I hope in government they will hold true to their words and their promises to this small community whose school is small by design and gives an alternative option to that very student—and so many like her—who did not fit into other high schools, who was struggling, who was not thriving, but who in Springbank, in a small by design school, in the little school that could, is indeed a member of the SRC. She had a beaming smile on her face, and she looks forward to a bright future. If she is sent back to Unley where she was bullied, where she was ostracised, then the minister needs to have at least the guts to tell her to her face and this community why he is choosing to do this.

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