Save WA’s Schools of the Air

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Through Meekatharra School of the Air, my two boys aged 7 and 9 have had wonderful opportunities to socialise with kids in their school despite living on a remote station.

Closing the Schools of the Air will have a far reaching and devastating impact for many Outback families in WA including ours.

— Caroline Ward, Lake Violet Station, Wiluna

Outback families live and work in some of the most remote parts of Western Australia – looking after our amazing Outback on behalf of all Western Australians.

Life in the bush has its hardships – in remote areas, families are a long way from the services that people in the city take for granted like schools, hospitals and shops.

And now the WA government is planning to make things even harder by axing WA’s Schools of the Air.

This means 5 separate, regionally based schools would close with no prior warning.

This is a huge worry for Outback families with primary-school aged kids. It could be another nail in the coffin for sustainable Outback communities. The last thing Western Australians want to see is more people leaving the land, forced to relocate to the city to access their children’s right to an education.

Education is a right for Australians, not a privilege. Outback kids should have access to a local School of the Air, so they can interact with other kids their age, have contact with a teacher and go on school camps – as other Australian school kids do.

The Isolated Children’s Parents' Association, Save Our Schools of the Air alliance, Partnership for the Outback and many Outback families are asking for your help to save WA's Schools of the Air.

Send an email now to let the McGowan Government know that this isn’t acceptable – Outback kids deserve a fair education.


 

How closing Schools of the Air would hurt bush kids and families

  • Closing WA’s Schools of the Air would remove the opportunity for primary-school aged kids to interact with a local peer group and to socialise with kids their own age via technology and face to face at school camps.
  • The McGowan Government says that kids would instead be educated through the School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE), based in Perth. This would mean replacing a real school – where kids have day-today interaction with teachers and peers through virtual classrooms – with a correspondence course, delivered from afar. SIDE cannot replace Schools of the Air.
  • Remote children would lose the social interaction that’s so important for their development.
  • Parents in remote areas are usually part teacher, mentor and parent to their kids – and for many, this wouldn’t be possible without the support of Schools of the Air.
  • Many families would have to move to towns or cities to secure an equitable education for their children, and Outback Western Australia stands to lose valuable expertise and community leaders as a result.
  • The Outback is a landscape that needs people actively managing it to keep it healthy, so the loss of people from the Outback not only diminishes the social fabric of our state, it also has a profound impact on the land itself.

 

“The decision to close the Schools of the Air is not just bad news for remote-living families, but for Western Australia. School of the Air is an Australian icon and to lose this and hurt vulnerable bush children is shameful.”

- Tash Johns, President of the Isolated Children's Parents' Association WA (ICPA WA), from Marble Bar in the Pilbara

“Schools of the Air do not duplicate the Government’s city-based solution, which is to deliver the curriculum centrally.  One is a local school for remote primary children and the other is a central provider of distance education, for all ages and a variety of purposes. Like every other local primary school around Western Australia, the Schools of the Air excel in what they do, with customised learning programs, face-to-face teacher home visits, sense of belonging, connectedness, socialisation, support and monitoring the ‘full curriculum’.  This cannot be replicated by a Perth based service, that already has 2000 students enrolled, mostly in secondary.”

- Liz Sudlow, Vice-President of ICPA WA, from Northampton

“For 17 years we've lived in the Murchison. A lot has been achieved - land has been healed, the property is healthier, and my mother and I have worked in allied health with our contribution recognised nationally. These achievements have been possible because of the School of the Air's ability to engage and motivate our children to work independently - through contact with teachers and classmates, through customising curriculum and by supporting my development as a home tutor. WA needs a healthy Outback - and the Outback needs the School of the Air if it is going to flourish.”

- Jo Jackson King, pastoralist, author, allied health worker, mother and home tutor

“I am a pastoralist and a mother who lives in remote WA and never in my life have I had so much to lose. The McGowan Labor Government’s decision to axe the five Schools of the Air across WA in 2019 has totally gutted my family and our outback community.” (Read Lara's full letter here)

- Lara Jensen, Wondinong Station, Mt Magnet

Email the Minister: bush kids deserve a fair go

What do you want to do?

Dear Minister Sue Ellery [and local MP],

Yours sincerely,
[Your name will be added automatically]

    Supported by:

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    How closing Schools of the Air would hurt bush kids and families

    • Closing WA’s Schools of the Air would remove the opportunity for primary-school aged kids to interact with a local peer group and to socialise with kids their own age via technology and face to face at school camps.
    • The McGowan Government says that kids would instead be educated through the School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE), based in Perth. This would mean replacing a real school – where kids have day-today interaction with teachers and peers through virtual classrooms – with a correspondence course, delivered from afar. SIDE cannot replace Schools of the Air.
    • Remote children would lose the social interaction that’s so important for their development.
    • Parents in remote areas are usually part teacher, mentor and parent to their kids – and for many, this wouldn’t be possible without the support of Schools of the Air.
    • Many families would have to move to towns or cities to secure an equitable education for their children, and Outback Western Australia stands to lose valuable expertise and community leaders as a result.
    • The Outback is a landscape that needs people actively managing it to keep it healthy, so the loss of people from the Outback not only diminishes the social fabric of our state, it also has a profound impact on the land itself.

     

    “The decision to close the Schools of the Air is not just bad news for remote-living families, but for Western Australia. School of the Air is an Australian icon and to lose this and hurt vulnerable bush children is shameful.”

    - Tash Johns, President of the Isolated Children's Parents' Association WA (ICPA WA), from Marble Bar in the Pilbara

    “Schools of the Air do not duplicate the Government’s city-based solution, which is to deliver the curriculum centrally.  One is a local school for remote primary children and the other is a central provider of distance education, for all ages and a variety of purposes. Like every other local primary school around Western Australia, the Schools of the Air excel in what they do, with customised learning programs, face-to-face teacher home visits, sense of belonging, connectedness, socialisation, support and monitoring the ‘full curriculum’.  This cannot be replicated by a Perth based service, that already has 2000 students enrolled, mostly in secondary.”

    - Liz Sudlow, Vice-President of ICPA WA, from Northampton

    “For 17 years we've lived in the Murchison. A lot has been achieved - land has been healed, the property is healthier, and my mother and I have worked in allied health with our contribution recognised nationally. These achievements have been possible because of the School of the Air's ability to engage and motivate our children to work independently - through contact with teachers and classmates, through customising curriculum and by supporting my development as a home tutor. WA needs a healthy Outback - and the Outback needs the School of the Air if it is going to flourish.”

    - Jo Jackson King, pastoralist, author, allied health worker, mother and home tutor

    “I am a pastoralist and a mother who lives in remote WA and never in my life have I had so much to lose. The McGowan Labor Government’s decision to axe the five Schools of the Air across WA in 2019 has totally gutted my family and our outback community.” (Read Lara's full letter here)

    - Lara Jensen, Wondinong Station, Mt Magnet

    WILL YOU SIGN?