Naracoorte High School’s decision to move its Independent Learning Center (ILC) to the main school grounds due to funding issues has been criticized by students and parents.
Principal John Harris announced the decision to move the ILC from its current Smith Street location to the high school grounds during a meeting last week.
With fewer students using ILC and a continued reduction in the overall school population, Mr. Harris said it was not financially viable to keep ILC offsite.
However, one of the disappointed parents Caroline Barker said the decision was a hammer blow to ILC students, many of whom only continued their studies because ILC was separated from the high school campus. .
“These students have disengaged from the school establishment – a lot of them because of the bullying, the unresolved bullying,” she said. “Having to go back to this campus, a lot of them will give up.
“It’s a place of fear for them. They’re going to lose students… some of them will go there, but not all of them.”
Although they were assured that ILC students would continue to enjoy the same opportunities and support under the new arrangement, Ms Barker doubted that this would be the case in the long term.
“Many of them have also disengaged from teachers and they are working very well with ILC staff. once again.”
Ms Barker said she can understand the decision from a financial perspective, but believes other factors such as student well-being and engagement are just as important as money. She also felt that a lack of communication made the news more difficult to take.
“Mr. Harris said he’s been working on this for a long time, but last Tuesday was the first time we were officially told. We’re a little disappointed with how everything turned out. gave us time to do something?
“Now we have no options due to time constraints. We believe this option was taken away from us because it was not communicated sooner.”
The school supports the decision
Principal Harris defended the decision, saying there were only three options: shut down ILC completely, keep ILC but cut down on high school staff, or move ILC to high school.
Mr Harris said the move would be just a change of address, saying: “The fantastic services and education provided at ILC will continue” in a space in which students can feel they have “the property”.
“Coupled with ILC students having alternate start / finish and break times, this will maximize their ability to continue their studies in a positive environment,” he explained.
“Once established, we will invite parents to visit the new space so they can see what we have to offer.
“The move will also help ILC students access more vocational education and training opportunities, giving them better access to industrial training and pathways to employment.
Principal Harris said The herald that all current ILC teachers and support staff will continue next year as part of the relocation, including two staff working on both campuses.
The majority of students who access ILC are part of a program called the Flexible Learning Option, designed to help at-risk students stay in school. The school reported that over the past five years there has been a decrease in the number of students accessing FLO. The number of students accessing ILC in 2020 and beyond is also declining, further contributing to the lack of funding.
Another ILC parent, Elizabeth Evans, agreed with Ms Barker that the move would result in dropping out of the students, “absolutely, without a doubt.”
“My daughter left high school because she was so bullied. She wouldn’t go back.”
Ms Evans said more alternatives such as other cheaper offsite sites should have been explored rather than moving to high school.
The petition is gaining momentum
An online petition to stop the movement was launched two months ago via change.org and has drawn over 500 signatures and a number of comments.
Kiara: “I moved to ILC so that I could complete my studies in an environment where I felt safe and had the appropriate support I needed for my learning. t to have a learning space outside of the high school campus, I would not have finished my 11th grade and I would not currently be finishing my 12th grade. “
Jacqui: “As a mother who has had a daughter at ILC, I know firsthand that sometimes the problems lie on the school campus itself. Returning the ILC to campus will not help children who are bullied or tormented on campus. “
Thomas: “Without ILC I would have struggled to finish grade 12. The flexibility to learn when you have a full time job is such a great idea.”
Caroline: “The community needs to reflect on the impact and effectiveness of this site on the future of vulnerable young people in Naracoorte and surrounding areas. Closing this space eliminates an educational opportunity and choice for young people that does not fit the traditional model. “
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