Parents fight Year 7 shift

Member for the Agricultural Region Darren West (left) with a group of petitioners on the steps of Parliament House last Friday.
Member for the Agricultural Region Darren West (left) with a group of petitioners on the steps of Parliament House last Friday.

Many of the signatures came from Wheatbelt residents, who often have to send teenagers to boarding schools in Perth.

They have major concerns about sending younger children away from home and the increase in costs of an extra year’s city education at a time when many farmers are already struggling.

Member for the Agricultural Region Darren West, who with a group of petitioners visited Parliament House last Friday, said regional residents were also concerned about the viability of smaller country schools.

‘In country towns, it is common for parents to send their children to boarding schools when they start high school,’ Mr West said.

‘Parents have expressed concerns that the transition of Year 7 students into high school will mean their children are sent a year earlier ” often as young as 11 ” which could pose problems for students of such a young age.’

Mr West said the Government had failed to consult adequately with Wheatbelt families before announcing the Year 7 change.

‘It should examine offering exemptions to schools with small student numbers, or schools that are great distances from the nearest high school,’ he said.

‘Small country towns, where the primary school is often the heart of the community, may be pushed over the edge as families move to bigger centres because of this decision.’