Great Southern’s tiny schools with big hearts in class of their own

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Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
The South Stirling Primary School for 2021.
Camera IconThe South Stirling Primary School for 2021.

Scattered across the Great Southern, there are tiny schools with big hearts.

School is back for 2021 — for the Great Southern anyway.

News of an emergency COVID-19 media conference from Premier Mark McGowan on Sunday had parents wondering whether school holidays would be extended.

But with the Great Southern falling outside the lockdown zone, children started their studies on schedule.

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About a one-hour drive north-east of Albany, about 20 children have started Term 1 at South Stirling Primary School.

Principal Dianne Fry said there was something special about the tiny school near the Stirling Range.

“South Stirling is rather unique in that it is not located in a town. Our students come mainly from surrounding farms,” Ms Fry said.

“Our location, on the edge of the Stirling Range National Park, means that we have an amazing resource on our back door.

“Our students are able to ride bikes, walk and do cross-country running on safe tracks in the beautiful surrounds.”

South Stirling is not alone in having a total enrolment smaller than most city classrooms.

Wellstead Primary School had 21 students last year, while Mt Manypeaks Primary School had just 16.

Ms Fry said as farms grew bigger because of technological advances, the catchment area for students declined. These small farming schools bring together students whose neighbours live several kilometres away.

They have a close relationship and unite for sporting or academic events, building friendship across the region. Ms Fry said South Stirling had a relatively high staff-to-student ratio and was particularly proud of its music program, with every child from Years 3-6 playing an instrument.

“Our school is the hub of the community and we are really proud of our facilities and dedicated staff,” Ms Fry said.

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