Funding for middle school study in Katanning

Saskia AdystiThe West Australian

A new study will examine the need for a private middle school in Katanning, as more parents are sending their children away to receive further education outside town.

Natalie Nicholson, from the Great Southern Middle School committee, said she was pleased to secure funding for the study and would analyse the demand for a new middle school in Katanning.

“We’re doing a study on an issue that everybody has been talking about for years,” she said.

Results of a 2016-17 online survey, supported by the Shire of Katanning, highlight concerns of local residents about education for their children.

“The survey represents 1196 individual adults and children with an overwhelming 79% who replied with a positive response to whether they would use or would consider using a new non-government middle school in Katanning,”

“This data reflects that we have a target (group) in town that are leaving or planning to leave town because of schooling issues.” said Ms Nicholson.

A prominent member of the Katanning community, Steve Blyth, was a prime example — his wife and son have recently moved to Perth for his son’s schooling.

Mr Blyth was the previous chairman of Katanning Senior High School.

He decided to enrol his son at a middle school in Perth because of concerns about ongoing issues he said Katanning Senior High School still struggled with.

“I believe the Government has not put enough resources into a high school like Katanning,” he said.

Mr Blyth disagrees with the “one-size-fits-all” model that the Government uses to manage most public schools.

“It’s to do with the demographic of the students. Katanning deals with issues some other school’s don’t have to deal with, so it’s a tougher environment for all the wonderful teachers who work there.”

Department of Education Wheatbelt regional executive director Alison Ramm said she was well aware of the concerns raised by parents on various aspects of their children’s education at Katanning Senior High School.

She said improving the school, particularly in the area of leadership, was an ongoing issue.

“I expect the school to aim to provide a high standard of education for every student — and the staff have embraced this and are working together to ensure this occurs,” Ms Ramm said.

Ms Nicholson said the committee was planning to show that the establishment of a middle school would have very minimal impact on the existing school in Katanning. She said the new middle school would target a different market in the region and its existence would lead to future growth in the area.

“The important component of the study is to keep family together for a little bit longer,” she said.

“In the growth and implementation plan set for Royalties for Regions, it clearly identifies for Katanning to grow, it would need to have a new private high school,” she said.

Funding for The Great Southern Middle School committee was given by the Great Southern Development Commission Community Chest Fund and the Katanning Shire.

The Great Southern Middle School Committee will finalise its study and deliver report in September.

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