Page 748 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 1 April 2008
the principal of the Southern Cross primary school has already been told that her school will close before the end of this year?
MR BARR: I can absolutely confirm that the Department of Education and Training will be managing all of the renewal projects in this financial year in exactly the same manner as they managed them from the commencement of this program. That means conducting the vast majority of any refurbishment works during school holiday periods and outside school hours. What that means is that we are able to program the works to ensure that there is not disruption to education activities at these schools.
Let me make that clear again: we will minimise the impact on schools. I cannot, in this place, say that no student will be taught in a different classroom later in the year than they are currently. What I can assure the Assembly is that we will conduct any significant work that involves significant disruption, as in having to close an entire wing of a school, for example, during school holiday periods.
It is important to note that these schools, particularly the ones that Mrs Dunne has outlined, are currently operating at less than half capacity. There are many, many, many vacant classrooms. That will enable an effective project management of the refurbishments to ensure that students’ education is not disrupted.
Let me make it very clear that none of the early childhood schools will be closed. None of the early childhood schools will be closed, during the transition period, outside school terms. Whilst school activity is on, the regular, scheduled school terms, schools will operate as normal. Outside that, during school holiday periods, and most particularly at the end of this school year, over the Christmas holidays leading up to the new school year in 2009, those schools will undoubtedly be closed for major renovations. Undoubtedly! Massive work will occur during that Christmas period.
My expectation also would be that work would be able to be undertaken during the school holidays in the middle of the year and during the spring school holidays but that other work may also be possible outside school hours—after 3 o’clock in the afternoon and very early in the morning. But that is a matter for individual project management and for the department of education to work with each school to prioritise the work and to ensure the impact on education at that individual school site is minimised. I will not be micromanaging when workmen go in and do the work. I will leave that to the experts, the project management people who will undertake that work.
Let me be clear that, as a policy from the government, our priority is to ensure that education is not disrupted at these schools, we will do the bulk of work during school holidays and we will minimise any impact on classes at these schools during school time. But it will be necessary, as has been the case across the entire history of renovation of any school or any building, from time to time for activities and refurbishment work to occur in part of a school ground during school time.
I have just come from Campbell primary school that has recently had some work done to refurbish their outdoor play area. For part of the time at the beginning of this school year, part of the play areas was undergoing that refurbishment. There was some