Date:9.27 AM THURSDAY, 4 May 2000
Member:Holmes, Mrs Monica
Barnett, Mr Colin
Page:6543 / 1

school. He was able to see firsthand that it required attention and as a result he kindly arranged for minor improvements to be made in the reception area and the registrar's office, for which everyone was very grateful. The need for upgrading of the school has also been acknowledged by the Education Department and Mr Barrie Wells, the new district superintendent, who kindly visited the school with me earlier this year. A discussion took place at the conclusion of the visit between me, the principal, representatives from the parents and citizens association, Mr Wells and a representative from the Education Department. At this time it was acknowledged by the department that parts of the school, including the home economics wing, were not equipped to fulfil the current curriculum requirements. The school has repeatedly put forward requests for upgrades, particularly for a design and technology classroom, home economics wing and the administration area. It also wants an adequate work area and interview space for pastoral care staff. It has also requested a work area that is safe and noise and traffic free. I fully understand the difficulties that surround the important need to maintain the infrastructure in all the schools in education districts in our State. I am also mindful of the balance that must be struck to ensure that everyone receives the attention they so rightly deserve. I am proud that Southern River has two of the newest, most magnificent primary schools in the State. However, I firmly believe that Gosnells Senior High School has been ignored by successive Governments - not by this Government - for far too long. It is the only government high school that services the primary schools in the Gosnells area and over the years it has consistently maintained its student population numbers. The parents and citizens association, headed by Anne Smyth, is passionate about the school, a fact that is clearly demonstrated by the P & C's tenacity and ongoing enthusiasm. The people involved have worked tirelessly for years to achieve their goal of the school being recognised for the important role it plays in the community. The principal, Sue Rodway, is also totally committed to the school and its students and is keen to meet curriculum standards to the fullest extent. To this end, at the start of the school year the principal implemented a year 8 block and also renamed areas of the school. This action forms part of the move towards the middle school-senior campus model which is leading the way in fulfilling future secondary education needs in this State.

I too am fervent about Gosnells Senior High School and I am committed to doing everything I can to help the staff, students and the P & C to achieve their goals. I have seen firsthand the wonderful work and the transformation, carried out in consultation with parents and staff, that took place at what was the Maddington Senior High School. This revamp has now created a wonderful learning environment for the students who attend the school, which is now called Yule Brook College. I have no doubt that this new college will provide its students with every opportunity to progress successfully through their secondary education. This is what I want for the students at Gosnells Senior High School. It is a waste of time to do a piecemeal upgrade of the existing facilities at Gosnells. What is required is the same transformation which led to the formation of the Yule Brook College. This approach will ensure that all the needs of staff and students are met into the future, and will enable them to work and learn together on a playing field which is level with their counterparts at Maddington. Therefore, I urge the minister and the Department of Education to take notice of the plight of Gosnells Senior High School with a view to taking urgent action to transform the school's facilities and bring them into the twenty-first century.

MR BARNETT (Cottesloe - Minister for Education) [9.33 am]: I agree with all that the member for Southern River has said about Gosnells Senior High School. I recognise the major need to upgrade many of the senior high schools in this State which were built during the 1960s and 1970s in particular. Those schools were designed in a different era. Many of them have deteriorated over the years and do not have the necessary layout to suit modern education. I will make a few comments specifically about Gosnells before returning to that point.

Gosnells Senior High School was opened in 1976, so it is 24 years old, which is not as old as some other schools which face similar problems. During the period of rapid population growth in Western Australia in the 1960s and leading into the 1970s a great number of senior high schools were built. They are now heading towards being 30 years and even 40 years old. They were never designed to continue much beyond that, and that is becoming evident. Gosnells Senior High School has identified specific areas that need upgrading: The administration and staff facilities, design and technology, and a general maintenance and refurbishment of the school.

As the member said, I visited the school at her request in April last year. Following that an architect visited the school to inspect the facilities. As a result the Education Department made available $15 000 to the school to create some minor changes - to establish a new registrar's office and a new interview room and to upgrade the foyer and reception area. They were fairly minor upgrades, but the school used that small amount of money effectively. During 1999-2000, $86 000 was spent at the school on repairs to roofs and gutters, on tree lopping and on other minor repairs. That is a large amount of money in one year on one school. It reflects the fact that the day-to-day maintenance of these ageing schools is becoming expensive. Beyond that some significant changes in secondary education need to be acknowledged, and we cannot duck the issue.
Some surveys and assessments of parents have shown that parents of primary school age children are generally happy with the standard of facilities and the way primary schools are progressing. However, there is not such a high level of confidence among parents of secondary school students in the government school system. In many respects that reflects the age of many of the secondary school facilities. Some of the changes that have taken place in education are creating an urgent need to do something more about the problem; for example, the growth in vocational education, in which Gosnells Senior High School is strong. It does some fantastic work in that area. Over the past three years the number of students undertaking vocational programs in secondary education has gone from 3 per cent of the total to 30 per cent. That is great; that is providing another attractive and relevant option to traditional tertiary entrance examination subjects. Students are choosing vocational education subjects. That encourages them to stay on and complete their secondary education.