Crows Nest Boys High School Site

About this Item
SpeakersBurnswoods The Hon Jan


The Hon. JAN BURNSWOODS [10.25]: I raise an issue concerning the press release issued by the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs on 27th February and the expressions of grave concern from the Chatswood High School Parents and Citizens Association. In a letter to the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs
the association stated:
      Chatswood High School P & C Association wishes to express its disgust at the announcements contained within the Minister's media release announcing the occupation of the Crows Next Boys High School site by North Sydney Girls High School.
      Our school's community representative, Mr Lindsay Skinner, Vice-President of our Association, was the Chatswood High School Community Representative. The acting principal and teacher representatives on the Committee are clearly compromised by being employees of the Department in their ability to openly express their views. Employees of the Department make up two thirds of the LNSCC therefore the community members must speak out.
      The Media Release is a masterpiece of the art of obfuscation.
      Parts of recommendations of the Committee have been combined in a totally disingenuous manner to give the appearance that the announcements are consistent with the recommendations of the Committee.
      The Media Release is shamefully deceitful.

Page 1719
      The consultative process - described by the Department and the Minister as being the model for future Consultative Committees to inform and advise the Department of the requirements of the community and the professional educators in a co-operative consultative process - is shown to be a shabby hoax. The recommendations of the committee have not been made public and have been blatantly ignored.
      When the Committee presented its report in draft form to the Minister on 10 December 1991, it was advised that the report was CONFIDENTIAL and that the Committee would be recalled in the first weeks of the 1992 term to discuss amendments suggested by the Department, to allow a final report, agreed by both the Department and the Committee, to be published.
      The Minister has instead released a statement to the media which point by point is contrary to the recommendations of the Consultative Committee's draft report recommendations.
      1 The Committee did not recommend the use of Crows Nest Boys High School site for a permanent site for North Sydney Girls High School.
      2 The Committee recommended that the existing North Sydney Girls High School facilities be improved by purchase of adjoining (available) land, and construction of suitable buildings combined with refurbishment of the existing buildings, to provide appropriate facilities.
      3 The Committee was unanimous in its recommendation that the best solution to the existing problems of North Sydney Girls High was to improve its present site, and that Crows Nest Boys High School site be used for a post-compulsory college for students wishing to study for the equivalent of School and Higher School Certificate courses.

The Hon. Virginia Chadwick: That was announced yesterday. You are a day too late, I am sorry.

The Hon. JAN BURNSWOODS: No, that was Crows Nest, not North Sydney. The letter continued:
      4 The Committee was divided on obvious allegiances about increasing the number of selective high school students. The majority (four comprehensive schools of a total of six) was opposed to the increase because of the impact on neighbouring comprehensive high schools.
      5 The Committee's recommendation was specifically in favour of a post-compulsory education college on the Crows Nest High School site, when available. The Minister and the Hon John Fahey actively explored the Bradfield College proposal, which was not a move supported by the Committee.
      The developments referred to have not flowed from consideration of the efforts of the lower North Shore Secondary Education Consultative Committee. This statement is absolute fiction.
      The decision to close Crows Nest Boys High School was made by the Minister before the Committee was established. There is evidence - confirmed by the North Sydney Girls High principal and others surveying Crows Nest Boys High School before the Committee was established - that the Minister had already determined her solution for North Sydney Girls, and Crows Nest Boys High Schools. The Committee, which met from early September to late December 1991 was a cynical attempt to make this body seem to be responsible for those decisions.
      Meanwhile the gender imbalance at the co-educational high schools, miraculously unknown to the Department until brought to its notice by the Committee is:
      (a) ignored and not commented on,
      (b) worsening.
      This by-product of school closure must in fact be very well known by the department following the closure of Drummoyne High School and its effect on Hunters Hill High School.
      The closure of Crows Nest Boys High appears to be having an unexpected impact on the surrounding
Page 1720
schools, and unprecedented numbers of boys are enrolling at Chatswood High, and enrolments at Willoughby Girls High are drastically reduced thus threatening the existence of that school.
      The Chatswood High School P & C Assn. demands answers to the following questions from the NSW Minister for School Education in relation to the media release of 27/2/92 and the recommendations of the Lower North Shore Consultative Committee.
      1) If the Minister did not intend to use Committee recommendations why did she waste everyone's time by calling for community consultation.
      2) If she did not intend to follow the Committee's recommendations why did she cynically use the name of the Committee when releasing her plans for moving North Sydney Girls High School.
      3) When is the Minister scheduling her promised meeting with the Lower North Shore Consultative Committee.
      4) When will the recommendations of the Committee be released.

[Time expired.]