BURREN JUNCTION PUBLIC SCHOOL
(Barwon) [5.28 p.m.]: I speak on behalf of the staff and pupils of Burren Junction Public School, and their parents. Burren Junction school is in my home town. My father attended the school in 1924 with his brothers and sisters, and my family has since had a close relationship with it. Today it has 65 pupils, five permanent staff, an active parents and citizens association and a school council. The Burren Junction Public School has a serious and urgent need. I listened with interest to the reply of the Minister for Education and Training during question time this afternoon when he announced capital works programs for a number of schools throughout New South Wales. I hope that Burren Junction Public School is included in those capital works programs.
The school desperately needs a new or refurbished administration area, as current conditions are affecting the morale and performance of the senior school assistant. Working conditions are substandard, and the provision of space for storage of records and supplies is inadequate. Previous attempts, as late as 1996, at providing new working space have resulted in promises of relocation, but no action has been forthcoming. In 1997 a demountable classroom was promised before the beginning of first term in 1998, but that has not come to fruition. The school needs two new or refurbished classrooms that provide adequate desk and floor space for teaching programs.
No classrooms have teacher resource storerooms, so all equipment must be housed in the classrooms. Currently no year 3 to 6 classes have access to a wet area for art-craft-science activities,
and the current cramped conditions for students and staff are unacceptable. There is no adequate provision for an accident and sick room at the school. Due to distance and isolation, there are no medical facilities at Burren Junction, so ill or injured students may have to wait up to an hour for parents to arrive. No room is available to locate those children comfortably, with adult supervision, so the current practice is for children to remain in the classrooms where teachers can monitor their safety and wellbeing.
First-aid supplies and a locked medical cabinet for prescribed drugs are located in the school assistants’ crowded space. The school needs a large outside storage shed. At present no space is available to house large items such as high-jump mats, trampolines and a vaulting horse. Such equipment should be stored in a shed with a cement floor. The school does not have a principal’s office; at present the principal works out of the school’s storeroom. There is no other exit or entry other than through the school assistants’ work area or the years 5-6 classroom. There is no privacy for appointments or interviews, and the space is crowded and poorly lit.
With regard to the provision of a teaching area for the reading recovery teacher, at present the program is being conducted in the canteen because of lack of space, and on canteen days it is severely affected due to noise levels. The staff toilet is located at the back of the students’ toilet block. That is inconvenient and impractical, as it is a long distance from the staff room. Visitors and staff alike are seriously inconvenienced by the location of the staff toilet. The area is a favourite spot for insects and snakes, as the septic outlet is next to the door.
Provision is needed for a permanent library facility. For a number of years the year 4 classroom has been used as the resource centre for six schools on the country area program - CAP. Because of its central location, Burren Junction has continued to support the CAP initiative through the housing of the resource centre. The demountable building has been used for a library and for Aboriginal tutoring funded by the Department of Employment, Education and Training. In recent times the school council has been concerned that the department will wish to move the demountable building and leave the school without a library.
The community of Burren Junction does not have access to a library service, but the school provides for that community need. The school library is also used for meetings and adult education initiatives. It has television and video facilities, computers, Internet and satellite connections, and radio communication for the distance education of the school’s gifted and talented students. I strongly suggest that this valuable resource be retained at Burren Junction. In light of the building needs of the school I ask the Minister to assist the students, the staff and the community at Burren Junction Public School.