Parents call for return to Ouse school

PROMISES made when students of the Ouse District School transferred to Westerway Primary School at the start of this year have not been met, local parents say. Save Ouse School spokesperson Kasey Myatt, of Waddamana, said parents had been told the arrangement would see Ouse students travel to Westerway three times per week for social interaction due to the small numbers at their own school.

Instead, Ms Myatt said children were bussed to Westerway all week, with no classes being held at the Ouse campus. Getting to Westerway is another concern expressed by parents who spoke to the News last week. Kirsty Williams, of Strickland, said parents had been told their children would be transported directly from the Ouse school to Westerway school via minivan, leaving at 8.05am.

But Ms Williams said that arrangement had lasted about a month and the students now had to board a bus in the town car park at 7.35am for the 45-minute ride, with a change of bus at Ellendale. Both families also have to drive considerable distances from their homes to Ouse before boarding the bus. They return to Ouse around 3.45pm. Ms Myatt and Ms Williams say there are about 10 students attending Westerway who could be educated at Ouse and there are others at Glenora District School.

They said parents’ reasons for enrolling their children at Westerway and Glenora had been mischaracterised by the Education Department. They also pointed to a potential need for schooling at Ouse as the Tarraleah hydropower redevelopment ramps up in the next two years. “We want to have the school reopened,” Ms Myatt said.

Principal of the Westerway and Ouse schools, Andrea Long, today said it had been intended to conduct classes at Ouse this year with an expected enrolment of 17, but this had dropped to the critically-low number of five during the summer break and would not attract enough resources to provide the level of social and academic opportunity available at the Glenora or Westerway schools.

“A number of families made the decision at the end of last year to transfer enrolment, preferring the opportunity of a larger school,” Ms Long said. “All remaining families were contacted prior to the start of the school year to discuss the situation, that the majority of educational provision (five days) was to now occur at Westerway due to the extremely low numbers, and families were supported to enrol at either Westerway or Glenora as they chose,” she said. “Our number one goal was and always will be to provide excellent educational outcomes for all students.”

Ms Long said efforts were being made to improve the student transport to a single service from Ouse to Westerway after an offer from the Department of State Growth was declined by the main operator of the service.

“New bus services have been provided from Ouse to both Westerway and Glenora from the start of this year to support the enrolments at Westerway and Glenora,” she said. “Both buses leave at 7.35am from Ouse and return at approximately 3.45pm. At the start of the year, while we were looking for a bus driver to employ for the Ouse Westerway run a number of school staff, including teachers, agreed to drive a minibus that the school had leased for this purpose.

“This was only ever a short term solution. This bus left at 8.05am. Despite advertising, we could not find a bus driver for this route. This is indicative of a statewide shortage of bus drivers. However, we were able to make arrangements for transport to Ellendale for a change of bus to meet the regular Ellendale school service. To make the transfer, the bus needed to leave at 7.35am, the same time as the Glenora service, and all families were contacted to discuss this change,” Ms Long said.

Ms Long urged any parents with concerns about this year’s arrangements to contact her at Westerway Primary School.

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