Good things come in small packages

GEORGE Eleftheriou and his partner Louise Rosser can not picture what life would be like if the small school their children attend was to close. 

For the parents of Sophie Eleftheriou who has autism, it is important she gets individual attention, her own learning program and her own teacher’s assistant. 

Mr Eleftheriou wholeheartedly believes that the only way to ensure she gets the education she needs is to send her to a small school, Clergate Public School. 

“We looked around the other schools and we knew at Clergate there would be more of a focus on her,” he said. 

“She’d get lost in a bigger school.”

In the last five years Clergate Public School increased its enrolments by 48 per cent to 80 students, a trend which has occurred for nearly every small school on the outskirts of Orange, despite plans by the state government to reclassify the roles of their principals. According to figures published on the Department of Education and Communities website Borenore Public School increased by 80 per cent to 36 students and it is believed enrolments for next year have already increased by another 14 per cent. 

Cudal Public School gained 13 students to bring it up to 70 while Spring Hill Public School increased by 12 students in the last five years to 43. 

The NSW Department of Education is proposing to downgrade to leading teacher status those principals in charge of primary schools having a budget of less than $1 million. Non-teaching matters would be handled by a co-ordinating principal at a larger hub school.

Canobolas Public School P and C president Melissa Caulfield said she believed small schools would continue to increase in popularity but would always maintain their strong link with the community.

She said one of the main benefits of having children who are at different learning levels in the one classroom was that students could “learn up” if they wanted to and were not shoehorned into a particular year group. 

“All the teachers know my children individually, it’s a more personal schooling experience which isn’t run of the mill,” she said. 

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