WHEN year 11 students Shannon Anderson and Tashana Leonard wanted to unwind from school and try out the indoor aquatic centre on their day-off from exams, the two 17-year-olds never expected to be refused entry to the pool.
The Orange High School students showed their school identification cards on Tuesday to pay the $4 concession rate instead of the $5.50 adult entry fee, but were told by a pool staffer juveniles were not allowed in the centre during school hours.
Shannon’s grandmother Janice Glover dropped the pair at the pool at 11am and rang the pool when she found out they were barred. She is calling for the “ridiculous” policy to be scrapped.
“There needs to be rules and guidelines but they need to reasonable and the community needs to be told,” she said.
“Where else is there in town for 17-year-old girls to go? They can’t go to pubs and clubs and most don’t skateboard.”
Ms Glover said the flexible timetables of students made the 9am to 3pm ban unreasonable, especially for senior students at Orange High School who did not have to go to school during sports time on Wednesday afternoons.
Ms Glover said she checked with both Bathurst and Blayney pools, which confirmed children were allowed in any time of the day.
Council spokesman Nick Redmond defended the policy, which he said had been in place since 2006 with support from the police and the education department.
But Shannon said she and her friends were never refused entry to the pool during school hours on Wednesdays last season.
Mr Redmond said it would be too difficult for the council to manage timetables for all the city’s schools to find out when students had free time.
He said truancy had never been a major problem but the rules were there for a reason.
An education department spokesman said year 11 students at Orange High School had been told they could study in the library or, with their parents’ permission, at home when not undertaking an exam.
The spokesman said all public school secondary students were issued with a common leave pass when authorised to be out of school as part of a “well-established” decade-long system.
But Ms Glover and her granddaughter were unaware of the pass.
The department’s spokesman said truancy accounts for around 5 per cent of all unsatisfactory school absences.
“For more than seven years, a wide range of local businesses and facilities in Orange have supported school attendance by displaying signs which support school attendance,” he said.