OUR SAY | Silver bullet to cater to growing population is locked and loaded

IN the award-winning US television series The West Wing, presidential advisor Sam Seaborn describes education as “the silver bullet”, the means by which governments can rectify so many of society’s ills and inequalities.

“Education is everything. We don't need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes … I just haven't figured out how to do it yet,” he says during a discussion on education funding.

For different and somewhat less dramatic reasons, education may prove to be Orange’s silver bullet, and by adopting the Orange Blayney Cabonne Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS), Orange City Council may have shown they have figured out how to do it.

The three councils will use the REDS as their guide for funding priorities in the coming years.

Among the document’s many recommendations is that mining, health, tourism, agriculture and education should be front and centre in plans for the future.

While there’s no questioning the value and importance of the first four fields, it’s the last one which might unlock the city’s potential, because should council hope to grow Orange’s population further – and what council isn’t looking to welcome more residents? – the provision of further schools will be critical.

Any parent will tell you that their children’s education is a top priority. Outside of their health and happiness, nothing is more important than giving them the best shot to learn and succeed within the confines of the classroom.

Some may say Orange already boasts an enviable selection of educational facilities, from preschools through to our Charles Sturt University campus.

That’s true. But then, so does Bathurst. Dubbo too, for that matter, while Wagga and Armidale can and do make the same claim.

If Orange wants to stand out from the regional pack as an attractive tree-change location, expanding its range educational institutions and opportunities is not optional: it is a must.

When parents and prospective residents are weighing up any relocation, you can guarantee they’ll do their homework on schools, and new, state-of-the-art facilities, an absence of wait lists, and small class sizes will be at the top of their wish lists.

By making provisions for more primary and secondary school locations in the city, council looks like it is laying the groundwork to tick those boxes.