Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall is strongly objecting to a move to  permanently close Nowendoc Public School, requesting the Department of Education give the community and local families another chance to find and enrol local students.

Mr Marshall said he was advised last week by the Department that it was commencing a process to close the school for good and sell off its assets, following three years of the school being ‘in recess’, with no students enrolled.

Mr Marshall said that despite the low number of enrolments in the past few years, there were new families moving into the area who would benefit from the school remaining available for the time being.

“If the Department is allowed to formally close Nowendoc Public School there will be no coming back, it will be gone forever,” Mr Marshall said.

“Inevitably, the school buildings, land and even the Principal’s house next door would be sold off, which would be a great shame and deny future Nowendoc district youngsters the chance to receive an education close to home.

“I think everyone understands the Department cannot keep the school ‘in recess’ indefinitely, but with some new young families moving into the area in the last 12 months, there should be one last opportunity given to the community to locate and enrol students, before the final bell in rung on the school.

“A new family has moved into the area recently with three young children, and another with two young children, who would benefit from the school remaining available and re-opening.

“Currently, one Kindergarten student travels from Nowendoc to Walcha to attend school, one of the closest public schools in the area, which is an almost 150-kilometres round trip on a bus each day.

“While Nowendoc is a small township, it is a beautiful and picturesque location with the potential to grow and develop, especially with many people looking to relocate for the rural lifestyle and due to cost of living pressures.”

Mr Marshall said the Department of Education had advised the final student finished at Nowendoc Public School in 2020. The school was kept open but placed into recess from the 2021 school year.

“The community and I strongly oppose the permanent closure until the Department of Education undertakes some further work to survey the community and cast the net widely for students,” he said.

“In the meantime, Nowendoc Public School must remain in recess for the time being, to keep it as an option for future students currently in, or moving into, Nowendoc.”

Mr Marshall said he has been in contact with the Minister for Education Prue Car about the decision, urging her to reconsider Nowendoc’s permanent closure.

However, a spokesperson for the NSW Department of Education claims Mr Marshall raised no such objections when they consulted him earlier this month.

“There have been no enrolment enquiries for Nowendoc Public School since it was placed in recess at the start of 2021. 

“The decision to close the school was made after a consultation process earlier this month that included the local MP and representatives from the NSW Teachers Federation, the Armidale Primary Principals Association, and the Federation of P&C Associations of NSW. 

“No concerns about the closure were raised during that consultation period.” 

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