Education

If this was a mainstream school it would be closed

by
May 18, 2018

Echuca Specialist School council president Scott Morrison with his daughter Claudia.

IF ECHUCA Specialist School was a mainstream school, Scott Morrison’s daughter would never have been enrolled there.

For no other reason than its facilities are in a deplorable state.

The teachers and aides are amazing, the school community is incredible, but the occupational health and safety standards are not just unacceptable, they are beyond the pale.

‘‘But given it’s a specialist school there is no option,’’ said Mr Morrison, who is also the school council president.

‘‘There’s a school in Bendigo, I believe, and Shepp, but you couldn’t send your kid there because it’s too far away.’’

Mr Morrison’s daughter, Claudia, 11, started school when she was five in 2012.

‘‘She has severe autism, an intellectual disability and is non-verbal,’’ he said.

‘‘Sending her to the specialist school was an opportunity to move forward with her communication.

‘‘She’s learning to become more at ease with the world because her anxiety is very high.

‘‘Primarily, the focus is on her communication, especially with my wife (Meg) and I so that we can recognise her needs.

‘‘The school does a terrific job — the programs they implement, the staff training and time they give to the kids is amazing.’’

Mr Morrison said the facilities were ‘‘embarrassingly sub-standard’’.

‘‘Even at mainstream level, there’s not many schools that operate in second-hand portals in a gravel car park that doesn’t even belong to the school,’’ he said.

‘‘We pay $100,000 rent which is money we could spend on programs and equipment. It’s a situation where we shouldn’t be in.’

Mr Morrison said he was demoralised.

‘‘You get sick of hearing promises that are broken,’’ he said.

‘‘I was on the planning committee of the new school ... it was only at the eleventh hour that they suggested there was a stage two.

‘‘We never knew through the whole process that it would be divided. For that to happen and then to miss out on the funding twice, it’s almost at a stage you get sick of trying, almost.

‘‘You think, what else can you do.’’

‘‘You’ve got the most vulnerable people you can have so why are they not being provided for?

‘‘How does a school hope to attract more teaching staff (on top of its 19 teachers and 16 aides) when you’ve got such outdated facilities?’’

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