St Stephen’s School art to hit Wanneroo Raceway

THREE St Stephen’s School students’ artwork will hit the Wanneroo Raceway track next week.

Curtin Motorsport team’s business director Dylan Holland, who graduated from the school in 2016, recently enlisted the creativity of Year 12s William Boutle and Adam Fletcher and Year 9 Emily Richards to design and create the rear wing of their 2020 race car.

“The team thought it would be a great idea to collaborate with the community to paint our aerodynamics package,” Mr Holland said.

“St Stephen’s was the first to reach out and show interest in collaborating, so we gave the students the largest element on the car – the first rear wing,” he said.

St Stephen’s School Year 12 student Adam Fletcher, design and visual art teacher Bronwyn Schultz, Curtin Motorsport team business director Dylan Holland and Year 9 student Emily Richards with the artwork for the race car.
Camera IconSt Stephen’s School Year 12 student Adam Fletcher, design and visual art teacher Bronwyn Schultz, Curtin Motorsport team business director Dylan Holland and Year 9 student Emily Richards with the artwork for the race car. Credit: Supplied

The students spent two days completing the project, with the first day involving planning and design and the second spent painting.

“The students were under pressure but they performed excellently to produce a design that complemented the car’s aesthetics,” design and visual art teacher Bronwyn Schultz said.

The Curtin Motorsport team is a co-curricular program that provides university students with firsthand engineering and business experience, which involves the development of a formula-style race car to compete in the Formula SAE series.

The FS West race will be hosted by Curtin Motorsport Team, ECU Racing and UWA Motorsport at Wanneroo Raceway on December 1.

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Second mother speaks over claims autistic child was placed in lockable ‘sensory room’ at Sydney school

A mother says her daughter could hear crying “for most of the afternoon” while an autistic boy was allegedly placed in a lockable ‘sensory room’ at a school in Sydney’s south.

The NSW Department of Education has stood aside the principal at Penshurst West Public School as it investigates if any children were locked in the room, after concerns were raised by parents. 

Deputy Secretary of NSW Department of Education, Murat Dizdar said the allegations made against the school were “serious” but a full investigation would be conducted.

“The safety, wellbeing and welfare of every one of our children — every child and young person — inside school gates, is of paramount importance to us,” he said.

“We take that responsibility and we take that accountability very, very seriously each day.

“On becoming aware of these most serious allegations, we have acted very promptly as a department and have conducted and commenced a thorough and full investigation.

“That’s the right action to take in interests of all parties but particularly the families and our students who have raised these allegations.”

Mr Dizdar said a new principal had been appointed as the investigation takes its course.

Mother banned after police issue notice from school

Katerina Ferekos, whose seven-year-old son Yianni attends Penshurst West Public School, said she raised concerns with the school’s original principal in September, after another student reported seeing Yianni being placed in the allegedly lockable room.

Katerina Ferekos raised concerns her son Yianni was locked in a room at Penshurst West Public School.(ABC News: Josh Bavas)

“I’m not ashamed to have a child with ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder],” she said.

“We were told it’s impossible to have locks on the room … and I said, ‘well, they’re there,’ and that’s when an investigation started.”

But she said she was even more shocked when police officers delivered her a notice under the Inclosed Lands Protection Act from the principal to her home, banning her from school grounds after a confrontation with him earlier in the day.

A school sign.
The principal of the school has been stood aside while an investigation takes place.(ABC News: Josh Bavas)

“Advocating and having a voice for your child is not a crime and I will not stop until my last breath,” she said.

Tina Taruste, whose daughter said she saw Yianni being placed in the room, reported the incident to Ms Ferekos and later raised the concerns with school staff.

“My daughter said she could hear crying for most of the afternoon, when he was in there,” she said.

“I was quite concerned about her mental health — she’s very high functioning and I was concerned about her mental health.

“Our other concern was for the other kids.

“We wanted to look into it and find out what was going on.”

Among the claims being examined by investigators is a report that a therapist had to request keys to be able to access Yianni in the small room.

In mid-October, the school’s principal issued a newsletter to parents stating renovation work was being carried out to expand the sensory room and remove any locks.

Calls for ‘rethink’ of behavioural management

Chief Executive of Autism Awareness Australia Nicole Rogerson said her organisation received similar reports from parents across the country.

“We know very well about good inclusive education practices,” she said.

A woman in glasses
Nicole Rogerson says there should be a “dramatic rethink” about how schools educate children with disabilities.(ABC News: Josh Bavas)

“There’s a lot of research to support it, we know how to do it, that just doesn’t mean it’s being rolled out.”

She said education departments need to rethink the way they monitor their policies and procedures.

“There has to be a dramatic rethink about how we educate children with a disability in our schools.

“It needs leadership form the top but it needs systemic change.

“This isn’t just something a little bit of extra teacher training can address — this is a problem where principals have an awful lot of power in their local schools and parents are very much left to these devices.

“It’s got to change.”

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Sydney school under investigation for locking child with autism in ‘sensory room’

An autism awareness advocate is calling on schools across the country to ensure they properly treat children with a disability, after revelations a Sydney school is under investigation for installing locks on rooms for students who misbehave.

The New South Wales Department of Education is investigating a Penshurst West Public School, in Sydney’s south, after concerned parents discovered locks were installed on a small “sensory room”.

Katerina Ferekos, whose seven-year-old son Yianni is enrolled at the school, raised concerns with the principal earlier this year.

“I’m not ashamed to have a child with ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder],” she said.

“We were told it’s impossible to have locks on the room … and I said, ‘well, they’re there,’ and that’s when an investigation started.”

A lock can be seen on a door at the school.(Facebook)

Another parent later noticed a picture of a bolt on the room door, in the background of another photo which was uploaded to social media.

Ms Ferekos said she was left shocked after receiving a notice from the principal banning her from school grounds after a confrontation earlier on the same day she raised her concerns.

“Two officers were out the front [of my house] and said, ‘We’re delivering a letter to you on behalf of the school’,” she said.

“Especially in front of my child — the eldest one and who can understand — it made me very distraught.

Investigators are also assessing a claim that a therapist had to search for keys to be able to reach Yianni Ferekos inside the room on a separate occasion.

In October, after Ms Ferekos raised her concerns, a newsletter was issued to parents informing them that the room was being expanded and the locks were to be removed.

The school’s principal has since been stood aside and another teacher placed on separate duties, pending the full investigation.

A school sign.
A photograph shows a lock on the door of the “sensory room”.(ABC News: Josh Bavas)

Warning letter ‘not appropriate’

Deputy Secretary of NSW Department of Education, Murat Dizdar said a new leadership team had been brought into the school while the investigation was underway.

“These serious allegations point to the fact the departmental policy and procedures appear to have not been followed and we need to allow that thorough investigation to take place.”

Mr Dizdar said the department would apologise to the family for the way they were treated.

“When we became aware of that, our view is that that has again breached departmental policy and procedure in this particular instance.

A woman and a man.
The Education department will apologise to Katerina and Bill Ferekos.(ABC News: Josh Bavas)

He said the department had rescinded that warning letter as it was “not appropriate in this case”.

“We do apologise to the family concerned, it should not have been issued.

“NSW Police were simply doing their work but the department takes full responsibility for the actions in this case.”

Ms Rogerson said the case sent a “terrible message” to other kids in the class about how children with a disability should be treated and should be highlighted as a warning for other schools.

“There are so many techniques that could have been used to make this situation better,” she said.

“It’s really important to understand, this isn’t just an isolated case, these cases happen all across the country.”

Parents often feel like ‘their child isn’t welcome’

The chief executive of Autism Awareness Australia Nicole Rogerson said allegations of mistreatment were becoming far too common and wants state education departments to take note.

“We know very well about good inclusive education practices,” she said.

“There’s a lot of research to support it, we know how to do it, it just doesn’t mean it’s being rolled out at the school level.”

She said parents often did not know how to raise concerns if they believed their children were being mistreated.

“Often times a parent wants their child to go to the local school and, depending on how they’re managed, that parent often feels like their child isn’t welcome, they’re not wanted there in that school.

“It makes it very difficult for the parent and principal relationship to be even if the family feels that their child is being mistreated.”

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Gold Coast school locked down after man points gel blaster at police

A man remains on the run after he pointed a gel blaster at police, resulting in a Gold Coast street and nearby school being locked down on Thursday.

Police were initially called to a disturbance at an apartment complex on the Gold Coast Highway about 12.30pm.

The scene in Sunshine Parade in the Gold Coast suburb of Miami on Thursday afternoon.Credit:Nine News Gold Coast – Twitter

However, the caller did not want to talk to police when they arrived, but subsequent inquiries led officers to a residence on Sunshine Parade in Miami.

Police said the man at the centre of the incident, who is known to officers, pointed a gel blaster at them when they confronted him at the Sunshine Parade home.

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Ogilvie High School students lament end of girls school set to merge with boys after 57 years

Hobart’s Eli Cropp is the product of Tasmania’s only public all-girls school and is now into her third year of studying medicine.

She believes the start she got at the single-sex Ogilvie High School set her up to succeed.

“One of the best things about my time at Ogilvie was, as a girl, I didn’t see any barriers to what women could become or go on to achieve,” she said.

“Girls could do physics, woodwork, football, without any social pressure.

“Ogilvie girls have gone on to become lawyers, politicians, Rhodes scholars.”

The Tasmanian Government’s announcement on Tuesday that Ogilvie would merge with all-boys New Town High School was greeted happily by some, but left others unconvinced about the merits.

“I hope this announcement doesn’t detract from a really proud legacy of educating girls,” Ms Cropp said.

Some students mourned the loss of single-sex classes.(Supplied: Ogilvie High School)

But Ogilvie High School principal Duncan Groves believed his students were up to the challenge.

“There’s going to be a mixed bag of emotions.

“You’ll get some people that will welcome the change and the opportunities that change will bring to the students but you will still have some members of the greater Hobart community that will mourn the loss of single-sex education in Hobart.”

Some of his students mourned the news.

“For me, it’s probably not something I’d really like because I feel really comfortable with all the girls,” one student told ABC Radio Hobart.

“I feel more positive with just the girls because at this age we kind of feel a bit nervous around the other gender,” another said.

The decision was given the thumbs up by many of the boys at New Town High.

“Sounds pretty exciting, bit of fun, new people and friends, a whole new environment,” said one.

“I think it’s really, really, really great. It mirrors society and needs to happen,” said another.

Hobart's Ogilvie High School
Hobart public girls’ school, Ogilvie High School.(ABC News)

The move will mean parents wanting single-sex education for their children will now have to turn to the private sector.

Parents vented misgivings about the move on the ABC Hobart Facebook page.

“Terrible decision. Some courses have been combined for years, but some students do NOT do well in co-ed high schools. Shame,” posted Keitha Granville.

“These two schools do so well academically and sports wise that there really seems no reason to do this,” wrote Meghan Buregel.

“Not everyone can afford private schools,” said Carol Chapman.

But others were supportive.

“They are best to get used to the way life will be outside of school,” said Elizabeth Hollis.

Single-sex schools no longer a positive for girls

Associate Professor in Education Judith Gill said the long-standing argument that girls were more suited to single-sex schooling had become redundant.

“However, there have been a great many changes in the way our society works and the way younger people understand their roles.”

The Adelaide academic said many girls today relished learning alongside boys.

“After all, we’re going to see them graduate into a world in which girls may be put in managerial positions and be in charge of males as well as females … so learning a bit more about the other seems to be something that too often in single-sex environments gets forgotten about.”

New Town High principal Dave Kilpatrick said single-sex classes were a possibility under the future model.

A balding man in a suit stands in the hallway of a school
Mr Kilpatrick says there will still be capacity for single-sex classes if deemed appropriate.(ABC News: Alexandra Alvaro)

“If it makes more sense for girls to be doing physical education on their own or boys doing physical education on their own, then that might be part of the design,” he said.

Announcing the decision, Tasmania’s Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said more than 90 per cent of the greater Hobart community consulted were in favour.

It would alleviate pressure on an oversubscribed Taroona High School, he said, and neutralise the need for a costly new inner-city high school.

A report commissioned by the Government outlined an increased push across Australia for boys to learn alongside girls.

It acknowledged all-girls schools were “still considered beneficial in terms of confidence and participation” but that the trend was “for parents to seek co-educational options for their boys”.

The report also detailed the notion of a “dream school” in which Ogilvie, New Town and Elizabeth College, in the city, would operate as one school with three campuses — one for grades 7 and 8, another for grades 9 and 10, and the current college campus to continue catering to years 11 and 12.

Exterior of New Town High School, Tasmania.
New Town High School will merge with the girls school.(Facebook: New Town High School)

The Government has allocated $150,000 in the 2020-21 State Budget for the development of a masterplan.

President of the Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations Jared Dickason said merging the schools, rather than building a new one, was the right move.

“At the end of the day, there’s only so much money that can be put into education and if we continue to put it into bricks and mortar, are we actually putting it into education?”

Caution urged in transition

Ogilvie High School was opened in 1937 as the New Town Commercial High School and taught both boys and girls.

Madeleine Ogilvie stands outside Parliament
The school was founded by MP Madeleine Ogilvie’s great-uncle.(ABC News: Brian Tegg)

In 1963 it became an all-girls school.

“The idea was to make sure that girls in the public sector had access to that single-sex education,” said Tasmanian independent MP Madeleine Ogilvie, whose great-uncle founded the school.

She said it should be a cautious transition.

“I think it’s really important we recognise there is a demand for education in Hobart that’s unmet,” she said.

“We’ve got Taroona full as a boot, we’ve got Mt Nelson Primary which has doubled in size … and I’m all for using existing assets.

“What we need to do is make sure there are no negative impacts on women’s education.”

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One new coronavirus case identified in Adelaide school student, SA Health says

A student at an Adelaide high school has tested positive to COVID-19, South Australian health authorities say.

SA Health issued an alert at 7:30pm on Wednesday, confirming the female Woodville High School student had returned a positive test.

Anyone who attended the school on Monday, November 23, has been told to “isolate immediately with all members of their household until further notice”.

Further advice will be provided to staff, students and their families and caregivers “as soon as possible”, the health alert read.

Woodville High will be closed tomorrow for cleaning and to allow SA Health staff to conduct contact tracing and a risk assessment.

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms is being urged to seek testing as soon as possible.

More to come.

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Morrison urges China and US to ease tensions; Teen charged after Sydney school stabbing; Qantas boss says COVID vaccine will be compulsory on international flights

A man wearing a Trump shirt and an inflatable Trump innertube around his belly who was seen on video deliberately exhaling on two women outside of President Donald Trump’s golf course in Virginia has been charged with simple assault.

Raymond Deskins, 61, of Sterling, Virginia, was charged with misdemeanour simple assault, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

One of the women shot mobile phone video of Saturday’s incident outside Trump’s club in Sterling and posted it on social media.

Michele Bowman, public information officer for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed to CNN that Raymond Deskins, the man charged, is the man seen in the video.

A file photo of President Donald Trump playing golf at his course in Virginia.

CNN has been unable to reach Deskins despite multiple attempts.

In the 24-second video, Deskins – who was not wearing a mask – can be seen in a verbal confrontation with the women who were there protesting Trump. It is not apparent what happened before the video began.

The women can be heard telling him to get away from them and back up. One of the women yelled at him, “Get away from me! Get away from me!”

The other woman told him, “You don’t get up in somebody’s face,” to which he responded, “I’m not in anybody’s face.” She replied, “You are in my face – and you don’t have a mask, so you need to back up.”

That’s when the man can be seen exhaling forcefully, apparently in the direction of one of the women. The women gasped in shock as the man turned around with a smirk on his face.

One of the women yelled, “That’s assault!”The man yelled back, “I breathed on you!” He then exhaled on the woman taking the video.

“Two separate parties reported they were assaulted during a verbal argument outside of Trump National Golf Club,” the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

“As the incident was not witnessed by law enforcement and the video did not capture the entire interaction, an investigation was conducted on scene and both parties were advised they could go to a Loudoun County Magistrate and seek a citizen obtained warrant.”

LCSO later updated their statement to say, “This afternoon our deputies served a warrant obtained by a citizen through a Loudoun County Magistrate. Raymond Deskins, age 61, of Sterling, VA, was charged with simple assault (misdemeanour) and released on a summons.”

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Goulburn High School holds Mini STEM Hook Day | Goulburn Post

community, Goulburn High School, STEM, iSTEM, STEM Industry School Partnerships, SISP

Students from Goulburn High School’s Year 7 and 8 enrichment science class battled it out against each other last week at the Mini STEM Hook Day. It involved students understanding the iSTEM process and competing against one another in small groups. Teacher and organiser Belinda McLean said the idea behind the iSTEM process was for students to come up with a design and then evaluate their design to see where improvements could be made before making a final recording of their results. The day was run by STEM Industry School Partnerships (SISP) and students faced different challenges throughout the day. These included: Students were scored on the following factors when completing their challenges including ability to work as a team and evaluate the iSTEM process: The team which finished first was Rashad, Lachlan, Nic and Baedon. Second was Frey, Joshua, Abigail and Lucas Wybrow. In third was Abigail, Madeline, Chloe and Makayla. Ms McLean thanked SISP staff Ingrid Clements, Louise Bennett and Camilla Staff for their organisation and planning of the day’s challenges and the prizes presented to the students. We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.


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Embedding literacy coaches ‘absolute gold’ for one Tasmanian primary school

A primary school in Hobart’s northern suburbs has dramatically improved its students’ literacy by blending innovative ways of teaching with tried and true methods.

In 2016, senior staff at Rosetta Primary realised some students’ results were not improving as they should.

It sparked the curiosity of advanced skills teacher Deb Button — and her research and dedication have since led to a whole-of-school approach to teaching reading and spelling, including a method known as Multisensory Structured Language.

“It’s direct, explicit, it’s sequential, we constantly review what we do, and it also means they see it, they hear it and they feel it,” Ms Button said.

“When I say feel, I mean how it feels in your mouth when you say a word … and that improves what they hear, what they see, and how it comes out on paper.”

Part of its benefit was that it was more tangible to learners, Ms Button said.

Literacy coach and support teacher Deb Button says aspiration is key to improving literacy outcomes.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

“There’s not the — dare I say it — look, cover, write, check. ‘Here’s a worksheet, let’s have a test, we’ll do another test at the end of the week,'” she said.

“The reading and the spelling are so closely linked at the same time, so that means we hear it, we see it, we spell it … then we read it again.”

The model is promoted by the Australian Dyslexia Association, which notes the theory allows specially trained teachers to “adjust their teaching to meet the needs of the learners rather than expecting the learners to fit one way”.

Principal Deirdre Arendt said the results since implementing Multisensory Structured Language for students in grades one to three had blown her away.

“We’ve got students achieving across the board,” she said.

“Wherever they were at the beginning when they took this first assessment to the end of the year, it’s been well over a years’ growth of learning.

“That to us is absolute gold.”

Results a source of pride for Toby

A primary school boy smiles at the camera
Rosetta Primary School student Toby Shelton says he feels “very proud” about his progress.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Students appear to enjoy the new approach.

Toby Shelton, a seven-year-old in grade 1, said he struggled with “big, long words” but had learned to sound them out by “chopping” them into syllables.

“So you can say the first bit and the second bit and the third bit and the fourth bit. Then you can put it all together and say it in one big go,” he said.

“Long words kind of confuse me sometimes, but now I can see how it’s made up.”

Toby said it felt good to be able to read well compared to when he was “blind for words”. His favourite book is one on the Titanic, the Hindenburg and Boeing 747s.

Ms Button, just one of Rosetta Primary’s literacy coaches, said families were involved in their children’s learning too.

“I’ve had one parent say, ‘If only they’d done this when I was at school,'” she said.

“We’ve seen students who were not confident before who are willing to come and read, and the amount they’re reading has improved too … some of them are so hooked into reading, and we didn’t see that before.”

Annabel Graham is another grade 1 student benefiting from Rosetta Primary’s new approach.

She loves reading about dinosaurs and hopes to one day become a teacher.

“Because then I can teach students stuff that I’ve learned so there’ll be lots of smart people in the world,” she said.

Ms Button said aspiration was key: “By having that there, they all have a chance to succeed at a much higher level than they might’ve before.”

Improving literacy ‘a slow process’

A middle-aged woman sits in a classroom with two young students
Deb Button helps grade 3 students Sam Clifford (left) and Lasharne O’Brien with their literacy skills.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Tasmania’s public schools are allowed to choose their own methods of teaching in line with the Australian curriculum.

The state’s Education Department last year launched a Literacy Framework and Plan for Action, with the Government also pledging to allow all government schools access to literacy coaches.

Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff has set a target of 100 per cent functional literacy.

According to adult education service 26TEN, the existing figure among adults is about half that — in other words, 48 per cent of Tasmanians do not have the literacy and numeracy skills they need to live in a technologically driven society.

A review into the 26TEN service released this year said people with higher levels of literacy had a longer life expectancy.

“Accept that improving adult literacy is a slow process; with this in mind, the longer-term support and funding provided by the State Government is essential and represents persistence and sustainability,” the report said.

Ms Arendt, from Rosetta Primary, said paying for professional learning and the requisite relief teachers had not come cheap — but said it was more than worth it.

“If other schools are interested in doing a journey similar to ours, we’re more than happy to support and help in whatever ways we can,” she said.

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JOB CUTS: Claims 10 staff could be lost to mega school

A TEACHER’S trade union has claimed delayed job cuts would be in store for the mega Murwillumbah school development despite assurances to the contrary by the Department of Education.

The NSW Teachers Federation says once standard staffing ratios are applied to the four school amalgamation project, more than 10 teachers will be out of a job.

It’s a statement the Department of Education refutes, touting no permanent staff will lose their jobs with the education Minister Sarah Mitchell adamant misinformation is clouding the community’s eyes to a “world class education facility”.

After a visit to the Tweed township this week, NSW Teachers Federation deputy president Henry Rajendra explained once a three-year moratorium on staffing changes passed, there is nothing to stop cuts.

He said the union had negotiated a standard halt on job losses during other school builds in the state, meaning from the time of the announcement to three years after the school opens – no permanent staff would loose their positions.


Murwillumbah Teachers Association president Sonia Bertram, Tweed Mayor Chris Cherry, NSW Teachers Federation deputy president Henry Rajendra and Tweed Deputy Mayor Reece Byrnes in Murwillumbah this week.

“You would be looking to lose one teacher in the primary school, a principal, a deputy principal and a teacher librarian. In the high school you would also loose a principal, two head teachers, a teacher librarian, career Adviser which would mean quite possibly 11 classroom positions gone.”

Mr Rajendra said once the moratorium period had passed, staff might not lose employment but their position would be allocated to another school to coincide with student to teacher ratios.

“That has a major impact on what a school can deliver in terms of curriculum,” he said.

“We are looking for assurances to stop staff slashing forever.”

A Department of Education spokesman said the new Murwillumbah Education Campus will include a separate primary school and high school.

“No permanent staff will lose their jobs, and class sizes will be consistent with standard department processes,” the spokesman said.

“Students will benefit from new health, sporting and community facilities. Opportunities to place a health hub in the school will give students direct access to the support they need.”

Mr Rajendra also echoed complaints of community stakeholders who wanted more consultation before the shock announcement last fortnight, concerns over larger class sizes and a firm promise the land of the three shutting schools will not be sold off.

A department spokesman said research indicates school size is not the primary strategy for student success, having a small effect size, and that the most significant ‘in school’ factor is the quality of the teaching.

“Part of the advantage of this new setting is that there will be new opportunities to enhance teacher capacity and collaboration. This will positively impact student subject choice, engagement and learning,” the spokesman said.

“The future of the existing school sites will be decided through consultation with the community.”

Ms Mitchell said the community will have access to a world class education campus vastly surpassing anything that currently exists.

“Unfortunately, for the community of Murwillumbah, a lot of misinformation is circulating. I encourage everyone to engage with the information sessions being run by the Department to receive accurate information.”





  • A virtual information room about the project is open online until 12pm on November 23 and can be found at
  • An Education Department spokesman confirmed more consultation and workshops will follow the virtual information room.

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