No special treatment


No special treatment

By Jane Ross
THE new $3.5 million Bass Coast Specialist School has been dropped like a hot spud by the State Government.
There are few students and insufficient funding.
The school has no bus for outings, no fixed play equipment, no trees, no shade and is relying on service clubs and the community for help.
Bass MLA Ken Smith is appalled and has slammed “State Government incompetence”.
Parent Jenyne Whyte is bitterly disappointed.
She moved to the area from Melbourne, largely on the strength of the school, which opened in Wonthaggi late last year.
She told The Star that she thought her family would have a better life in the country and when she found out about the Bass Coast Specialist School, she felt her dream had come true.
But now she is trying to cope with a son with special needs and raise Cain about the school’s situation.
“It’s not the teachers’ fault,” she declared. “But I never expected it to be like this.”
The daily drama starts in the mornings when her son has to catch a bus. It’s not a door-to-door service and she frets constantly about the dangers of trying to keep him under control beside a busy highway.
Ms Whyte said the school, in McKenzie Street, has nowhere for its students to sit outside and there are no trees.
“It’s just an empty yard; they look like they’re caged in a grassed area.
“The only piece of play equipment is a trampoline that the school bought. Balls have been donated but there is no fixed equipment. Students with special needs really need that.”
Someone has donated bicycles, but one of the 20 students cannot ride a two-wheeler so can’t take part in bike education.
“Apparently the school wasn’t signed off in time.
“It’s pathetic, it really is.
“I don’t know how the government could open it and call it a school.
“I’m just trying to fight for the school. I find it’s absolutely ridiculous.
“It’s really important for students with high needs to get out and about in the community and because the school has no bus, when it comes to activities, we have to pay for everything.”
And that’s not what Ms Whyte was used to in Melbourne.
Ken Smith is so angry that the staff and school community have been left high and dry, he has called on the Shadow Minister for Education Martin Dixon to come on March 31, to talk to staff and parents.
“These children face hurdles every day,” said Mr Smith.
“It is wrong that they are not being provided with the best educational
He said the new school was finished early last year, ready to cater for up to 84 students with intellectual disabilities ranging from mild to profound in years Prep to 12.
“In an appalling example of mismanagement, the government built this impressive new facility but ‘forgot’ to carry out the registration processes in time for the opening.”
This meant the facility couldn’t take students until term four last year.
Mr Smith said funding for equipment, furnishing and other resources is allocated on the number of students at the school and their degree of disability.
He blames the delayed opening for the small number of pupils.
Ms Whyte agrees with Mr Smith that it is hard to fathom how the school can grow because parents are less likely to send their children to a hub that is grossly under-equipped.
“Worse,” said the politician, “there are not enough resources at the school to give the students the education they deserve.”
He, too, said the situation was no reflection on staff.
An initial grant of $120,000 was spent on teaching resources, some computers, supplies and other equipment, but was not nearly enough.
“The outdoor recreation areas are a wasteland.”

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Posted by SiteAdmin on Mar 23 2010. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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