Creating own community

May 16, 2018

Zeerust Primary School principal Peter Farrell.

Head 10 minutes’ drive north of Shepparton and you will find another small school facing big changes.

Peter Farrell has been the principal at Zeerust Primary School for 16 years and has just 14 students enrolled.

‘‘Most of our kids actually come from somewhere else, rather than Zeerust,’’ he said.

‘‘The clear change over the years has been farms.

‘‘The farm kids were locals but that seems to have died off with less dairy farming.’’

Dr Farrell used to worry about trying to get children from the local area, but realised he needed to change his mindset.

‘‘There is no town here, the school stands alone, so we had to create our own community.

‘‘Now, our community flies in and out.’’

Dr Farrell believes small schools give students the chance to excel, particularly with younger students given many of the same opportunities as older ones.

‘‘At smaller schools you tend to follow your passions,’’ Dr Farrell said.

‘‘No-one slips through the cracks.’’

Harston Primary School principal Owen Holleran said many people believed socialisation was an issue for students in smaller schools, however due to technology his students were able to connect with people from anywhere across the globe.

‘‘I just get disappointed when people don’t support their community,’’ he said.

‘‘I want to make sure my staff are employed and they can keep doing good things.’’

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