Super school protesters demand transition period halts

By Morgan Dyer

A deflated crowd of Stop Shepparton Super School protesters did their best to cause commotion along Wyndham St, Shepparton yesterday.

Starting at State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed's office, protesters young and old shouted, “we’re no fools save our schools” and “what’s our mission, stop transition” until they reached Queens Gardens.

Event organiser Robyn Boschetti said the low number of protesters may have been due to people being away during school holidays.

“We are going to continue our protests until that first brick is laid, we aren’t going away Mr Merlino,” Ms Boschetti, said referring to education minister James Merlino.

Another person away at the time of the protest was Ms Sheed.“It’s a bit disappointing she’s not here again, she won’t come and meet with us,” Ms Boschetti said.

“It’s sad because we were the ones that elected her.I want Suzanna to sit down and have a meeting with us… she's just ignoring us,” she said.

Although the state government is continuing to give the project the green light, Ms Boschetti said she wanted the government to stop the project's transition phase, set to begin next year.

“At least stop the transition phase and come and talk to us about what the Shepparton community want for their children’s education,” Ms Boschetti said.

“We don’t want one school for 3000 students,” she said.

As protesters booed Ms Sheed, Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell was applauded for her attendance at the rally.

Ms Lovell told protesters that, “Suzanna Sheed is premier Daniel Andrews' mouth piece”.

“I back investment in education in this town, but it needs to be the right investment in education and I’ve had hundreds of parents come to me very concerned about the plan that has been forced on them,” Ms Lovell said.

“The consultation around this plan was flawed.

“It’s unfortunate that the government isn’t prepared to listen because this plan is being imposed on this town, it's being done to them not for them,” she said.

Ms Lovell would like to see the new curriculum the government has developed for the Super School, to be implemented in the existing four high schools.

“It’s not about bricks and mortars that make a better education, it’s about what goes on in the classroom,” Ms Lovell said.

“So implement the new curriculum and then have better consultation with our community about what the town wants,” she said.

Protesters young and old caused commotion in Shepparton on Friday morning. 

However, Committee for Greater Shepparton chief executive Sam Birrell said the business community were desperate to see better educational outcomes in the region.

“There’s a lot of moving parts to the school and the transition period worries a lot of people.

“That’s why we have lobbied very hard to the Premier to ensure the school will be built as soon as possible,” Mr Birrell said.

“The model is not a guarantee of success, nor is it flawed from the start.

“It provides an opportunity.

“The new buildings and the revamped structure give an improved physical environment which our students deserve and have deserved for some time,” he said.

Shepparton father of two Alan Mitchell had also been actively following the Super School development for the future of his young family’s education.

“Stats show we are in steady decline, if we keep doing the same thing nothing will change,” Mr Mitchell said.

“I’m at a loss to understand why people don’t want this plan as it’s such a big investment in education and one that will bring a state-of-the-art centre to Shepparton.

“I hope it's not an argument about logistics and about changing the current environment because the problem is broader than that – it’s about education,” he said.

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