The schools where 63 per cent of Australians are educated deserve better

In an address at Melbourne High School last Tuesday night, the former High Court Justice Michael Kirby said that he is fed up with government neglect of public schools, especially while private schools get extra public money.
The schools where 63 per cent of Australians are educated deserve better, and the time has come for all citizens to make it clear that they demand an end to the under-funding of public education, where the future of our nation will chiefly be written," he said.
He also urged parents and citizens in public schools to learn the art of advocacy. We need to blog (tick), Twitter, text, lobby (tick) and argue (tick).

As we move into the next phase of our campaign, High School for Coburg are looking to extend our use of social media, perhaps using Facebook and/or Twitter. If you are interested in these forms of communication and would like to help with this part of the campaign in particular, please contact us.

To listen to or read a more detailed account of Justice Kirby's speech, go to ABC online here.

Where will your children go to high school?

At the HSC Q & A night, a survey was launched to establish parental attitudes and intentions regarding current secondary education options available to the greater Coburg community (including Coburg and West Preston).

The survey was availble to complete at the Q & A night and then online. In total, 265 surveys were returned, covering 535 school age children. While the survey is by no means exhaustive, the main results are so strong that HSC believe it serves as an indicator of parental attitudes and highlights the very difficult choices that parents in Coburg and West Preston need to make regarding their childrens secondary education.

Click through below to read, download or email this survey.

High School for Coburg Survey Report October 2009

At the end of the survey, you can read what parents wrote in response to the open ended questions, giving a real insight into what people are thinking.

What are your thoughts? 

Where will your children go to high school?

Emails to the education department

So we can strengthen our case for a new local secondary school,  HSC asked the Education department for some extra statistics. The email below was sent on 14 October 2009.

Dear Krys and Peter,

Thank you again for your time and attention at the meeting with Christine Campbell MP, Moreland council, Coburg primary and HSC.
I am writing on behalf of HSC to formally request the release of the following documents to HSC .

1) Provision Plan for the Coburg community ( As referred to in Bronwyn Pike MP's letter 26 May 2009, scanned copy available if necessary)
2) Enrolment data for Coburg SLA primary schools, West Preston schools-namely Bell, Newlands and Preston West and Brunswick East primary.
3) Exit data from the same schools showing which high schools the year 6 students have gone to.
4) When completed, the postcode analysis of the schools above which we thank you for agreeing to undertake .

At an earlier meeting with HSC you stated that the onus is on HSC to make the case for a high school for Coburg and as such we require access to the above data.
Information HSC have recently obtained and are able to offer the department in order to assist you in determining local community educational needs includes:
  • Catholic primary enrolment data and exit figures for Catholic grade 6 entering state high schools in 2009 West Preston population data.
  • Once released -The HSC survey including comprehensive verbatim responses from parents representing 556 children .
We respectfully ask that you please reply within a week acknowledging receipt of this request and that the data above (excluding the post code analysis) be made available by the end of October .

 Kind Regards

Cate Hall

On the same day we received this reply

Hi Cate

Due to current urgent projects currently being undertaken at the regional and school levels we are not able to provide information to meet your requested timelines.

Will provide when time permits

Peter Enright

On 15 October 2009, we responded as follows...

Hi Peter

Thanks for your quick reply.

I do understand that you must be very busy with the with the re-branding ,stimulus spending etc etc.

In the meantime could we please have the data that is easily accessable and emailable?

By this I mean:

Exit data showing which high schools year 6 are going to in 2010 for Coburg SLA, West Preston and Brunswick East. Krys said this data would be ready for the HSC/dept. meeting 17 Aug but we didn't get around to discussing it as the main topics ended up being enrolments and population data.

Primary school enrolment data and projections for Coburg SLA plus West Preston and Brunswick East. These I presume are also easy to email as they appeared to be on a printout at our last two meetings

You may not have this data for the Bell and Preston West primaries yet but you do have the other West Preston school -Newlands.

So we will gladly take what you have at this stage.

Thanks again.

Cate Hall

The numbers stack up so where is the planning for a High School for Coburg?

by Darren Saffin
The suburbs of Coburg and Coburg North meet the new Precinct Structure Plan guidelines for outer suburban developments announced by The Hon Minister for Planning Justin Madden MP.*

The suburbs have a combined population of over 30,800 (2006 ABS Census) not to mention the other suburbs in any new state secondary school catchment zone. The obvious difference is Coburg is not an outer suburban development, but Coburg has the greatest population growth in children of all suburbs in Moreland (iD Forecast population projections) and has the Coburg Initiative, Pentridge Prison development and old Kodak factory site development. All of which mean the continued growth of secondary school age children and a very real lack of local community options for secondary school education – an education blackhole.

Public consultation has begun for the development of the former Maribyrnong Defence Site, which Justin Madden has already said will contain schools. Meanwhile in Alphington, the Government is set to negotiate with developers to buy land to build a local government secondary school. These are both commendable actions. Where is the same consideration for Coburg and surrounds which have a great need already and more growth forecast? It is hard not to be cynical with a state election coming up and seeing the safest Labour seat in Melbourne being neglected while vote buying happens around it.

*The new Precinct Structure Plan guidelines for outer suburban developments state that for populations up to 30,000 the plan should provide space for a government secondary school. See Growth Areas Authority - Part Two - Page 31 - Key Principles for Designing Integrated Community Facilities.

City of Moreland birthrates continue to rise

Moreland Birth rates went up again in this last financial year by 1.2% (from 2008). According to Robyn Mitchell at the City of Moreland,
This means birth rates have increased by 21.35% since 2001. Talking to other municipalities around Melbourne it seems this has been a bit of a trend - and if that is the case, it means the ability of surrounding municipalities to take Moreland's high school overflow is going to be severely compromised.
According to the  Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) "Suburbs in time " for Coburg, in 2006, 0-4 yr olds were almost back at the level they were in the 1980's when there were many more schools in the area. As shown below, births have continued to rise since 2006 with Coburg having highest birth rate in Moreland.

DPCD population projections 0-19yrs, 2006-2026

ID consulting Projections, 0-19yrs, 2006 - 2031

There has also been a big increase in tertiary educated residents, these in large part are the families who do not want to have to migrate out due to the lack of a state secondary school (as has been the pattern in these parts to date) because they value this community. There has also been a decrease in families who would classify themselves as religious, leading to increase in demand for state education.

Large numbers of young people in Coburg Statistical Local Area (SLA) are hard to refute now given the similarity between Moreland's ID projections and the DPCD projections.West Preston numbers can be added to the Coburg SLA numbers for the full picture.

West Preston by Census Collection Districts, drawn from Australian Bureau of Statistics CDATA.

Age Group




0-4 years




5-9 years




10-14 years




15-19 years




0-19 years




The Education Department count Newlands Primary which is actually in West Preston but not Bell Primary or Preston West. HSC argue strongly for these to be included in any analysis of the need for a high school in Coburg. Furthermore if Newlands Primary is included then the population of the suburb surrounding should also be taken in to account in demographic analysis, not just the portion attending from Moreland. Conversely, the Darebin schools mentioned above are attended by many Coburg children so should be included in school enrolment data being considered regarding the need for a high school in Coburg.

The need and demand for a quality state open entry high school for the local community which is the Coburg SLA plus West Preston is here now and will definitely be sustained into the future.

Looking for secondary school students to be interviewed by Class TV

Class TV is a television show made by the students at Thornbury High School. They are interested in making a story on our push for a school and are looking for secondary school students to talk to about:
  • How far they have to travel to school
  • If they go to different secondary schools than friends from primary school
  • If it would be better to have a local high school
If you have any questions or if you know some students who can be interviewed by Class TV please contact us - or Darren Saffin 0411 089 209.

September update

Dear High School for Coburg Supporters,
Thank you for your support and assistance through the last busy month. There are currently over 1,500 supporters and together we are continuing to drive the goal of an open entry state secondary school for Coburg and surrounding areas.

New numbers show need for school
The good news is that last week the Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) released new population projections for Melbourne which support Moreland City Council's (MCC) own forecasts.
Both sets of numbers show most growth in the suburb of Coburg. Both are at odds with the Northern Region Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) projections which show growth mainly in the north of Moreland and much less over all.
Once more we see valid population projections supporting the need for a High School for Coburg. Where are the plans for one?
In the last week, the Government has been seen negotiating to build a school in a new housing development in Alphington. The same happened in Maribyrnong earlier this year.
Coburg demands the same planning and respect for our children. Email the Minister for Education, Bronwyn Pike and tell her what you think -

Meeting with DEECD and Christine Campbell
HSC attended the first of a series of meetings with Northern Region DEECD, Christine Campbell MP, school Principals and Moreland City Council.
Christine reiterated her call for Year 7 intake in 2011 at the Coburg Senior High School.
Everyone present also explained the level of public demand for a high school and the high numbers of families leaving or considering leaving the area (or have left already) because there is no school.
To help reinforce that case to the Department of Education:
• If you are in this situation (or know someone who is) and are willing to have your details recorded, please email us at –
• Please fill in our online survey by the end of the September school holidays. We are getting very strong results but the more the better!

Coburg misses out on spending on secondary schools
In the Moreland Leader was mention of huge spending planned for Box Forest and Fawkner secondary schools including new subsidised uniforms. There is also a push for spending at Brunswick Secondary College to cater for more students.
This contrasts starkly with NO planning or spending on secondary education in Coburg.
Make your voice heard on this important issue. Email the Minister for Education, Bronwyn Pike and tell her we deserve better -
Also let your local member know how you feel and make sure we get a local high school:
Christine Campbell, Member for Pascoe Vale -
Carlo Carli, Member for Brunswick -
Robin Scott, Member for Preston -

Email us:
Call us:
Denis Matson JP: 0419 747 748
Cate Hall: 9354 3053
Morena Milani: 9025 0839

Letter from Christine Campbell to the Moreland Leader

The letter below is from Christine Campbell MP to the editor of the Moreland Leader, clarifying her position and calling for Year 7 to commence at Coburg Senior High School. You can view the original letter here.

September 8

The Editor
Moreland Leader
Fax:9481 2083

Dear Editor,

I wish to clarify for your reader, my call for Coburg Senior High School to be expanded to a 7-12 years secondary school. When CSHS opened in 2007 the initial three year plan was for 900 students in years 10-12 by 2010 - this equates to 300 students per year level. School facilities have been designed and developed accordingly. The schools website shows the latest enrolment figure as 207.

I have been advised that Department of Education guidelines require a critical mass of 200 students per year level for a new school to be considered. Analysis by Moreland City Council of population projection data supports the need for a high school but analysis of the same data by the Department of Education concludes that there is not a need. It is vital that we have the correct figures.

Currently, based on the most conservative analysis of the figures, there would be enough year 7 students seeking enrolment at a Coburg high school in 2011 to establish at least two classes, an approach consistent with the process approved by the education department for the commencement of CSHS. As with CSHS, the number of classes in subsequent years would increase. Incidentally, this would also assist VCE numbers at CSHS.

It can be concluded that with so much space already available at Coburg Senior High School and the Department's previous flexibility with their enrolment guidelines that the opportunity is there to meet the needs of the community. It would follow that Year would start in 2012 and Year 9 in 2013. The existing facilities are brand new, state of the art and designed to be expanded as enrolments require.

This is why I have written to the Minister for Education requesting that provisions be made for a Year 7 intake in January 2011 at the current CSHS site.

My constituents, particularly those in Coburg and many in Pascoe Vale are not eligible for enrolment in their closest secondary school and Pascoe Vale Girls College is under considerable pressure with a long waiting list. I will continue to bring my constituents' concerns to the Minister's attention.

Yours sincerely

Hon Christine Campbell
Member for Pascoe Vale

School zones

by Darren Saffin

It is time to clear up the issue of school zones that has been muddying the waters recently in the Moreland Leader. Carlo Carli says in his letter to the Moreland Leader that right now different schools are having their pick of students from outside their zones and drawing many local students away (of course because there is no local school). He then talks about parents losing their rights to send their children to other schools if a new Coburg High School was to be built because zones would change.

On the website of the Department of Education is a resource called The Victorian Government Schools Reference Guide. In section 4.1 are the guidelines to what schools children can attend - It in no way, shape or form denies any child the right to apply to attend any school anywhere in Melbourne.

Section says:

A child resident in the neighbourhood area has a right to attend the school if that is the wish of the parents/guardians. If the parents/guardians do not wish the child to attend either the neighbourhood school or the same school being attended by a brother or sister who resides at the same address, they have the right to choose any other school in which space is available.

A new school in Coburg won’t change this fact or affect parent’s rights and will offer another choice for parents. Parents can apply to send their children to any school and the children will be able to attend any school they are accepted into.

End of story.

Online comments in the Moreland Leader

The online comments for the Moreland leader article - HAVE YOUR SAY: Brunswick MP Carlo Carli slates Coburg high school bid - have been running hot over the last two days. Interesting reading, I encourage everyone to visit and chime in.

Councillor Update from High School for Coburg

This is the text of an email sent by Catherine Hall to the Moreland Council on 23/08/09

Dear Mayor and councillors,

Thank you to councillors John Kavanagh, Toby Archer and Kathleen Mathews-Ward and to Barry Hahn for attending HSC Q&A on 19 Aug. Special thanks to Cr.Oscar Yildez for being a panelist on the night. Apologies if we missed any other councillors.

On being informed councillors are to have a meeting with Wayne Craig from the education department Northern Region we thought it best to give you a quick update.

Families supporting HSC 1,250

High School for Coburg (HSC) have had two meetings with the department to date. At the July one with Kyrs Hendrickson and Peter Enright it soon became apparent that their numbers were very different to council's projections. ID who did council's, predict the only significant growth in youth demographic is going to occur in Coburg, which already has the greatest number of young people in Moreland. The department's demographers say the growth is going to be in the north of Moreland and don't predict anywhere near the same growth. HSC directed them to Robyn Mitchell, council research officer to verify the numbers we are using and they agreed to meet us again and review the discrepancy. When we met with them on 17 Aug we reiterated that ID have the best record for projecting accurately compared with ABS and DSE and are the only company that comes to council to do local research for their projections. The department response was to say that ID come and see what council want and gear the results that way because they want the work.

Apart from being a slur on ID and indirectly, the council this is a flawed supposition because why would council want inflated projections? This would entail expensive preparation for provision of services that aren't required. Also it doesn't explain the excellent record ID have for accuracy and the fact that 95% of councils use them.Example of projections done by the dept demographers: Moreland population will increase by 4,000 by 2031.This is patently extremely underestimated because there are 16,000 new homes estimated to be built in that time.

We say the numbers are here in the Coburg area now and even more so into the future.

HSC applauds work being done at Box Forest and Fawkner high schools to increase profile and enrolments and this should help enrich those communities however indicating that there are spaces at those far away schools is not a blow to the campaign for a high school for this community. I imagine there are also plenty of spaces at the Coburg Senior High site.

There has been an idea put forward from a certain political quarter that the HSC campaign will work against Brunswick high school's submission for funding to enable 150 extra places.We do not wish to get into an either/or scenario but if forced into that corner, I will make a very big noise about the numbers for high school aged young people below:

12 -17 year olds in 2006 /2016 /2031.

The 2006 number is indisputable ABS, the next two are ID forecast projections.

Brunswick 739 / 807 / 883
Coburg 1,509 / 1,795 / 2,020

This school is very big, has just decided they want to cap preps at 100 and the school council has voted in support of HSC. The department do not include it in their calculations but it is part of this community needing a high school. Coburg West Primary, which is beyond capacity, capped and zoned is the most represented school in HSC working party and furnished us with 100's of supporters at their fete. Brunswick East Primary parents are also big supporters and Carlo Carli has said that the increases in Brunswick primary enrolments are mainly Coburg families.

This is to illustrate to you the large area we represent which contains families considering moving away because their community has no high school. We will be able to show you evidence of that once our survey has been input and analysed and we thank council for assisting with that process.

Kind Regards and apologies for lengthy email,
Catherine Hall

Chris Bonnor's speech from the HSC Q&A

If you were at our Q&A (or even if you weren't) and you want to know why a local school for the local community is so important, please read our keynote speaker's address below.

Chris Bonnor
Chris Bonnor

A couple of years ago I wrote a book with Jane Caro called The Stupid Country, how Australia is dismantling public education. We started with a fictitious letter from a principal to Year 6 parents saying in effect: if you want to enrol here you best be quick, because there are now fewer public high schools nearby.

Jane and I thought we were guessing about the future – but this future has already arrived for you, here in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

We said that more and more people would be forced to knock on the door of schools that set an entry test, charge fees, teach a particular religion or schools, which for other reasons, would turn them away. What we long regarded as one of our birthrights, a quality, free local secondary school, is progressively becoming harder to find.

Communities and social capital
Like many of you I grew up in a community with just one school – and the community poured all its energies into making it a quality school. I know some things have changed. Yes, most of us live in dormitory suburbs where people sleep at night and go elsewhere to work during the day. Families pay a big enough price for that. Many working parents often don’t see their kids in daylight hours. They no longer make a contribution to their community because they are rarely in it. We see the evidence of loss of community in so many ways.

But it shouldn’t be like that for our kids. Their growing years should be years they spend in their local community, growing up with their friends, enjoying and contributing to the networks.

This is a big part of social capital: friendships, professional and vocational circles, clubs, neighborhoods, churches and various other networks - when we can bond with others and bridge across the social and cultural divides. In this way we provide mutual support and benefit from learning from each other – and we welcome strangers in our midst.

This is the stuff of democracy. Strong social capital helps us all and each of us individually. It creates higher educational achievement, better performing institutions, faster economic growth, less crime and violence in communities and even better health and longer life expectancy. You can’t easily put a dollar value on all of this but there are certainly dollar costs when we don’t have it.

The importance of community schools
Schools are a big part of this because local schools are a focus for our interests, values and expectations. Schools are increasingly the most reliable source of stability and social support for many children and families.

But the effectiveness of schools in these ways depends firstly whether they exist and secondly on whether they are strongly supported.

When students travel to attend a school somewhere else the focus of the student’s family shifts to the other community. In effect the social capital in the home community is transferred to someone else’s school and community. This is especially noticeable when the student commutes away from a disadvantaged community because families don’t want to mix it with strangers. When this happens some communities, and their schools especially, suffer.

The new marketplace
Over the last two decades Governments have shown that they don’t fully understand what a school is. In one sense you can’t blame them. They have been driven by numbers and the idea that the economic marketplace will solve all our problems: if people don’t want to use public transport then let’s build freeways. If people don’t want to attend a school just close it.

Education changed from being a community and social benefit to being an advantage for individuals. To help families make individual choices we have now created a lopsided provision of things which we see as being desirable: selective schools, senior colleges, single sex, specialist schools, private schools.

Governments were also told to butt out of providing services. Private providers would do it better, we were told. The irony is that we did all this to increase choice, but in the process denied some communities of the most important choice of all: an accessible quality public school. Governments were told to save money and never go into debt. So many schools were closed.

Every time it happened it was couched in the free-market language of choice, advantage, diversity and opportunity. It probably made you feel all warm and runny at the time. We now know what the unregulated and rampant free-market did to the world economy. It’s been a shock. The same focus has also damaged our framework of schools. There are now worrying social and cultural as well as educational divides between schools – and as a result, between communities. We are going to pay a price for this.

Dollars or sense?
But tonight gives cause for so much hope. Maybe we’ve all had a big enough shock to prod us back to valuing community and social good – and valuing everything that schools provide. Maybe when we open or close schools we’ll also look at all the benefits and costs. A school is more than just a place of learning, more than a VCE factory. It isn’t a branch plant of a business, to be given the flick at the first sign of red ink on the ledger book.

Do we really save when kids have to commute to bigger schools in more distant locations - or has the real cost neatly been flicked from governments to parents? How do we measure loss of family time and community cohesion and the longer term costs and benefits in dollar terms?

Sometimes we have to carry smaller schools and remember one of the basics of urban geography course 101, namely that towns and suburbs go through phases of growth and relative decline and in so many cases re-growth – and that in this time there are fundamental services which will always be needed. It might be enticing to sell off a school – but they are extremely expensive to re-establish.

When you seek to establish a new school, as you are, you gather the figures to show that there is strong local demand. But we also have to re-educate political leaders about the whole purpose of schools. They need to re-learn about social capital and the part played by schools in creating the bonding and bridging between people within our community. A whole generation of leaders and opinion-makers have forgotten these things.

Taken for granted
In one sense this campaign in Coburg and in other places shows that communities cannot be taken for granted. The wake-up call is not only needed for governments but for us. We can’t just assume that the people and institutions which create communities, and become the glue which binds them together, will always be there.

We can’t just allow education to become a commodity or product - something that you might have to purchase to gain a private advantage. We’ve taken our schools, especially our public schools, for granted and we have lost many of them.

Sure, some public schools also had to relearn the meaning of service and learn about the value in having parents as part of the life of the school. But much of it comes back to us: we use it or we lose it.

So congratulations to the high school for Coburg campaign on its notable achievements to date and, I’m sure, the promise of much more to come.

Chris Bonnor

HSC Q&A forum

by Denis Matson

Last night (19th August, 2009) about 170 people skipped dinner and found someone to care for the kids so that they could attend the High School for Coburg (HSC) forum at the Coburg Town Hall.

Chistine Campbell speaking at HSC Q&A
There is not one open-entry all-years high school between Brunswick Secondary College, which is bursting at the seams, and Box Forest College, miles away in Glenroy. The forum was a chance for parents in the area to exert pressure for the opening of a secondary school. While many parents want to have "choices" about the best school for their children, residents in & around Coburg don't have any choice.

Chris Bonnor, from University of New South Wales, made the trip to speak on the night. Chris is co-author of "The Stupid Country" about the dismantling of Australia's public education. He made a strong case for the government to improve its funding of public education and threw his weight behind the campaign.

Catherine Hall speaks for HSC
Angry parents responded to ridiculous statements from the Education Department about there being "insufficient demand" for a school in the area. Cate Hall, from the HSC committee, said that there were already nearly 4,000 secondary-school aged children in & around Coburg who had to travel out of the area to go to school.

The forum was chaired by Rod Quantock and speakers included comedian and columnist Catherine Deveney and local identity Phil Cleary, all of whom went to school in the area. Ex-Education Minister, Barry Pullen spoke and added his support. Barry was heavily involved in the successful campaign to re-open Fitzroy High.

Phil Cleary with the roving mike at question time

HSC representatives urged the large crowd to continue their vocal support for the campaign, which already has a subscriber list of more than 1,200 families. The HSC group has been lobbying the Education Minister, Bronwyn Pike, local politicians and the Education Department.

Join Education Minister Bronwyn Pike for a live Q&A 11:30am Wednesday 19 August.

Education Minister Bronwyn Pike is making herself available on line tomorrow for a live Q & A on the Premier’s website. This is a great opportunity (on the same day as our own Q&A session) to fire in your questions as to why there is still no all-years, open entry High School in Coburg. Please send in a question now or tune in tomorrow at 11.30am tomorrow.

Policy background to the HSC story

by Catherine Hall

The suburb of Coburg is at the epicentre of a big black hole with regards to inclusive, comprehensive secondary education. The northern metropolitan region contains 50% of the lowest socio-economic status (SES) government schools in Melbourne and Moreland has been ranked 7 in the top 10 disadvantaged suburbs. We know that successive government policies have resulted in a huge divide between rich and poor schools (see Stephen Lamb, School reform and Inequality in Urban Australia: A Case of Residualizing the Poor,2007)

The chart below shows how federal funding to private schools (the dark line) has been disproportionately greater than federal funding to government schools.

Figure 1: Commonwealth Government Recurrent Expenditure on Government and Private Schools: 1995-2004 ($’000,000)(see Stephen Lamb, 2007 page7)

Exposure to the free market has resulted in poor schools becoming small schools, further increasing the disadvantage. This needs to be turned around, with funding targeted where it is need most. The graph below shows the declining enrolments in poorer schools.

Figure 2: Changes in Mean School Enrolments, 1980-2004, by SES (quintile): Melbourne Secondary Schools with Enrolments in Every Year (see Stephen Lamb, 2007 page 19)

A recent survey by the The Equality Trust comparing 20 developed countries showed that those with the greatest divide between haves and have-nots had the worst social health outcomes, for example violent crime, teenage pregnancy, obesity and levels of trust across all levels of society, even in the upper and middle class (see the The SpritLevel: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, Richard L Wilkonson and Kate Pickett and as reported in The Age article on 20 April 2009 Shattering the myth of equality and again in The Age on 16 August 2009 Whatever Happened to the Classless Society?). According to the United Nations Development Programme, Australia is the fifth-most unequal developed country and unequal access to quality education is surely a big wedge in the equity gap. The whole community will benefit from the provision of a local, general access high school for the young people of the Coburg region.

Chris Bonnor , co-author with Jane Caro of The Stupid Country, Austalia's dismantling of public education, has shown that when a school is supported by all sectors of society, for example as happens in some remote country schools, it prospers (read Chris Bonnor at National Public Education Forum March 2009 -Schools and the Marketplace -fallacy and fallout for a description of such a school in Tumut). Closer to home, Debney Park Secondary College is an example of a school that has gone from one regarded by many as a "default school" for poor migrant families living in the nearby commission flats to a school that also attracts middle class parents, resulting in a more diverse school community and better educational outcomes for all the school's students. Read the full story of Debney Park's success here.

The High School for Coburg group believe that the families who have recently flocked to this region, including those with one or more tertiary educated parents, are very community minded and would strongly support a quality, all inclusive secondary school in Coburg in preference to crossing town for private education or moving to be closer to a public secondary school. Local state MP Christine Campbell's recent Intern's report showed 50% of grade 4 and 5 families who filled out her survey would choose a Coburg high school. We believe this school would be embraced by families from all walks of life, promoting social inclusion and providing local jobs and local spending. Reduction in car travel is also a more environmentally sustainable option. Helping to bridge the equity gap will result in better social, health and education outcomes for local students and the whole local community.

Can you help spread the word about the HSC Q&A forum?

Next Wednesday night, the 19th of August 2009, High School for Coburg are hosting a Questions and Answers, forum panel and discussion evening at Coburg Town Hall. Full details are here.

Our poster is available for download in English and in Greek on our resources page over here.

HSC Q&A poster

Please help us spread the word! Thank you.

July update

by Catherine Hall

The HSC working group have been everywhere! There are now 1,200 families on the contact list, with more being added every day!!

1) Awareness Campaign = Numbers = Action = High School for Coburg !!!

This is the ongoing process of informing families in our proposed school catchment of the realities of secondary education provision in this area and what HSC are doing to improve the situation.
To this end we have:

  • Obtained a Quick Response grant from Moreland City Council for printing purposes.
  • Distributed HSC flyers and petitions at schools, kinders and childcare centres, resulting in increase of our support base to 1,200 families.
  • Spoken at school councils and received a resolution of support from Preston West Primary School.
  • Promoted the HSC Q&A evening in many school, kindergarten and childcare newsletters, placing handbills for this event in kinder/childcare pockets.
  • Sought and been auspiced by Newlands Community Centre who have also assisted with printing and PR.
  • Given 250 Q&A evening posters to Coburg Traders Association for distribution to their shops and also in their newsletter.
  • Received a donation from a local parent of 11,000 household letterbox drop.
  • Received a donation of printing and pens for the HSC Q&A evening from Coburg Officeworks.
  • Catherine Hall and Chris Bonnor (by phone from Sydney) spoke on RRR radio show The Grapevine.
  • Leila Alloush from Victorian Arabic Social Services was interviewed on SBS radio on the High School for Coburg issue. She promoted HSC Q&A event and encouraged parents to be active and come along.
  • Morena Milani appeared in the Moreland Leader along with Chris Bonnor who will be the keynote speaker at the HSC Q&A evening.
  • HSC members have also been very active writing letters to the editor of the Moreland Leader.
  • There are now real estate boards in three locations for High School for Coburg in general and another for HSC Q&A evening.
  • We have had several meetings with Jenny Merkus , Barry Hahn and Robyn Mitchell at Moreland City Council to discuss how council could help with information gathering and the awareness part of our campaign, which they felt was very important.

2) Political Campaign

  • We have attended Moreland City Council meetings and obtained formal support for the High School for Coburg campaign.
  • We have sourced recent population and household projections by forecast id which were commissioned by Moreland council and have discussed analysis of those figures with a Moreland council research officer.
  • HSC representatives attended the Coburg Initiative design workshop to talk about need for a high school in Coburg and discuss importance of considering this in planning.
  • We have spoken to several local ALP branches and gained formal support from all.
  • We have met with Robin Scott, State MP for Preston further to meeting him last year to get help with West Preston population statistics.
  • There have been meetings with Justin Madden's chief of staff, Martin Dixon, Shadow Minister for education, Jenny Mikakos, Member for Northern Metro region Legislative council and Martin Ferguson, Federal Member for Batman.
  • We have had ongoing communications with Kelvin Thomson, Federal MP for Wills who established a working party around the HSC issue which several of our group attended.
  • Christine Campbell, State Member for Pascoe Vale attended an HSC meeting.
  • As a result of HSC action within the local ALP branch, a motion was passed unopposed at ALP State Conference:
    This ALP State Conference therefore calls on the State Government to conduct an urgent review of the current and future provision of secondary schools in the Northern Region of Melbourne and to make specific provision from both a planning and financial perspective for the establishment of open entry public secondary schools with particular reference to Coburg and its surrounding suburbs.

  • HSC called for Carlo Carli and Christine Campbell to chair an open committee which would assess the case for a high school in Coburg.
  • We received a letter to Catherine Hall from Federal Education Minister, Bronwyn
    This letter is interesting because it adds Thornbury High School to the list of schools our area could choose from - but it is too far away. She also mentions for the first time the threshold requirement of 1000-1100 pupils long-term, which is easily achievable going by council projections, for a new school and that Brunswick Secondary College did not get funding for new work which would have allowed for extra places>

3) Education Department

  • Morena Milani, Catherine Hall and Peter Sharples met with Krystyn Hendrickson and Peter Enright from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, Northern Metro Region .We discussed our statistics work and the projections commissioned by Moreland City Council. While the ID forecasts show Coburg as the only suburb in Moreland with significant growth in youth demographic ,the department's figures show growth only in the north. Krys and Peter agreed to discuss the ID work with council and meet with us again on 5th of August when they will also have projected numbers from the primary schools.

Watch this space!

Population Statistics for Moreland and Coburg

These figures are based on 1996, 2001 & 2006 ABS Australian Bureau of Statistics Census: Moreland (C) - Coburg Statistical Local Area (SLA)

Coburg Statisical Local Area

Primary School Statistics
ABS Coburg SLA data shows that the number of children entering year 7 are as follows;
2007 - 539
2010 - 529 (Maternal Child Forecast)
2018 - 755 (Maternal Child Forecast)

New Projections by “ID Demographics” for Moreland City Council

AreaAge Group20062031Variance% Increase
Coburg suburb12-17yp1509202051133.86%
City of Moreland12-17yo82039343113450% in Coburg alone
Coburg SLA12-17yo3244384960553% of total Moreland increase
Coburg SLA 5-11yo 4026482479866% of total Moreland increase

For Coburg Statistical Local Area (SLA)
This area is equivalent to HSC’s proposed catchment area, minus West Preston (which has the highest number of young people and greatest expected increase in Darebin).

Estimates have been provided by Moreland City Council's research department and the Moreland population forecasts for different service ages can be viewed here . To view the population forecasts for Coburg, go here.

It is important to note that Coburg is the only suburb in Moreland with any significant growth in the youth demographic. Figures clearly show the increase in young people in Coburg will be sustained.

HSC Question and Answers, forum and panel discussion evening

HSC is holding a free public information evening and all are welcome. Come along and have your say on the future of secondary education in your local area.

Wednesday 19 August 2009
Coburg Town Hall
90 Bell Street, Coburg (free parking available)

Keynote speaker: Chris Bonnor
Co author with Jane Caro of The Stupid Country, How Australia is Dismantling Public Education

MC: Rod Quantock

We invite all concerned parents, grandparents and local area residents to tell us your ideas and thoughts on secondary education in your area. Attending will be Moreland Councillors, Politicians and education experts as well as like minded people.

Don't miss this opportunity to have your say!

Letter from Bronwyn Pike

by Catherine Hall

We recently received a letter from Bronwyn Pike in response to an email I sent to Kelvin Thomson in April 2009. Similar letters were sent to Bronwyn Pike, Christine Campbell and John Brumby.

This response is more detailed and considered than earlier stock responses so High School for Coburg (HSC) feel we are beginning to have an impact.

The letter is notable for the following reasons:

As always the list of suggested schools families from this region could use does not include a local all access state high school. Interestingly Thornbury High School has been added to that list. This high school is very good but too far away. HSC have highlighted the work of Stephen Lamb (a well respected researcher used by the department see - School Reform and Inequality in Urban Australia A Case of Residualizing the Poor-Stephen Lamb 2007 and an article in the Age about this book) which shows it is very unlikely that people from the Coburg region will be sending their children up to Fawkner Secondary College or Box Forest College. We believe this is why the education department has thrown Thornbury High School into the mix.

The minister states the number required for a new school is 1000-1100 enrolments in the long term. HSC has access to the recent population projections done for Moreland council which seem to show Coburg alone, let alone the region HSC represents would supply these numbers. Coburg's population is set to grow from 22 000 to 33 000

The minister talks about Brunswick High School missing out on funding which would have resulted in additional places at that capped and effectively zoned school. Talking about what could have been does seem a little odd.

Our first real estate sign

by Darren Saffin

High School for Coburg has hits the streets with our very own real estate sign.

reynard street sign

Coming soon to a location near you. Our thanks to Barry Plant Real Estate - Coburg for providing the sign and St Albans church for hosting it in June

BBQ in Victoria Mall

by Morena Milani

It was an absolutely wonderful few hours at Victoria Mall today. David must be commended for an amazing job with getting everything organised, he really went above and beyond it getting it up and running and running smoothly, so thank you very much David!!!!!

sausages sizzling

It was great to meet so many people, many of whom expressed the view that we are really getting places and are starting to believe that a high school in Coburg will be a reality!!!! This shows a tremendous attitudinal shift and I think is a direct reflection of the awareness and education campaigns we have been running continuously since late last year.

young petitioners and morena

working hard

We managed to collect 128 signatures today, this was a phenomenal effort particularly given we needed to multi-skill and cook and serve sausages, take orders, collect money and distribute flyers etc in addition to collecting said signatures. This of course takes us well over the 1,000 families mark and I also gave out petitions to those who requested them to disseminate in their

dianne in HSC t-shirt

It was good to see so many familiar faces, good work Coburg West crew in getting a notice into your newsletter to let your school community know that the event was happening. Dianne the t-shirts are superb and I for one was extremely proud to don mine. I think you are definitely onto a winner with these and I can't wait to get one for my kids. Peter you are a superstar, given how heavy your cold is it was a nothing short of miraculous that you put in whole day's worth of hard yakka, we really appreciate it. Catey as always you were wonderful and really got the word out so a heartfelt thanks for all your efforts. And Denis your BBQing was just great, so consistent and talk about productivity. Now I am sure I have canvassed everyone and their amazing output today, this was a great idea and thank you!

some of the working party

May update and upcoming sausage sizzle

by David Nunns

Just a short note to advise of a couple of big news items from High School for Coburg (HSC) as the campaign continues to establish an open entry year 7 to 12 public secondary school in the Coburg area :

  • Moreland City Council backs HSC ... last week the Moreland City Council (MCC) endorsed a resolution supporting the establishment of a secondary college in Coburg

    -Cr Erdogan moved, Cr Yildiz seconded that Council

    1. Write to the Premier of Victoria, The Honourable John Brumby MP and the Minister for Education, The Honourable Bronwyn Pike MP calling for an open entry secondary college to be established in Coburg.

    2. Commit to working with the Coburg High School Group and the general residents of Coburg to advocate for the establishment of a 7-12 open entry secondary college in Coburg and that Council facilitate the advocacy. (Minutes of the MCC meeting of 13/05/09 can be viewed here)

    It is simply magnificent to have the support of our local council and a special thanks must go to Councillor Enver Erdogan for being the sponsor of the resolution and to the other councillors who backed HSC on the night.

  • COBURG 2020 ... at the Coburg 2020 initiative info stalls that were held last Saturday in the Victoria St. Mall the absence of an open entry public secondary school in Coburg was the biggest concern identified by locals and out-ranked other issues two-to-one. Yes .. thats right ... this single issue out-ranked both the controversial Pentridge Piazza and Coburg High School apartment block developments !!! This sends another clear message to the Moreland City Council and to local politicians that this issue needs to be dealt with as residents call for change.
We see these two recent events as being a positive sign for our campaign and a big THANK-YOU to all of the HSC supporters that visited the stalls and put across their views in an eloquent and passionate manner.

HSC Sausage Sizzle & Stall ... on Saturday the 23rd of May 2009 (this Saturday) the High School for Coburg people will be holding a sausage sizzle and information stall in the Victoria Street Mall in Coburg (next to the pedestrian crossing) from 10:00 AM TO 2:00 PM. So come along and help us raise some much needed funds for HSC so we can expand our activities and move the campaign to another level. Sausages $2.50 Soft Drinks $2.50 Paua Shell Fridge Magnets $2.50 Thanks for you on-going support and we look forward to catching up this Saturday at the sausage sizzle in the Victoria Street Mall in downtown Coburg.

Email to Kelvin Thomson

by Catherine Hall

This is a copy of the email I sent to Kelvin Thomson on April 11, 2009.

Subject: schools for new suburb of 3000 homes while neglect in Coburg which will also gain 3000 homes

Dear Kelvin,
I was angered at the apparent inequity inherent in the announcement of the Federal and State initiative to build a new suburb in Maribyrnong.
This development will have 3000 new homes in 10 years,"equivalent to Castlemaine " which is exactly the home number and time frame for The Coburg Initiative.
It was announced that there will be new schools [note the plural] included in the planning.

While this is laudible it highlights what Coburg ISN'T getting.

Coburg has the greatest number of young children in Moreland and the greatest expected increase in those numbers and yet in this region there are 22 pimary schools and not one high school.
Coburg already has great need for a high school ,as evidenced by High School for Coburg [HSC] data and the 850 very concerned families who have joined us thus far.
The primary school community ,and thus the wider one,is being dismantled as children travel to many different high schools, all out of their area.
Add to this dire situation development the size of Castlemaine -not to mention Pentridge and Kodak and, unlike Maribyrnong, still we are not deemed worthy of consideration for a school.
Would you please ask Bronwyn Pike and Julia Gillard to give the region from West Preston across to Pacoe Vale [which includes the Coburg Initiative] the same consideration of education provision that has apparently occurred for the new Maribyrnong suburb?

Kind Regards

Catherine Hall
Coburg North 3058

March Update

by Morena Milani
Dear friends and supporters (over 800 families and individuals to date), March was campaign month for the HSC group. We sought to raise further awareness of the lack of secondary education in Coburg and its surrounds and grow our supporter base. To this end we ran two high profile campaigns at both the Sydney Road Street Party (SRSP), and at the Coburg West Primary School Fete (Coburg West being the largest school community in our proposed catchment area).

Our community stall at the SRSP on Sunday 1 March, 2009 was a resounding success. We doubled our supporter base to reach a grand total of just over 500 families/individuals. The Coburg West Primary School Fete on Sunday 22 March, 2009 saw over 300 new members join our ranks in less than four hours!!

These events put us in the privileged position of being able to interact with parents and learn about their concerns and opinions. This information was incredibly valuable and has been used to provide stakeholders with a vital anecdotal snapshot that statistical analysis/data alone does not provide. Parents on both days expressed a range of interesting views. The broad consensus was one of outrage and disbelief that Coburg does not have a high school. Another popularly articulated view was that people love this community and the wonderful networks they have built and are loathe to leave the area to educate their children. Moreover, there was a fervent belief and desire that a public school education would offer their children a genuine microcosm of the world and allow for diversity within an egalitarian environment.

On Wednesday 11 March, 2009, Highy School for Coburg (HSC) co-founders and working party members, Cate Hall and Morena Milani were invited to Victoria's Parliament House for a round table discussion on the educational crisis facing Coburg and its broader community. In attendance were the Education Minister for the Victorian Government, Bronwyn Pike and her advisor Caitlin, Member for Pascoe Vale Christine Campbell and her Electorate Officer Kerrie and Head of the Northern Metropolitan Region of the Education Department Wayne Craig. The meeting, which had initially been scheduled for half an hour, was incredibly positive with the Education Minister giving Cate and Morena well over an hour of her time. During the discussion Cate was able to offer a most convincing and in depth statistical analysis that indicated the overwhelming need to furnish Coburg with a high school to accommodate the ever growing number of young people in the area. Morena presented a colourful anecdotal snapshot, underscoring the desire of parents to have world-class educational opportunities for their children. She also spoke passionately about the issue of overcrowding within desirable schools that has been compounded significantly by the Global Financial Crisis. Cate and Morena emerged from the meeting with a firm commitment from the Education Minister to continue their dialogue within an expeditious time frame.

HSC's work with politicians is ongoing. On Tuesday 24 March 2009, members of the HSC Working Party and other concerned parents attended a meeting called by The Honourable Member for Wills, Kelvin Thomson, to establish his own working party to examine education in this region of Melbourne. The meeting resulted in a constructive exchange of views and a sharing of information and a promise to move ahead quickly with a number of strategies outlined on the evening. Recently, Kelvin Thomson gave a parliamentary address on the issue of educational disadvantage within this electorate. HSC is proud to report that Kelvin Thomson used some of our rich statistical work and that our group were named in his parliamentary speech. Like HSC, Kelvin Thomson believes that a quality educational experience is essential for a child to reach their full potential.

Another exciting development saw HSC featured in The Age education section on Monday 30 March, 2009. Here Cate, on behalf of HSC, was able to provide an insightful overview of the educational landscape in HSC's proposed catchment area. Cate outlined the group's objectives, history, statistical findings and achievements. The article was most supportive of HSC's cause.

In the coming weeks, primary school parents in this area will be surveyed on schooling options for their children. This survey is being co-ordinated by Christine Campbell's office. And this is where you can play a crucial role by making your voice heard!!! If you truly want this venture to succeed, then please show your support. If a quality secondary educational institution was provided within HSC's focus area, would you consider sending your children there? Do your children a favour and join the many amazing parents who believe in this area and want to educate their children here. Show that you believe in this new and exciting vision for Coburg and its larger community. With your help and your belief, we can achieve great things!!!!!!! HSC's aim is to get this message out to as many families in Coburg and its surrounds as we can. If you think you can help to distribute leaflets to primary schools, kindergartens, child care centres or children's recreational groups then please contact us now. If you are aware of any other organisations that may be able to assist this campaign through media, advertising opportunities or the provision of stationery and printing then HSC would appreciate this assistance enormously.