Short survey : Towards a Coburg High in 2015

In July 2012 Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon announced that in 2015 Coburg Senior High School will be expanded to a year 7-12 secondary school. High School for Coburg group welcome this decision and thank the community for their wonderful support.

We are pleased there has been such a positive reaction from the community and now seek to gather your early thoughts and ideas.

Please take a moment to fill in this short survey - there are only four questions.
These include an opened ended question about how you would like a 7-12 Coburg High School to be and we ask if and when any of you children may attend the school. To access survey, click on link below.

High School for Coburg group will offer your feedback to any formal consultation process.

We plan to keep the survey open through December but may extend this to first term 2013 depending on feedback level and circumstances.

Thank you for taking an interest.
High School for Coburg working group

HSC Civic fund launch

HSC were excited to publicly launch the High School for Coburg Civic Fund at the Civic Reception.

The fund is based on the 1961 Coburg Civic Fund which gathered donations from individuals and businesses for the building of the Coburg Olympic Pool. It builds on Coburg's proud history of generosity but also a history of strong advocacy for local education.

HSC began this project in late 2010 gathering pledges which would be payable to the new school if/when we got one! We quickly reached a total near $20,000 -however $10,000 of that was from Equiset Grollo who are no longer partners in the Coburg Initiative. Since then our energy was diverted to other campaign tasks, however now that there is an actual school to donate to we decided to publicly launch the HSC Civic Fund.

Our plan is for  pledges to be converted to donations once the 7-12 school entity has a school council. The usual vehicle for such donations is called a library fund. Pledges of  $1,000 and over will earn the opportunity to use the Proud Supporter Seal in their promotion.

The High School for Coburg Civic Fund has several purposes:
  • showing community support for the school 
  • raising the sense of community ownership and therefore potential community partnerships with the school. 
  • raising the profile/ marketing the 7-12 school to help grow the first intake in 2015 
  • actual monetary benefit to the school.
  • shows that HSC are committed to following through and helping build the school.
We have $8,300 in pledges so far from businesses, organisations and individuals ranging from $100 from John Macneil who attended Coburg High from 1939 -1943 (and who has promised to give more once the new school entity has a school council) to $2,500 from John Parisi the partner in My Chemist/ Chemist Warehouse Coburg and Brunswick.

Pledges over $1,000 earn the opportunity to use a Civic Fund "proud supporter" seal in their advertising.

If you would like to make a pledge please contact us by email, facebook message or post (contact details and link to facebook on the website)and we will record your name on the list!

  • John Parisi, Partner, My Chemist / Chemist Warehouse Coburg and
  •  Brunswick:$2,500
  • Ahmed Haouchar, Owner, Al Alamy International Coffee and Nuts: $2.000
  • Barry Plant, Coburg: $2.000
  • High School for Coburg working group, $1,000
  • Arabic Social Services: $200
  • Axilleon Caffe Cake Shop: $100
  • Sarah Sanders and family, West Coburg Primary: $100
  • Little Dear Tracks Cafe: $100
  • Elli's Deli: $100
  • John Macneil, Attended Coburg High 1939-1943: $100
  • Haas and Gray Indigenous Horticulture,  $100
 Total $8,300

HSC Civic Reception

A very big thank you to the Mayor, Cr John Kavanagh and Moreland City Council for hosting the High School for Coburg Civic Reception on the 29th of August. The evening was a wonderful and positive affirmation of the work done by so many towards achieving such a great outcome!

An early highlight  of the Civic Reception was the performance by Sue Johnson's twenty strong community choir, The Trolls. As the story goes their name came about when the choir were practising one evening under the Merri Creek bluestone bridge at Murray Rd - for the excellent acoustics. A cyclist passed by and called out "You should call yourselves the Trolls!".  Most of the members of the choir are local parents of potential Coburg High children and HSC thank them all for volunteering their time and harmonious vocal chords to make the night special.
 The large gathering (reported in the Moreland Leader as 80)  was a broadly  representative mix of our community's rich past, present and future.

Attendees included (in no particular order):

  • The Vice Chancellor of La Trobe University, John Dewar.
  • Many local school principals including from Catholic schools.
  • School council presidents and representatives.
  • High School for Coburg working group and families including parents of the first identified Year 7 student for 2015!
Elected representatives and Council:
  • Our local Federal and State elected representatives - Kelvin Thomson and Christine Campbell.
  • Moreland Mayor Cr John Kavanagh and many other councillors
  • Darebin Councillor Cr Vince Fontana
  • Moreland Council CEO Peter Brown, Director Social Development Andrew Day, Manager Early Years and Social Policy Barry Hahn and several others.
Our history represented:
  • Coburg High Historical Group  member Tom Anderson who told us recently that the centenary of the old Coburg High will be 2016 - that is one year after the new school opens! Such a proud history associated  with this school - we hope the new school is called Coburg High! 
  • Coburg Historical Society  Secretary Cheryl Griffiths who is also an ex-Newlands High student and education historian who has written a piece on the history of Coburg High Schools and has donated school paraphernalia to HSC.
  • Coburg North Secondary College - Parents and Friends member Paula Hyndes who was involved in producing a study on what happened to the children once that school was closed and they relocated to farther away schools.  
 Our future:
  • Local children!
We were looking forward to thanking government and Education Department representatives in person for all the work done and the fantastic decision but unfortunately none attended. This could possibly be explained by the fact that it was State Parliament sitting week and the extensive restructure the DEECD is undergoing.

The mood was very positive and reflected the general community's high level of interest and desire to be part of building the Family-School-Community Partnership with the 7-12 local high school! We are proud and happy to be part of such a community!

A high school for Coburg, at last!

On Tuesday 17/07/12 at 1.30, Cate got a call from The Age asking if we were celebrating yet? The journalist revealed the exciting news that the Minister for Education, Martin Dixon was about to announce the decision to expand Coburg Senior High School to include years 7 -12 in 2015. An hour or so later Cate got a call from the DEECD who confirmed this great news including a process of community consultation. So on Wednesday morning I got up early to read this article in The AgeCampaigners win fight: Coburg will have a high school. Tears streamed down my face. My seven year old daughter came and told me how great she thought it was that she'd be able to go to high school with her friends from primary school. The Moreland Leader quickly followed The Age with Community welcomes Coburg high school expansion .

Wednesday was certainly a day for celebration and amidst all the busyness, Cate posted this on our Facebook page which certainly sums it all up.
Thank you to Education Minister Martin Dixon for this excellent decision. You can read the minister's press release here. Thank you also to those at the DEECD who worked on this for a long time. We congratulate the minister for keeping the politics out of school provision - for seeing the need and responding accordingly.
The overwhelming response from all sectors of the community and parents tears of joy and relief flowing in primary school communities from Preston to Pascoe Vale vindicate the hard work by all! People now have some certainty that they can stay in this community and their children will have the option of active travel to a local school with their friends!
Thank you to all of you for your congratulatory messages and your crucial support over the the last four years!
Everything has changed! It suddenly feels like there will be a beating heart at the centre of our community.
Roll on the family-school-community partnership!!!
This incredible community, including parents, council, schools, businesses and organisations along with the wonderful teaching already occuring at the Senior High will build something very special - an education hub which will be a core part of our community!
Long live Coburg High!!
We are holding a celebration of the announcement of a 7-12 high school for Coburg on Sun 29 July, from 2-4pm. The Post Office Hotel, Sydney Rd Coburg have kindly given HSC the use of the old dining room. You may like to have a Sunday roast before hand or food can be ordered at the bar and taken into the room. Link to the Facebook event page here.
Thank you for your support and we hope to see you there!

hsc campign

Population, planning and school provision: It’s high time for Coburg

Currently in Melbourne many middle ring suburbs have community campaigns calling for reinstatement of government school provision. The suburbs include – Richmond, Kingsville-Yarraville-Seddon, Oakleigh, Coburg, Prahran and a campaign for two schools for Port Phillip. 

A graph made using the Property Council’s new tool, Our Nation, shows just how many new class rooms will be needed in Melbourne to cope with projected increased numbers by 2021 – enough to make any State Government treasurer blanch. The suburbs needing schools now are generally those which have experienced school closures followed by increased numbers of school aged children as a result of increased births, suburb life cycle and an influx of first home buyers and young families moving a bit further out from the inner city.
Along with the above population factors some middle ring suburbs are experiencing urban renewal with plans and capacity for more. A recent Property Council Report Making the Numbers Stack Up: a study into major residential urban renewal in Melbourne has highlighted Coburg as being the only suburb in the top 20 for numbers of all three new housing types. 

Coburg Hill – the redevelopment of the old Kodak site is coming along nicely and was launched by State Government big guns like the Premier and Planning Minister.In a recent Moreland Leader article, the Moreland Council CEO Peter Brown said of the Coburg Initiative urban renewal project -“All the fundamentals are there. Even when we talk to the State Government they say of all the urban redevelopments around Melbourne this is probably as good as you’re going to get”.

HSC argue, with full council support, that the one fundamental missing is a high school which is essential for the economic viability of urban renewal in this designated activity area. If the State government back urban renewal in our area they should also back the provision of essential social infrastructure. Local school provision not only benefits economic development it is positive for community development, social development, well being, health and the environment. Of all morning peak hour car trips, 17% are parents taking children to school according to a recent report from the Vic Parliamentary Enquiry into Environmental Design and Public Health and the cost of congestion is set to double by 2010. HSC say planning for local school provision which enables active transport is the solution.

Recently the Minister for Education Hon Martin Dixon said on ABC radio that of all the areas in Melbourne needing a school Coburg is the most progressed. Since September 2008 Community advocacy group High School for Coburg (HSC) has been calling for the reinstatement of junior secondary provision in Coburg. HSC’s own report More Local Primary School – Fewer Secondary Options  shows very big increases in primary school enrolments in the area, for example a 50% increase Prep enrolments in the four years to 2012.

HSC await the census data with interest as one anomaly they cite is the low growth in numbers for primary school aged children in id forecast projections for Coburg North for instance compared with the actual primary enrolment increases at the local schools. Cate from HSC wonders if this is because it is hard to capture families who migrate into suburbs with children as they aren’t picked up in birth data for the area.
The group has put together this data map using the id website which shows the most secondary school aged persons in Darebin and Moreland are in Preston and Coburg –suburbs which do not have any Years 7-9 co-ed school provision. Two state governments have commissioned two demographic reports by consultants Spatial Vision on a study area roughly equating with the Moreland plus Darebin municipalities.
The 2012 report, with the added benefit of Darebin Council now being on board with id forecast showed even bigger projections than the 2010 report and found an immediate shortfall in spaces for years 7 to 9.

The Education Minister has this report and DEECD recommendations before him now and is expected to make a decision in the near future.

HSC say it would be a good idea for the Planning Minister to have a chat with him.

Cross posted on the .idblog here.

High School for Coburg Campaign Update June 2012

While the Minister for Education, Martin Dixon has been considering the Review of Secondary Provision in the Coburg Area, HSC has had extensive media coverage including:
Here is a snap shot of comments from the Minister’s spokesperson:
  • Expanding Coburg Senior High School to include year 7 to 9 students was one of two options under consideration to meet a shortfall of 301 year 7 to 9 places set to more than double in less than a decade
  • The second option being considered was increasing infrastructure at existing schools.
  • Minister Dixon would consult with the HSC group and other stakeholders and was likely to reach a decision in the next two months.
  • “If there needs to be short-term solutions, such as relocatable classrooms, those things are considered and money is available,” 
  • “But it may be that there are other schools in the area that also have capacity to take students.
  • We’re certainly looking at a long-term solution for the Coburg area.
  • Minister was willing to meet community groups. 
  • "The minister is looking at a number of options to cater for short and long-term growth in the area and is expected to make an announcement in the next few weeks about preferred options," the spokesman said.
  • He said the data had to be properly analysed before a preferred option could be explored.
Comments from Minister Dixon on ABC radio:
  • Of the areas needing a school Coburg is the most advanced. A number of options with me right now. I am considering these.
  • Looking at recommendations with options -we consider options then make decisions about timing. Depending on recommendations -may not be needed until next year or the year after.
  • If recommendations say the need is immediate then it could be in the budget next year.

The reports, including the Spatial Vision Report 2012 and the  HSC Response to the 2012 Spatial Vision Report, are on Minister Dixon’s table now and HSC are keen to meet with him. So we were pleased to read that the Minister is happy to meet with community groups and will be consulting with HSC as we have been unable to secure a meeting with the Minister or his advisor since January 2011.

It is excellent that the most sensible option (7-9 provision at Coburg Senior High) is being considered. We ask the Minister to choose this option now – it does not cost anything to make the right decision – and give our community some certainty.

Relocatables at schools outside Coburg are not a solution for this community as they would be mainly at Thornbury and Northcote – too far away – and in relatively small numbers, according to the Spatial Vision report, so would be quickly swallowed up by those communities.

A short term stop gap is not the answer and is not an efficient use of funds.
The money that is available now for relocatables should be spent on immediate implementation planning for provision in Coburg.

A “long term solution for Coburg” is not good enough – the Spatial Vision report found a significant and immediate shortfall. The need is therefore immediate and it is good to know that if the DEECD recommendations reflect this – the money can be in next year’s budget.

  • HSC have secured a very high level DEECD meeting – date TBA.
  • HSC have reiterated our requests to meet with Minister Dixon and his advisor or chief of staff.
  • HSC have an Information and Discussion Session booked for Moreland Council Directors, CEO and Councillors on Monday 25 June.
  • HSC have pencilled in Tuesday 24 July for a community meeting at Coburg Concert Hall– details TBA.
  • Now is the time to write to the Minister. Contact details here
  • ‘Like’ us on facebook – we have 674 followers currently
  • Has your school or childcare written a letter of support? Have they backed the CSHS option?
  • We have 12 schools and two child care centres among our 45 letters of community support

Coburg Provision Review handed to Minister Dixon


A process looking at ways to manage the shortfall highlighted in the 2010 Spatial Vision Report  was announced in Jan 2011. Nothing happened. This was in part apparently due to DEECD re-structure. The 2010 Spatial Vision report was then deemed too old and a new process, The Coburg Provision Review was established in Oct 2011.

Along with DEECD brief, Minister Dixon was given:
  • A "re-freshed' Spatial Vision Report. 
  • Independent consultation with 23 schools. In Feb 2012, principals and school council presidents were asked about the provision issue in general and the HSC proposal to have junior provision at the Coburg Senior High site. 
  • High School for Coburg (HSC) response to Spatial Vision report. At the end of the process, HSC were invited to write a response to the Spatial Vision Review 2012. (This was prepared at short notice by two mums in four days hence the typos).
We share our report with you here. The main points are:
  • Much bigger numbers than the 2010 report. 
  • Significant and immediate provisions shortfall, therefore HSC expects immediate provision planning. 
  • The recommendation in the 2010 report was to manage the shortfall from 2016. The shortfall number for 2016 in the old report was already exceeded significantly in 2011 in the new report, so to be consistent the DEECD recommendation should be to manage the shortfall immediately. 
  • Report states the pressure will be on the middle and southern schools. There are no open entry state secondary schools in the middle - Pascoe Vale, Coburg, Preston etc and southern schools are full
The minister was aware of the Spatial Vision report findings well before the budget so it is disappointing to see there has been no allocation for provision planning. However, budget allocation or not there is no hiding from the numbers. It is worth noting that the three previous consultant reports, including two Spatial Vision reports, and indeed the whole Coburg Provision Review, occurred without budget announcements. What is needed now is for Minister Dixon to make the decision to utilise the Coburg Senior High site as the most sensible option for managing the demonstrated shortfall in Year 7-9 provision.This will give our community some much needed certainty and enable the DEECD to begin implemantion planning as a continuation of the work already done.

The community, including the twelve schools who formally support HSC, are ready to be part of the solution.

HSC Response to 2012 Spatial Vision Report


Let's compare the outcomes.

Number of secondary aged persons at 2012 (id forecast) 
  • COBURG suburb alone: 1,613 - High school closed 2004.......
  • ALBERT PARK-MIDDLE PARK: 400 - School closed 2006 -already re-opened and full thus highlight the demand in inner suburbs for public education. (Port Phillip Council looking at the need for a second.)
  • PRAHRAN: 372 - $200,000 in Budget to study sites (seemingly skipping the process to identify need, which the Coburg community has endured for years)
In other words Coburg has over four times the number of high school aged kids in Albert Park (and 40 times the growth) and Prahran.but still no sign of a high school.

Campaign update

As reported in the The Age on Friday 30th March there has been an ironic twist in the long sad story of the Education Black Hole. The old Coburg High site on Bell Street has come up for sale just as a report looking at the need for a new Coburg High is being updated for the Minister for Education!

The DEECD are due to hand a report to Martin Dixon which will include a 'refresh' of the 2010 Spatial Vision report which was commissioned by Bronwyn Pike to determine whether demographics support the provision of a new stand alone school. The updated report will be based in part on updated Moreland and Darebin population forecasts by id who provide demographic information. These show a greatly increased number of secondary school age persons in our area and much sooner than in the 2010 report.

The report to Minister Dixon will also include an independant report based on the work of a consultant who spoke to 23 school principals and school council presidents throughout February 2012.
morena being interviewed

Questions raised about Coburg Senior High School

This comment was received from Robin, a Coburg parent on HSC's recent Facebook poll that asked "Would your children attend a government open entry high school in Coburg?"
Yes! We would like Coburg Senior High returned to a year 7-12 high school so that our kids can continue their education journey within our local community and along side friends from our primary school & the local neighbourhood. It is beyond belief that we have a fantastic secondary school (CSHS) which could benefit so many, being wasted on a few.....the boarded up windows on the lower levels on the buildings bring tears to my eyes when I ride my bike thru the school grounds - such wonderful resources & infrastructure allowed to rot while the need for a school continues to grow. What is the political agenda that allows this to be the case? Why do the powers that be think it's a good idea for Coburg to be without a high school?
Coburg Senior High School

Coburg Senior High School
Also on the subject of the Coburg Senior High School this is a letter from parent Giles Brading to MP Kelvin Thomson in March 2012.

Dear Kelvin,
I contact you with great concern for what I am witnessing in regard to the Secondary School education offered within the Moreland area.
I am aware of the High School for Coburg movement and agree in entirety with their objective but find it hard to believe that any action will be made before my son requires a secondary education in 2015.
My greatest concern is focused on the existing Coburg Senior High School.
I attach an article published April 2007 in the Herald Sun launching the school, its revolutionary teaching style and wealthy resources.
The paragraph of greatest concern is "The school opened this year with 45 year-10 students and will eventually accommodate 900 year 10-12 students."
Today the school has been open for nearly 5 years and has under 300 students.
The word "eventually' used in the context of this article would suggest to me that within 5 years it would be fair to make the assumption that the 900 student capacity be reached.
That leaves a gap of 600 students. I'm starting to sense that Coburg Senior High School does not come under the jurisdiction of a normal Government school?
How can it be that a government built facility paid for, maintained and operated by tax payer funds is being allowed to continue under capacity in an almost elitist manner?
Did you know that to apply for a place at Coburg Senior High School it is necessary to complete two online interview processes and that you will be contacted if you are a 'person' of interest?
Did you know that Coburg Senior High School only holds two open days per year for prospective students?
I can only conclude from what I have seen and read that Coburg Senior High School must be a fantastic place to be a teacher, with a small number of students and a strict intake criteria, doesn't sound like a government school to me!
Nothing in regard to the High School is transparent. When will it reach capacity? how much funding does it receive? and why is it so select in its entry?
Your knowledge and comment on my concerns would be much appreciated

Yours Sincerely

Giles Brading

Coburg Senior High School

Letter to the Education Minister about secondary school provision for Coburg

Coburg parent, Richard sent this letter to the Minister for Education, Martin Dixon on 15/03/2012.

Dear Minister,
Well another school year has begun and my two sons have thrown themselves back into learning at Coburg Primary School. My eldest son is in Grade 6 this year, capping off a wonderful primary school experience at an extremely wonderful school, where a true sense of community thrives. Sadly, next year all will be different for him as we’re still not certain we can secure a place in any of the surrounding high schools, and there’s absolutely no guarantee he’ll be with any of his primary school mates. So he’s going to have to take one or more public transport connections to get to his new high school, in one of four directions, and whatever school it is it won’t be in his suburb. Unlike parents in all the surrounding suburbs, we have no alternative to this.

As far as I’m aware, these distant high schools are rapidly approaching capacity, which may mean our already limited options are further eroded. Add to this is the fact that we want our children to have the best possible high school experience and I’m sorry to say that the current re-branding of the surviving two nearest northern high schools isn’t enough to convince us that they can offer what we want for our children. So given that he will have to travel to a distant high school, we would send him elsewhere to a school with a proven track record.

Regardless of which school ultimately takes our children, it won’t be in our suburb, which is very disappointing for us personally, but it affects our community by making it constantly transitory. The extraordinary lengths Coburg families must go through, either moving to other suburbs with a local high school, or those that stay or have no option, must apply to various distant schools, where either we’re out of the zone, or the school is at or over capacity, or it doesn’t provide a decent secondary education.

Our children have no say in this and it’s their needs that are not being met. There is no connection for Coburg kids to recognize the normal situation of attending primary and then high schools in their suburb. Coburg’s community will always only be interconnected at the primary school-aged kids level and then scattered, as all of our parental interest is directed to other suburb’s high schools. Coburg doesn’t have a High School it can be a part of; its’ adolescents have no investment in Coburg and families will have no continuing bond with which to build a complete community.

Minister, it’s so frustrating knowing there is an empty high school building just down the road from our primary school, that could easily address all these problems. Well not entirely empty, the site houses Coburg Senior High School, the Northern Regional offices of DEECD, plus I think other tenants. There is a three-storey school building, mostly empty, where DEECD offices are located. This is a purpose-built Year 7 to 12 high school, paid for by our taxes, and being grossly under-utilized, and we’re told to go out and squeeze into another distant school. My kids will be walking past this empty school to the bus/tram/train for the next 9 years.

Moreland in general is undergoing a population boom; all primary schools are reporting an increase in their prep enrolments. The 2010 Spatial Vision report showed there is an increase in secondary school-aged students in Moreland and that provision should be increased. Massive housing developments at Pentridge and the Kodak site and Moreland’s proposed urban renewal initiative will only add to this. You know you’ll have to increase High school provision so why don’t you do it now and help keep our community together also.

The current school, Coburg Senior High School, is I suppose, a wonderful addition to the Northern Region’s secondary provision, but it doesn’t do anything for our community’s children as it is a select entry school, and it starts at Year 10. And why is it so that in this fiscally tight age you can spend quite a lot more per student on what is effectively an experimental model while the actual needs of the community are not addressed at all? While it wouldn’t be easy or even desirable, CSHS could even remain as an existing stream alongside the Year 7 to 12 open entry Coburg High School, the site is that big and that under-utilized.

Minister, I know you are interested in this issue. You were present at two large community meetings held at the Coburg Town Hall when you were Opposition spokesman for education. You are a parent and were, I believe once a high school principal. You understand our community’s need for a high school. It’s not good enough for your Government to say, well the previous Labour government did nothing to fix this problem so why should we? You can do better than that. Many are saying your Government needs to invest in infrastructure, in particular in education, to stimulate the flagging economy. Retrofitting the existing building to accommodate a staged reintroduction of an open entry secondary school would do this and provide for our community and secondary education in the northern region, without a huge expenditure.

Our community has suffered enough. The whole northern suburb catchment for high schools will benefit form greater choice and relieved enrolment pressure in their local schools. There are no excuses. The building is there. The need is recognized. It’s part of your charter to provide quality education to all students and this is not being done.

I await your response to this urgent and most heartfelt plea.


Richard Gray

Coburg family contemplates private education due to lack of high school in Coburg

Coburg parent Alexandra shared her family's situation on HSC's Facebook page earlier this month. This is what she had to say.

My eldest son has just entered the school system starting at Moreland Primary School. His three siblings are soon to follow and there is lots of talk amongst parents about where they are going to send their kids to high school. Many seem to think they will get into Uni High or Princes High on the back of their kids having skills in music or entering accelerated learning programs or will try and get them into Northcote or Brunswick Secondary. My husband and I both went to public schools and both have Masters degrees so we are not set on going private but at the same time there are simply not enough good options available in Coburg so we have enrolled our kids in various private schools. If you live in the city end of Coburg then the number 8 tram on Moreland Road is direct non-stop access to Melbourne Grammar and Melbourne Boys Grammar in South Yarra (45 min). Moreland Road buses head to the East to Ivanhoe train which is walking distance to Ivanhoe Grammar, Ivanhoe Girls Grammar (25 min) and Moreland buses heading West take you to Essendon train station which is a walk to Penleigh Essendon Grammar (boys and girls) and Lowther Hall (25 min). If none of our kids get a scholarship then we're looking at about $125k each child after tax for Year 7-Year 12. So about $500k in total. It's either that or heading north to Box Forrest and at the moment, with a lack of a school in Coburg, I would take the private school option any day of the week! Furthermore, recent property reports on Channel 7 made reference to suburbs that would boom when the market corrects itself. The only suburb in Melbourne mentioned was Coburg - becuase of its proximity to the city and tram network.........not because of access to good schools. So we'll make lots of money in our houses, but we'll have to pay private school fees. Nice!

I live a short walk to Moreland Primary School and it makes a massive difference to my day by being so close so I wish it could be the same for high school or a short bike ride. Kangan are going to be selling off their site in The Avenue shortly which in fact was the original Coburg High School. Oh how times have changed!

Letter to the Education Minister calls for the possibility of Coburg Senior High being opened for junior enrolments to be investigated

This letter was sent from Karen, a parent who lives in Coburg to Martin Dixon, the State Education Minister in March 2012.

To Martin Dixon,
I am writing to you regarding a matter of great importance to my family and to other families in our community. We live in Coburg and my son, who is in Grade Five, has two more years of primary school before he starts high school. I also have another child in Grade 3. We live in Coburg, north of Bell St and my children currently attend Bell Primary in West Preston, along with many other children in our street.We have a fantastic local community in our area of Coburg and primary school has been a great experience but now that it is nearly time for my son to start high school, our options are very limited.

Most children at Bell Primary live in the zone for Northcote High School, but after contacting Northcote, I was told that we are too far from the Northcote zone to be eligible. Using the criteria given by Northcote High, it seems that our closest high school is now John Fawkner College in Fawkner.

For my son to get to this school by public transport, as it is important for all of us that he becomes more and more independent, it will take 53 minutes by bus at least .( For him to get to Fitzroy High by public transport, by contrast , takes only 32 minutes.) I do not think that this is an acceptable option. Most people would consider Coburg to be an inner city suburb and would not be expecting to travel nearly an hour to high school.

But more importantly to me, Fawkner is way out of our community. I don’t know of anyone who has children at this school or has gone there. I do not feel at all comfortable with sending my kids so far away to a place that is so far from our community.

Having spoken to many of our local community it seems that all of us with children are facing a very difficult high school future. Where are our kids to go?? We are zoned out of Northcote, Strathmore, Princes Hill and Brunswick High Schools (all easy options via public transport) Thornbury High has also capped recently and are saying “no more boys please” . I know that several families in the area will move in order to get their kids into a high school that is a good match for their kids and one that is in walking/easy public transport distance. It is not want they want to do, but the choices are just so limited.

There is nowhere local for our children to go.

I know that our situation is not unique. A quick survey of other local primary schools has shown an amazing expansion in numbers, with schools being very “bottom” heavy. In many cases the number of Prep enrolments has doubled in the last few years. The birth rate in Moreland is now the highest in the country.

The need for a high school in Coburg has been shown and I believe that you have publicly acknowledged this need. I am very interested to know more about the possibility of Coburg Senior Secondary High being opened for enrolments for Year 7 students up. This campus has the capacity to take 9oo students and for the last few years sits at around the 210 mark. This campus has had a lot of money spent on it and I believe that it offers a realistic solution to the Coburg High problem. I also have seen statistics showing where the current students come from, the majority are not from Coburg. This school can cater to the local community needs and I believe that it is a waste of tax payer’s money that it does not. I would like to make a time to meet with you to discuss this further.

Yours sincerely Karen 

Sydney Road Street Festival

Last weekend High School for Coburg had a stall at the Sydney Rd Street Party. There was a huge amount of strong support and interest from people who sought us out. A number of themes emerged when we talked with  parents and concerned community members.

  • Concern that being a safe Labor seat works against us with both ALP and Liberal governments.
  • Serious anxiety and worry for families about the lack of a local high school. Families don't want to or can't afford to move away but have no option for secondary education.
  • Frustration. The obvious need for a high school in Coburg and the obvious suitability of the Coburg Senior High site provision solution 
  • Concern, suspicion and anger about the Coburg Senior High as it is and as it sits in this community - wasted public facility with empty space which could be utilised. Low enrolments mean huge amount of public money being poured into the school is not the best use of public money. There is a strong perception that the school is selective and there were negative personal stories from prospective parents who have done tours eg being told if they can't buy a lap top to forget it or if they didn't find out about the school via the website forget it because they are not right for the school. Anger about having a low enrolment, effectively selective school with empty buildings sitting in the middle of an area of such desperate need. Many parents said this story needs to be "put out there".
  • Of significance was the strong support from the very large number of Brunswick community parents who approached us.They all said they support a high school for Coburg and do not see it as a threat to Brunswick High. Most were surprised to hear a possible Coburg High had been portrayed as a threat to Brunswick High.They are very aware of the numbers coming through Brunswick Primary schools and are worried about whether they will be able to access Brunswick High when the time comes.

Matt and Bethany's story

by Matt Thomas
With my youngest now entering the last term of grade 5, I feel I may have lost some of impetus and drive required to upset, derail the status quo at the northern region.  The CSHS is of course an elitist blight on the landscape as far as I'm personally concerned. It is by definition anti-community. If it were serious stand alone proposition, then it should not feel threatened by the possibility of an open-entry Y7-Y12 HSC.

The DEECD stats clearly show the need of a HSC. 5,000 kids of high school age living within 4km of Sydney and Bell streets bear this out. The fact that half of them attend private schools, demonstrates in my mind the lack of choice. Whilst Strathmore is generally seen as this regions panacea, it still grieves me to see 4 ex Newlands State Pimary School (NPS) kids take three forms of public transport to get there. Whilst it could be argued that kids of this age are generally pretty resilient, a minimum 1.5 hour (sometimes closer to 2.5hour) daily commute is bloody outrageous given the proximity to the GPO in a city of nearly 4 million people! Not too mention the carbon foot print. A walk or a bike ride for these kids is simply out of the question.

It is also grieves me to see, of an average of 20 kids graduating from Newlands Primary School, over the last 6 years, that there was an average of 7 destination high schools each year. I'm not a genius with stats, but that makes it highly improbable that you'd go to high school, from primary school, than with anymore than maybe one, a maximum of four people you have known for up to 7 years. Not only traumatic for the kids, but it splits parent relationships asunder - so much for community....   There are other avenues for community of course (planting natives down the creek, jambing spuds on politicians exhausts, etc). However primary school, and hopefully high school does necessarily bring parents together, sometimes just to 'shoot the breeze' and catch up with what's happening in the hood.

Carmen's story

by Carmen Lahiff-jenkins
I’ve been a Coburg resident for 12 years. The North Coburg area was home for 10 of those. We turned our front yard into a vegie garden and slowly the neighbors become involved in our labor of love, we trained them as chook wranglers and dog-catchers as our menagerie spilled over our fence; the children called the old man across the road Pa and we attended the funeral of his wife with heavy hearts. The local children would show up on our doorstep most evenings for bike advice and my partner was the coach at a local football club. Every Christmas Eve we organized a visit from Santa, meeting at the park on Claremont street, a few years in a row with Preston Fire-brigade on board, delivering Santa in style.

As our eldest son entered late primary it occurred to us; there was no high school in Coburg.

Investigating our options it became clear that on the North side of Bell Street we wouldn’t have access to a high school of choice and the options were distinctly disappointing. So we moved to the other side of Bell Street and left the relationship with our community behind. But it doesn’t end there. Now two years into our new address and Strathmore, Thornbury and Northcote are closing their doors, to boys especially. The options are still rather limited. Many of the Coburg kids who have schooled together cannot go to High school together, and my son makes lists trying to choose which friends he can let go and with which he want to stay. I have started training him for long travel alone as unless we move again he will have to travel across suburbs for schooling. This will incur extra expenses for our family as well as limiting his physical exercise, as he now travels by scooter or bike to school.
Earlier this year we did the high school open day circuit, and at each school they would ask ‘where do you live?’ and when we answered ‘Coburg’ they would look doubtful and say ‘well, try anyway’.

My children attend a primary school that are already predicting 80 preps in 2012, this year there were 90 preps; in only six short years 90 grade sixes will be looking for a high school in this area. Where are they going to go?