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 

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