SMALL SCHOOLS: Wilsons Creek Public School P&C; Secretary Sharon McGrath (in black) with local mother Lanie Loughlin and their children.
SMALL SCHOOLS: Wilsons Creek Public School P&C; Secretary Sharon McGrath (in black) with local mother Lanie Loughlin and their children. Veda Dante

School plan under fire

A NSW Department of Education and Communities policy reform that allows for the linking of small schools with a larger off-site school, removing the role of principal has been slammed by communities across the Northern Rivers.

This comes after last week's reclassification of the role of principal to that of teaching principal in all PP5 and PP6 schools.

Ocean Shores Public School principal Chris Hauritz said the role of small-school principals was "extremely complex" and that any decision to change the way they operated needed to be negotiated with the community.

"I believe on the majority of issues parents want to deal directly with the person who has regular contact with their children and understands each individual circumstance. That person best positioned to do this is the principal of that school," he said.

Mr Hauritz said a "one- size fits all model" does not take into account the particular needs of each school. This type of model needs a great deal more discussion and reflection and should not be tabled as part of a salaries agreement," he said.

Wilsons Creek Public School P&C secretary Sharon McGrath said concerned parents and community members saw the State Liberal Government's proposal as a threat to the small-school model "which is repeatedly demonstrated by research as being the best environment for educational achievement".

"Removing the role of principal from small schools undermines student outcomes, teacher support, parent involvement and community representation," Ms McGrath said. "This poses a grave risk to the viability of small schools, which must be protected for this generation and those to come."

Lanie Loughlin, whose two children attend Wilson Creek Public School, said parents valued principal Wil Constable "beyond his role as a financial manager".

"Our small-school principal provides leadership. He provides vital links between families, communities, and service providers throughout our region; he advocates for student opportunities specific to their needs and location, opportunities that families in more populated areas may take for granted," Ms Loughlin said.

"Without someone in this role, students could become increasingly marginalised and disadvantaged. It is highly unlikely that the principal of a hub school, detached geographically, and with no relationship to the school community or students, could do the role justice."- Veda Dante


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