SKYHigh Newsletter – April 2016

2016 – 3 months in a blink
While the SKYHigh committee appear to have been publicly quiet over the first few months of 2016, we have been actively working in the background with the Footscray Learning Precinct  (FLP) Steering Group and engaging in the stakeholder consultation process with feasibility consultants, Aurecon (http://www.aurecongroup.com).

We have collated the results of our survey from December 2015 with a summary presented to the FLP Steering Group (a summary of the results are at the bottom of this newsletter).

We are looking forward to continuing an ongoing engagement in the learning precinct process and will continue to update the SKY community of progress.

 

Footscray Learning Precinct Steering Group update
The Footscray Learning Precinct Steering Group meets monthly with a focus on updates on the process and progress, assessing educational examples that align with the stated vision and plenty of robust stakeholder discussion.  With such a broad stakeholder representation in the group, the range of ideas (and challenges) discussed in the meetings shows high level engagement to create great learning opportunities for our diverse community in the inner west.

The first FLP Steering Group newsletter has been circulated to us, and is now available to read.  This outlines the current working group focus and next steps in the feasibility process.

 

Input into stakeholder engagement
SKYHigh met with Aurecon and The Department of Education and Training as an input into the stakeholder consultation, to discuss the key objectives for our community.  This meeting showed that the consultation remit is broad and was serving to represent the broader community and not simply the key players in education in the inner west.

The SKYHigh committee discussed key SKY outcomes that are expected from this process, which align with the SKYHigh vision.  The below text will be presented to the Steering Group and Aurecon for the next meeting.

SKY Vision
We are a community group working towards increased public, all-inclusive secondary college places in Melbourne’s inner west that will benefit all children in SKY and surrounding school communities. This is an issue about school location and improving opportunities and pathways for all children.

The SKYHigh community would like to see reflected in the Learning Precinct:

  • A learning precinct that provides additional capacity in the school network for families in Seddon, Kingsville, Yarraville and other suburbs in the inner-west;
  • Provision of more choice for quality education options for families within the inner west;
  • Development of locations that are easily and safely accessible, can be commuted to by bike, public transport and walking, that don’t exceed State recommended secondary school travel distances;
  • A process that is inclusive, and encourages SKY community participation in the learning precinct to enable continuation of the cohesive networks that exists in our primary schools.

SKY High has represented community views for more than 12 years.  We welcome the vision of the Learning Precinct that will deliver consistent, dynamic, integrated and high quality education from early childhood to tertiary and training services for people in the inner west.

 

SKYHigh Survey
In late 2015, the SKYHigh working group conducted a survey of its membership to reaffirm the group’s collective education intentions and aspirations.  Over 400 families from the broader SKY community responded to the survey with 80% identifying Seddon, Kingsville or Yarraville as their home suburb.

Respondents reported 777 pre-school or school aged children through the survey, with 86% of respondents indicating an intention to send their children to a public high school.  When sending their children to school, only 11% of respondents said they were willing for their children to travel to another metropolitan area (other than the inner-west).  Respondents had a strong preference for their children to walk or ride to school, followed by public transport, both a long way ahead of driving.

Tellingly, a majority of respondents would move from the SKY area to be closer to a public high school.

An associated set of presentation slides has been published by SKYHigh.

 

Why Footscray Learning Precinct?
Whilst the Footscray Learning Precinct is an innovative and exciting concept, SKY High wants this to be inclusive for all people in the inner west.  Part of ensuring this is the case, is what it is called.  The name of the new Learning Precinct, which will be a legacy for generations to come, is critical to achieving this.

We would like to see the education precinct to be aligned with the overall vision which is to provide great education and training opportunities for people of the inner west.  While this does not align with our SKY focus, it better represents the inclusive nature of the learning precinct and represented geography and allows the emphasis to be on great learning outcomes.

SKY High calls on Minister Dixon to support the plan for a new high school in the inner west

Read our letter calling on the Napthine government to support the plan in the lead-up to the November state election:

 

Mr Martin Dixon
Minister for Education
2 Treasury Place
Melbourne VIC 3000

Dear Minister,

Re: Support for greater high school capacity for Melbourne’s inner west

SKY High Working Group is a community group that represents more than 3,000 members based in the Seddon, Kingsville and Yarraville area. Our value statement is that:

We are a community group working towards increased public, all inclusive secondary college places in Melbourne’s inner west that will benefit all children in SKY and surrounding school communities. This is an issue about school location and improving opportunities and pathways for all children.

Previously you have met with SKY High Working Group, however, a request to meet with you in 2012, still goes unanswered. We have also met with the Upper House Member of Parliament, Bernie Finn in May last year and again in May this year with the aim to meet with you to understand the government’s position on the need for additional capacity in the inner west and on the provision of more public secondary school places. Despite Mr Finn claiming he would secure a meeting with you, a number of follow up emails have been ignored by his office.

As you are no doubt aware, the Opposition recently made a commitment of $15 million towards establishing an education precinct in the SKY area, on the basis of a feasibility study and master planning process. We are seeking your response to this and would be encouraging the government to match this commitment.

As we get closer to the election, SKY High will be publishing to our members a report card on the different parties’ policies regarding public, secondary education in the inner west. We would hope that we can publish a strong response from the government.

The response SKY High has received following the Opposition’s announcement has been strong. On the basis of this, we would strongly urge the government to consider at least matching this commitment.

We look forward to your response

Yours sincerely

Melissa Horne
President, SKY High Working Group

SKY High Welcomes Labor’s Policy to Invest in a New High School in the Inner West

The SKY High Working group today welcomed today’s $15 million commitment by the Victorian Opposition to establish an education precinct including Footscray City Primary, Victoria University, Nicholson Street campus and Footscray City College following the results of a feasibility and master planning process.

President of the SKY High Working Group, Melissa Horne, said Labor had developed an innovative policy that would not only create a great new school for local kids but also had the potential to make local children more aware of a broad range of educational pathways including TAFE and university.

“Without a doubt this is the best plan anyone has ever come up with for children living in our local area,” Ms Horne said.

“It is great that we are being listened to and we welcome this plan for a significant investment in our local community for our local school kids.

“We hope all candidates standing for Footscray or Williamstown at this year’s state election will support this exciting new proposal.”

Ms Horne said the plan was particularly attractive because of the opportunities created through an education precinct that included kindergarten, primary, secondary, tertiary and even post-tertiary students and their educators working with each other.

“This vision will provide a range of opportunities for students of all ages and provide access to facilities that would not otherwise be available,” Ms Horne said.

Ms Horne said the proposal matched SKY High’s values which were endorsed at its most recent Annual General Meeting:

We are a community group working towards increased public, all inclusive secondary college places in Melbourne’s inner west that will benefit all children in SKY and surrounding school communities.  This is an issue about school location and improving opportunities and pathways for all children.

Ms Horne said SKY would expect an active role in the planning and development process, and would represent the interests of SKY High’s 1200 members.  She said SKY High also hopes to work collaboratively with other schools in the local community, including Footscray City College and Footscray Primary School.

“We recognise that while this proposal is at the northern edge of the our community, it is only a six minute bike ride from Yarraville Station and 10 minute bike ride from Kingsville,” Ms Horne said.

Anyone wanting to show their support for a new high school option for kids in the Seddon, Kingsville and Yarraville area should go to www.skyhigh.org.au or https://www.facebook.com/sky.high.now or @sky_high_now

Yarraville Festival: An Outstanding Success for SKY High Community

More than 500 people signed Sky High’s petition to the State government calling on more capacity in the local public highschool network, demonstrating there is a clear need for the State Government to start listening to local residents.

The petition will now be collated and presented to Parliament, before the Government gets into full swing, finalising the Budget in May.

Thank you to everyone who signed!

The petition details are as follows.

The Petition of the residents of Victoria, draws to the attention of the house that:

    • The public primary schools in Seddon, Yarraville and Kingsville have doubled in student numbers in the last 10 years
    • Capacity in surrounding high schools is limited with two of the four closest schools already zoned; and
    • The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development acknowledging that Footscray City Secondary College will need to be zoned in the near future.

The petitioners therefore request that the Legislative Assembly of Victoria immediately start planning to build additional capacity in the inner west public secondary school network.