School Zoning (6)


That determination was based on whatever work the former government had done, and obviously the former government's cabinet determinations are not available for new governments to investigate. The new government came to power in March, and obviously one of our election commitments was to move year 7 into high school, rather than being in the generalist learning model in primary schools—that 20th century learning model, which the Labor Party had determined was in the best interests of our students.

We on this side noted that the Australian Curriculum expects that year 7s in Australia will be taught their subjects in line with the Curriculum in a specialist learning environment that is in a high school setting with the specialist subject teachers, such as one finds in high school. That was the basis of the year 7 policy, and the series of bodies of work were then sought from the education department to determine in what fashion that could best be done, and that work was done throughout last year.

That work included a series of reports that were worked up, including independent demographic modelling. One of the things that was noted as part of the independent demographic modelling, and indeed the work provided by the education department about capacity, was that even were year 7s not being moved into high school then there would seriously be a major capacity stretch on our schools in years 8 to 12 in certain schools, and a good deal of that information, the relevant parts, is now in the public domain.

Adelaide High, for example, has capacity for 1,450 students. As a result of the new zone then that is currently over capacity and is anticipated, under the current zoning arrangements, to require a capacity of over 2,400 with the addition of year 7s in the coming years. That would have required a significant investment, which would have dwarfed any of the other investments that are available for any schools in the South Australian system.

One of the key things that you have to remember is that, when we were presented with the information about the capacity challenges at the very end of last year, this was disappointing and it was somewhat surprising. It was built on a range of reasons why public school enrolments from reception-year 1 have been significantly increased over the last seven years, and this capacity stretch has been pushing our primary schools for some time.

Since primary school enrolment has increased from an average of about 10,000 to 11,500 a year to the 14,000 a year that we are seeing now over the last seven years, that cohort of students is about to hit high schools. Why the former government had not done this work beforehand is beyond me because the simple fact is that even without year 7 coming in there would have been pressures on Adelaide High that would have required difficult decisions to be made.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order!

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: But when we were presented with this we were faced with no choice. In fact, the only choice we had had was either cancel those specialist programs, which make Adelaide and Adelaide Botanic High what they are and which was such an important equity measure in the system, or else make the difficult zoning decision that has had to be made.

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Order! Before I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I call the following members to order: the member for Wright, the member for Badcoe, the member for Hurtle Vale and the member for Waite. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has the call.