Springbank to remain open with Unley zone to expand

Springbank Secondary College will remain open, the Minister for Education has confirmed.

The school will become an unzoned school, with the entirety of the existing Springbank zone being incorporated into the Unley High School zone from 2021.

The decision follows a three month review, presented to the Minister earlier this week, considering the best interests of current and future students living in the Springbank Secondary College zone as well as those currently attending the school.

Under the changes, Springbank’s unzoned status means that it can encourage enrolments from anywhere in South Australia, similar to nearby Urrbrae Agricultural High School and Mitcham Girls High School. It will benefit from a $10 million investment in its built infrastructure which will support the school’s pursuit of excellence in its focus areas.

Unley High School’s expanded zone will be supported by existing building works, due to be completed in time for Year 7s arriving in High School in 2022, which will expand the capacity of the school from around 1200 at present to at least 1700.

Almost 300 community submissions to the review were received, coming from a broad section of the community within the existing Springbank zone.

Education Minister John Gardner said he expects the decision will be welcomed by thousands of families in the local community.

“The review just concluded has been extremely beneficial in helping us resolve the best way forward for Springbank Secondary College, Unley High School and the broader local community,” said Minister Gardner.

“Our priority has always been to ensure that current and future generations of students in these suburbs have access to high-quality public education.

“Submissions to the review – and to me personally since the review was announced – have made two things very clear. The first is that the overwhelming majority of families in the area would prefer to have a guaranteed place at Unley High School, as their preferred comprehensive style public school.

“Secondly it is very clear that there is a smaller, but significant, group of families in the local and broader community who particularly value the culture at Springbank Secondary College, and want the educational approach it offers to be available for their children too.

“Submissions to the review included a wide range of suggestions – including a merger of the schools, a shared zone, support for closure and arguments for keeping the school open in a revised format. There was very little, if any, support for the existing arrangement of Springbank maintaining its current zone.

“The Review Committee did an outstanding job of engaging with the community in a difficult time, through COVID restrictions, and collaborating to present a series of options to me to consider as Minister. While they did offer a formal recommendation, as required under the Act, it was extremely helpful that they put forward suggestions in their submission for me to consider in the circumstance of either the school staying open or closing.

“Together with the broad range of nearly 300 formal submissions, which I have read this week, and further advice from the Department for Education on the feasibility of some of the suggestions, I am very grateful to everyone who has taken the time to share their views.

“In the coming weeks and months, the Department for Education will work with the Springbank Secondary College to scope the capital works which will enhance the school’s built form, and to support the development and broad public awareness of the school’s focus areas.

“We will also work with Unley High School to ensure that the enrolment approaches for the school from 2021 will support the needs of prospective students in the enlarged zone.

“As a result of this extensive work, informed by broad community input, I am confident that we have now arrived at the best possible long term solution to meet the needs of students in the local community, as well as those at Springbank Secondary College.”