Split campus has teachers under stress at John Tonkin College

John Tonkin College teachers expressed their frustration at a forum on Thursday night, where education minister Peter Collier discussed the findings of a survey on the school’s split campus.

The survey was open to all the community and asked questions about whether the school should remain split with years 7-9 on the Tindale campus and years 10-12 on the MET campus, or whether the school should merge back to one site.

Information technology teacher Andy Bleach said moving between two campuses was a huge stress on teachers.

“We duplicate everything in the school, we duplicate across both sites, everything is doubled, except teachers,” he said.

He said being stretched over both sites meant teachers wasted a lot of time on travelling between the two.

“They have to rush, they’re stressed, there’s the issue of getting to a class on time,” he said.

“But the number one thing that’s affecting all these teachers is behavior management. 

“You can’t follow up on a student, if you’re on that site, but only on this site, for, you know, half a day.”

Chair of John Tonkin College’s board Rhys Williams echoed these concerns.

“Whilst we may be talking about what we need to do for the future, the reality is we need to find a way to alleviate that stress next year, at the beginning of the year, and we need to find a way to alleviate the pressure on the school budget next year,” he said.

“What are we going to do in the meantime to make sure the school’s got the resources it needs to adequately provide the education?”

352 community members completed the education department’s survey, and while most respondents were from younger families, older families, families with no children, and families with no school aged children were also represented.

54 per cent of respondents said they would like to see the two campuses consolidated, while 46 per cent said they would prefer the school to remain split.

The survey results noted that respondents with school-age children were more likely to opt for the continuation of the split campus system.

However, two parents in attendance said they had no idea about teachers moving between campuses, and said they would’ve responded to the survey differently if they’d had more information.

Local member and JTC Education Support Centre board member David Templeman said that though it was great to see the education minister showing interest in the region, the survey had not considered the Education Support Centre, which is also located at the MET campus.

“Its future will ultimately be tied to any future of what happens here… but that entity does feel left outo f the discussion,” Mr Templeman said.

Mr Collier said from the results of the survey he was not yet convinced either way, and that far more community consultation was needed before a decision was made.

“I don’t want to manufacture an outcome,” he said.

“I would like to think that over the next twelve months, a decision will be made, but that will not be done without a lot more consultation with the boards, the local primary schools, and the wider community.”

He said that if a combined site was to be considered, it would have to be on the Tindale site because the MET site is “just too small”, though many parents in the survey indicated they liked the MET site better as it was more modern and situated close to the TAFE and university.

“If it were to be on the Tindale site, it would not be the Tindale site in its current form,” Mr Collier said.

“It would be a dramatically different campus. The campuses of 2016 are a lot different to this, let me tell you.”