Small school, big heart: ex-student
AFTER being a student at nearly 20 Queensland schools there is one that stands out for all the right reasons for Warwick's Melissa Looker.
The 36-year-old mother of four finished her primary education at her “favourite” small school 70km from Goondiwindi.
Today that same school, Kioma State School, faces closure after the State Government announced a review of its viability.
An Education Queensland spokesman said the single- teacher school - one of the few remaining in our region - was experiencing “declining and low enrolments” and had poor “forward growth estimates”.
But it is a clinical approach to a school that has historically been the hub of a local community and renown for its spirit.
“I went to 20 different schools, but Kioma was the best, I have the fondest memories of my four years there,” Ms Looker said.
“We were a very proud school; we excelled at sports day; everyone played together and knew each other.
“There was a strong sense of belonging and community.”
For Ms Looker there was also the added educational benefit of smaller student-to- teacher ratio.
When she started there were 30 students but when she graduated in 1985 numbers had slipped to just 12.
“My parents worked on a station and we travelled about an hour by bus to Kioma,” Ms Looker said.
“Now I don't think many people want to do hard physical work anymore so there aren't as many families in the bush.”
Closer to home, Wheatvale State School P&C's Leonie McMahon warned the long-term future of smaller schools was endangered.
“Small schools need to be supported because they offer an invaluable learning environment,” she said.
“Smaller student teacher rations mean more one-on-one teacher time and greater attention to individual student needs.
“Smaller enrolments also inevitably mean greater parental involvement in school communities, which creates a very personal environment.”
Mrs McMahon questioned the rationale of Federal Government funding, which poured $850,000 into buildings at schools like Wheatvale, but left teachers with inadequate pay.
“I know it is a State Government issue, but they need to know we need quality teachers, especially in small schools, and they need an incentive to stay in their profession,” she said.
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