School crisis meeting

Parents threaten walkout over falling grades

A CRISIS meeting has been called after parents threatened to pull their kids out of North Perth Primary School over bad grades.

Parents hit the roof after a scathing education department inquiry found the school’s youngest students were under-performing because of a raft of internal problems, including confusion over the curriculum.

The inquiry was sparked by the school’s NAPLAN results, which have been dropping since 2014.

Year 3 students were singled out for a “sharp decline” in 2015 which saw them fall behind in four out of five assessment areas, despite living in a top-tier socio-economic community.

Perth Labor MP John Carey organised the meeting between parents and the department (due yesterday, Friday, September 14) after “an ongoing stream” of complaints.

Distressed

It was to be held in his electoral office, but has been moved to North Perth Town Hall because of the number of parents wanting answers.

“I’ve had some parents so distressed they are now looking at sending their child to a private school or have indicated leaving the neighbourhood,” Mr Carey says.

The Labor MP says he’s “not trying to create alarm” but hasn’t had any issues like this with other schools in the electorate.

Parents were initially told they could only read the inquiry report in principal Karen Lockyer’s office, but after complaints she agreed to send out hard copies on request.

One parent, who wanted to stay anonymous, says the issue “brought things to a head”.

“This isn’t just about NAPLAN,” he says.

“There’s been a long build up to this and the sense of frustration has been quite large for a while.

“The report struck home with people because it confirmed what they’d thought for a long time, that there’d been some issues around the school.”

The report found the school wasn’t communicating well with parents, leaving them unclear about what their kids were learning and unable to give them a leg-up at home.

”The low level performance is particularly concerning given that in general, students arriving at the school are well prepared,” it said.

“Staff find it difficult to explain the school’s key curriculum directions or expectations regarding standards of instruction.”

Not enough effort was made to ensure students made a seamless transition from year to year, while academically gifted children fell through the cracks.

Petition

The parent says a petition has been drafted in case parents were unhappy with the outcome of Friday’s meeting, but wouldn’t reveal its contents.

“The community really needs to see some action now, and see it happen very quickly,” he said.

“The children who are affected don’t have all the time in the world, we can’t afford a two- or three-year recovery, it needs to be instant.”

Paul Meacock, the education department’s north metro assistant executive director, says the school has a great foundation to build on and he’s confident the inquiry “paves the way for exciting improvement and growth”.

“The school’s leadership team and staff now have a blueprint to follow with clear strategies, and will focus on key areas including student achievement, professional development for staff, and strong relationships within the school community,” he says.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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