School size isn’t everything

May 16, 2018

Harston Primary School principal Owen Holleran mows the grass at the school to keep his costs low and provide his students with more opportunities.

The size of a school certainly does not determine the level of education students receive.

But district small school principals came out this week and expressed their concerns about dwindling enrolment numbers.

With just 16 students, Harston Primary School’s principal Owen Holleran highlighted the difficult and uneasy future they faced.

The dwindling numbers in rural schools is not a new phenomenon. Schools that cropped up in small towns during the 1800s have faced closures throughout the country in the intervening years.

At face value, this could be seen as a direct result of development in transport options.

It was once much more difficult to travel 20km to 30km down the road to attend a school with higher enrolment numbers, and there was a need to have primary schools dotted throughout the districts.

Farming communities in particular benefited from these smaller rural schools, with their children catching the bus from large dairy properties.

But with a reduction in industry, this has become a less common situation.

Mr Holleran also noted that enrolment issues could stem from these small rural areas losing their sense of community.

Nearby schools like Ardmona, Dhurringile, Mooroopna North and Zeerust are facing similar situations, looking down the barrel of closure in the years to come.

But while many parents may dismiss these small schools as having less educational value, this is simply not the case.

Yes, small schools do have fewer resources.

It is harder for them to take their students on amazing educational tours or receive visits from big names.

But what they lack in resources, they make up for in diligent, catered education for their students.

Small schools have the ability to provide one-on-one teaching scenarios.

The teachers know their students, their behaviours and learning styles and can cater their teaching methods to suit the students.

Schools with small enrolment numbers often seem to be overlooked when parents are selecting where their child should attend school. But they are also often selected by parents whose children need more attentive care from their teachers.

It would be a crying shame if the Goulburn Valley’s smaller schools were to close as a result of poor enrolment numbers.

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