Thursday 16 June 2011
Hansard of the Legislative Council
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Education, it is interesting, is my subject today, too. I am going to talk about the very interesting high school museum that we have in my electorate. It is at Riverside on Launceston's northern outskirts and it is called Riverside High School. Why do I call it a museum? Because not much has changed there since it was built in 1962.
When Riverside High School marks its fiftieth anniversary next year the early students who return to the school will be able to take a trip down memory lane because everything will be as it was when they attended school 50 years ago. I will take you on a tour.
We have arrived in the car park, we head in the front door - the issues actually start at the front door - a very unwelcoming failed art deco edifice. On the left, a real step back in time, the principal's office. It is a cubicle with no protection and no security. Next door is the men's staff toilet with 1960s fittings and, I might say for the female principal's discomfort, no soundproofing.
Ms Rattray - What about the female toilets?
Members laughing.
Mr FINCH - Sorry, I did not want to make you all feel bilious. However, on the right-hand side is the school office - wait, it gets better - and because of a lack of space the receptionist has to sit with her back to the door. Only four of the five office staff can work in the office at any one time because it is such a cramped area and they in fact had to cut a desk in half to fit the fourth person in.
Next is the staff room which is too small to hold all the staff. The kitchenette facilities for the staff are inadequate and morning gatherings result in the staff having to sit on the floor. The deputy principal's room has had to be halved to allow a multi-use space used for Muslim children to have a prayer room. An immediate issue exists in one of the kitchen teaching rooms, a home economics room. It has major health issues and drainage problems. The canteen, which is used by more than 400 students each day, is Dickensian with no room for the volunteers to work and it has not been upgraded since the high school was established. The opportunity for healthy eating, teaching and food preparation is limited because there is no preparation space. Food has to be brought in especially prepared.
The main art room is an old workshop and a dungeon. If you want to make a film there, it will be quite interesting and quite an eyesore as well. The gymnasium, used not only by the school but also by the community, has a splintered and cracked floor requiring immediate renovation. It is very dangerous. We are talking of a building built early in the 1960s, Mr Deputy President, so there is an asbestos problem. Passageways in B block that contain asbestos cannot be repaired. Tape is being used to hold down the disintegrating floor tiles. Riverside High School is a perfect movie set for a run-down period piece of 50 years ago.
Mrs Taylor - What did they do with their stimulus money?
Mr FINCH - Sorry?
Mrs Taylor - What did they do with the stimulus money from the Federal Government that every school got?
Mr FINCH - No stimulus money, not for a high school.
Ms Rattray - Yes.
Mrs Taylor - Absolutely.
Mr FINCH - Well, not for this high school.
Ms Rattray - Everyone got money.
Mr FINCH - Not for this high school. Come and have a look. I will get to that in a minute.
Riverside High School has achieved outstanding academic and sporting success. It is a credit to the dedicated staff that in such a poor environment they keep their students at a very high achievement level. Last year in fact 12 students were in the State's top 1 per cent for academic achievement.
I present sports awards each year to children from the school who have represented the State in sport. The year before last year I gave out 54, and in 2010 I gave out 51. They were students who have represented the State in sport. The principal, Mrs Roxanne House, and the staff demonstrate strong leadership in this adverse environment.
I will say there is talk of experimenting with a middle school at Riverside, although the school community is less than enthusiastic. Putting grades 5 to 8 in a new building would leave 500 senior students in substandard facilities. Riverside High School is in a rapidly growing catchment area. That includes Legana, which is almost a town in itself. It is tipped to quadruple in size.
Our community on the West Tamar is a stable, mostly two-parent family community which demographically would be described as middle class but it is on a very busy highway. That itself has significant traffic hazards but it is situated on 15 acres of river flats. There is plenty of potential for expansion or additional facilities and the Riverside High School is awaiting the education revolution, Mr Deputy President.