Herald Sun 11th July 2017 - firstname.lastname@example.org
GIFTED students could be pushed out of accelerated programs as the Education Department enforces enrolment caps at top-performing public schools.
Box Hill High School has been told it must pare back its student numbers from about 1350 this year to 1200.
It will force the school to cut its accelerated program for students outside its neighbourhood zone next year.
The peak body that represents 38 public schools with accelerated programs said a number of schools in the western suburbs faced similar challenges.
Box Hill High School accepts about 200 year 7 students from within its zone and 50 students for an accelerated SEAL — select entry accelerated learning — program each year.
“We know we could fit the students in,” school council president Marcus Balon said.
“We have never not taken a zoned student because of a SEAL student. They take priority. But I am getting calls from so many students and parents who are distressed about what is going on because they’ve lost the opportunity to attend Box Hill High School.
“Let us do what we do well.”
Box Hill High School has been told to cut its student numbers from about 1350 this year to 1200.
Mr Balon said if the school was to remain under the cap, its zone would eventually have to be reduced as high-rise development increased student numbers.
It has had applications for more portables rejected and is now using money it raised to convert a hall to multipurpose classrooms.
The Education Department said the school would hit its “capacity” enrolling only students within the zone or with a sibling already there.
“Increasing enrolments mean it is important families living inside the school’s designated neighbourhood boundary are given first preference to access the accelerated learning program next year,” the department said.
Thirty-eight Victorian public schools run SEAL programs.
The Education Department stopped accrediting SEAL programs in 2012.
Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling said the government should focus more on improving students’ ability to read, write and count.
“(Premier) Daniel Andrews should stop punishing school communities,” he said.
Academy of Accredited SEAL Schools executive officer Rob Newton said the government had “turned its back” on accelerated classes, despite promoting sport and art programs at other schools.
“Gifted kids are neglected by this government,” he said.
“If we provide a place where the gifted kids can be together they are going to be more supported, less bullied and less harassed.
“There are a number of schools in the western suburbs that have been instructed that they can’t take SEAL students because of capacity.”
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