The 2008 school year starts today with the highest number of new public schools opening in Western Australia for 30 years.
Visiting Rockingham Beach Primary School today, Education and Training Minister Mark McGowan said the start of the new school year had also seen a considerable decline in the number of teacher vacancies from 134 last Wednesday, to 79 today, of which 27 were under offer.
Mr McGowan said the vacancies, which represented less than 0.4 per cent of the State’s 21,500 strong teaching workforce, were mainly for secondary teachers in the areas Design and Technology, Physical Education and science learning areas.
“It is encouraging to start the 2008 school year with 58 full-time vacancies and 21 part-time,” he said.
“This represents a significant improvement on the figures released last week, and a massive improvement on the figures we had last year.
“We will continue to use all our efforts to address this situation for the long term.
“I can assure parents that all regular classes will have access to a teacher.”
There were slightly more vacancies in the country (45), compared with the metropolitan area (34).
The Minister said today also marked the beginning of a new era for 11 new schools - more than in any school year since 1978.
There were seven new primary and four new secondary schools opening over the coming months, worth a combined total of $170.1million.
“We have built, planned and announced 65 new schools since coming to Government in 2001,” he said.
Primary schools opening today include Bletchley Park Primary School in Southern River, and Ellen Stirling Primary School in Ellenbrook, as well as Hocking, South Halls Head and Waikiki Primary schools.
In addition, more than 640 students will return to new and upgraded primary school facilities at Bullsbrook District High School.
New secondary schools include Cape Naturaliste College in Vasse, Gilmore College in Kwinana, Wiluna Remote Community School and Atwell College.
In March, 160 students in Years Four to Seven will relocate to the new primary school facilities on the Mount Barker Senior High School site.
“We are committed to building a world class education system,” Mr McGowan said.
“That means giving students the best schools with the best facilities, including classrooms equipped with the latest in computer technology.”
Mr McGowan said the start of the 2008 school year would also mark the beginning of the State’s School Leaving Age legislation, with all 17-year-olds required by law to be at school, studying full-time at TAFE in a traineeship, an apprenticeship or employed in a job with genuine career prospects.
“This legislation will help ensure that all Western Australians are skilled and educated, giving them the best possible opportunities available in our dynamic and booming economy.”
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