THURSDAY 18 JUNE 2020
PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE: JOHN PIRIE SECONDARY SCHOOL REDEVELOPMENT
The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (11:09): I would also like to speak on this redevelopment and pay tribute to the 2017 education department capital works program, where it was first mooted. I thank the previous minister, the Hon. Susan Close at that particular stage, and I thank the current minister, the Hon. John Gardner, for allowing this project to continue on through the process. I was not able to attend the Public Works Committee due to COVID-19, but I certainly thank them for putting this through the process.
This school has had a great transformation over the last few years. Some of the buildings to be replaced under this $10.6 million project were transportable buildings that were there when I attended the school, and that is many years ago. That is how long this project has taken and the sorts of buildings the students of Port Pirie have had to contend with over many years. It is good to see that those buildings will now be removed from the site, providing better opportunities for not only the students but also the teachers.
Over many years, the school has had a bad reputation, until the last few years, when Roger Nottage, the current principal, came in from Port Broughton Area School. The transformation of the image of that school has improved dramatically, not only the aesthetics and the image from the outside but also the attitude and confidence of the students and the people who send their young kids to the school.
This school will now be a state-of-the-art teaching facility with a great STEM facility. As part of the redevelopment, they are going to convert the old power station—from a time when the Port Pirie city council had its own power supply before it went to ETSA—to a hall with seating that people from the arts will be able to use. You have to remember that in education everyone wants a different vocation going forward—some people want to go into acting and into the arts, and some want to go into music—and this facility will certainly provide an opportunity for kids who want to go in that direction.
There are many children in our state who may have issues, whether it is a health or behavioural issue or not being able to concentrate or attend mainstream classes. The school has a FLO program, which allows children who have trouble attending school because of their social background or whatever it may be, to be taken aside, put through another program and tutored basically on an individual basis. Those children are now excelling.
I know that for a fact because some parents have come to my office and indicated that their children or grandchildren had issues attending school because of behavioural issues and things like that, and, to the school’s credit, they transformed those children to be able to come into the mainstream and gave them opportunities to enter the workforce. I could name five or maybe eight of those children straightaway (but I will not do that) who have gone through this process and been able to get work in the outside world, and I think that is very good.
Education is one of those things that some people take for granted. I did not have the opportunity to go any further than year 10 because of circumstances with my parents and things like that. Certainly, I want our children, no matter where they are, to have the best teaching facilities, the best opportunities and the best teachers in order to give them an opportunity because our world is changing dramatically. It is changing rapidly, and we need to make certain those opportunities are there.
Again, I am very honoured to be the local member and also to have been part of the transformation of this school, working with the education department—with not only the current principal but previous principals—and with the community up there to make certain that the John Pirie Secondary School is renowned for its ability and the students going through the school.
The minister was there for the STEM opening, and we did an experiment (and I am not too sure whether or not minister Gardner was trying to get rid of me) where it looked as though you were blowing flames out of your mouth and we took a photograph of it. It was certainly something I was very hesitant to do, and I asked the minister to go first. He said, ‘No, you will go first, just in case there is an issue,’ so I was the guinea pig.
We certainly had a good time there, and I am sure the minister would agree with me that the behaviour, the attitude and the appearance of the students and the surrounds of the school were first class. Again, I thank everybody involved—the previous government and this government—for allowing this to go through. I am indebted to the Public Works Committee for finally approving it, and I am looking forward to the future direction of those kids and the success of the students attending the school.