AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

A policy study of the maintenance of small high schools as individual organizations in a situation of contracting enrolments

by John L. Wells

Institution: University of Canberra
Year: 1980
Keywords: small high schools; enrolments; ACT; Australian Capital Territory; ACT Schools Authority; government schools
Record ID: 1487203
Full text PDF: http://erl.canberra.edu.au./public/adt-AUC20061113.132508


The Report of the Field Study is a descriptive record of:- (i) the development of the A.C.T. Schools Authority according to a particular philosophy and operational structure of devolution of responsibility to schools and community participation in decision making at school and system level. (ii) the impact which changes in government policy in the areas of (a) growth of the Australian Public Service and Canberra (b) funding of the A.C.T. government schools have on the A.C.T. Schools Authority operations. (iii) the mechanism by which policy is being developed for the maintenance of small high schools as individual organizations in a situation of contracting enrolments. The functions of the A.C.T. Schools Authority are, amongst others, to establish and conduct,pre schools, primary schools, high schools and secondary colleges. In 1980 there were 165 schools and of these only three were outside the city of Canberra. During the 1960's Canberra underwent extensive expansion of the city boundaries because of rapid increases in population as a result of government policy in establishing the city as the seat of government. Government departments were moved from rented premises in other cities to new purpose built buildings in Canberra. Economic conditions and government funding supported all aspects of the expansion as it continued into the '70's. The government school building programme was one of many which had to be integrated into the city growth plan. In 1960 there were three secondary schools, in 1970 there were nine and in 1980 there were twenty three. This Field Study is concerned with the A.C.T. Schools Authority's approach to its responsibilities under the following changed circumstances. 1. Change in growth rate of Canberra. From 1976, as a result of a change in government policy and in different economic conditions and policies there was a dramatic and unpredicted decrease in the rate of population increase. Movement of government departments to Canberra was severely curtailed and the service industries and building industries consequently also dramatically reduced their expansion. By 1978 there was evidence of a severe contraction in these industries and the growth of Canberra in the 60's to mid 70's had changed to a no-growth and then a decline. 2. Schools with small enrolments. Added to the nil or very slow population increase in some suburbs is the decline in the number of school age children in the inner suburbs of the city resulting in schools accommodating down to half of their previous numbers of students and the completion of school buildings in the as yet underpopulated outer suburbs. This latter situation developed because the lead time required for the planning and building of new schools is such that irreversible decisions had been made in the context of the population growth period and…