A HIGHFIELDS High School has come a virtual step closer with the April 29 launch of the www.highfieldshighschool.com.au website.
The website is a non-political focal point for the community and families who would like their children to attend a Highfields State High School. It provides the reports which have been compiled supporting the need for the school, information on the criteria to establish a high school, milestones so far, family snapshots of those affected by the lack of a high school in Highfields.
Website founder and long-term advocate for the school, Bronwyn Cairns, says the website gets information into the community about the need for the high school to be built and provides an avenue for people to become involved in the campaign. “The site has a link to an e-petition which closes on August 1, and also to a Facebook page which allows people to register their support of the cause,” Mrs Cairns said. “I am often asked what people can do to help achieve the high school and this provides everyone with a way to show their support.”
Pressure from the community for a state high school in Highfields contributed to the state government purchase in March last year of land on O’Brien Road as the site for a future high school.
“Various discussions with both politicians and state government staff have revealed that they don’t believe Highfields has the numbers yet to justify the school being built. We need to demonstrate to the state government just how big the demand is and how many families desperately need access to a state high school in Highfields,” she said.
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District High School statistics
The 2006 census showed 922 high school students residing in the main catchment area or Highfields State High School, and a further 211 in the additional catchment area (Crows Nest for grades 11 & 12). The population growth of the area as stated by the Office of Economic & Statistical Research per annum from 2001-2009 was 5.9%. This equates to 1,120 high school students in the main catchment area in 2010.
At the “Day 8” 2010 School Census, the enrolments of the Primary Schools in the catchment area were:
Highfields State School – 806
Geham State School – 122
Meringandan State School – 157
Goombungee State School – 123
Mary Mackillop Catholic School – 405
This was a total of 1,613 primary school students enrolled in the Main Catchment area.
With students currently attending a variety of schools in Toowoomba, projections show Mt Lofty numbers would not drop significantly. An Enrolment Management Plan for the Mt Lofty campus is currently in place due enrolment numbers becoming unsustainably high. This has already forced numbers down and has severely restricted choice for a large number of students.
Highfields State High School would allow the removal of this Enrolment Management Plan and allow students in Toowoomba greater freedom of choice.
On average in Queensland, 77% of students attending state primary schools attend a state secondary school. Data collected over a number of years from Highfields State School shows a much lower attendance at state secondary schools – as low as 39% in some years.
This is not indicative of numbers that would attend a state high school in Highfields, but rather of the large number of choices available when having to attend school in Toowoomba. It also reflects a concerted effort by Toowoomba State High School, Mt Lofty campus to reduce its student population through its enrolment management plan.