BRIGHTON Council has a clear vision for the future of education in the municipality that sees increased opportunities for students and enhanced educational outcomes for our young people and for Tasmania.
Council’s vision is built on the good work of the existing Jordan River Learning Federation (JRLF), with the School Farm progressing to become a centre of excellence for agricultural and horticultural learning and the development of the promised new high school in Brighton.
The vision is a positive response to the current and future needs of the Brighton community and is in line with the State Government’s education framework. It is supported by the extensive work by Council officers, planners and expert consultants, as well as input from the local community and businesses and growers within the region.
It secures the future of the JRLF School Farm and enables it to expand both its footprint and its educational offerings on a more appropriate site close to the Brighton township and through meaningful partnerships with the local rural community, provide employment-ready animal husbandry and horticultural learning.
A key is the relocation of the school farm to a site, still close to the Brighton town centre, but one that can cater for agricultural and horticultural education on-site, with room to grow and without long term conflict with neighbouring properties and without ongoing risk due to ever-tightening environmental health regulations for residential and urban areas.
The new Brighton High School could then be developed on the current School Farm site which is large enough to include all the facilities expected of a modern high school, such as ovals and sports grounds, an indoor gymnasium, assembly areas and open spaces.
There are obvious advantages.
With the new high school developed adjacent to the existing Brighton Primary School, it provides significant efficiencies and would maximise the number of students able to walk or cycle to school, creating a healthier community as well as providing cost and time savings to both local families and the school itself. The size of the site and the dual frontage with Brighton Road, provides the opportunity to resolve current traffic and parking issues at Brighton Primary School, through the design of new roads or access ways, and internal car and bus access and parking.
Importantly, the site is within a safe and slow traffic environment, infrastructure and services are established and it is superior for ensuring the necessary high levels of passive surveillance, safety and security for the school and its students.
The development of the new high school on the site would maximise its integration with the township and the community, help to activate the town centre and improve local business opportunities and viability, as well as provide students with ready access to local services.
Council says there are no alternate sites for the new high school in Brighton, while there are a number of potential farm sites, in rural areas close to Brighton, better able to meet the needs of a school farm and agricultural and horticultural learning. Council could purchase the land and provide a long-term lease to the Education Department, so reducing the capital cost of the relocation.
Moving the school farm to a nearby rural site more in keeping with a genuine centre for agricultural and horticultural learning would allow it to expand upon its core activities and mission, as well as provide long-term security, free of the threats of land use conflict or environmental health issues associated with operating in an urban location.
Council’s vision is in line with the State Government’s Tasmanian Agricultural Education Framework. It aims to increase the integration between the School Farm, the Trade Training Centre system and industry, and to consolidate the facility into a regional agricultural education hub. It is based on genuine agricultural and horticultural education that leads to qualifications, valued experience and skills, and ultimately employment opportunities for graduating students within one of our region’s growth sectors.
Council has identified several sites close to the Brighton township better able to accommodate agricultural and horticultural education on-site, that would provide the school farm with room to grow so avoiding the present need to lease land and agist animals away from the main campus.
A rural location would encourage meaningful partnerships and supportive relationships with the local farming, agricultural and horticultural communities.
Council greatly respects the history of the school farm and its value to education and the community. This can be enhanced through the establishment of a school farm provedore or produce market and café on the existing site, thereby maintaining a long-term presence in the town centre.
The State Government has allocated $4.3 million to enhance the Jordan River Learning Federation School Farm and has promised $30 million to develop the new Brighton High School. It is imperative that this investment is not wasted and that it provides the very best education outcomes for students and the community.
It makes little sense to spend money on a farm school in the middle of an urban area and force an urban high school into a rural area, when a superior option is available.
Brighton Council’s vision is a clear response to this.
It will bring the JRLF School Farm and the Brighton citizens closer together, create a vibrant institution of community pride and one that adds to the bright future being built for the Brighton municipality.
State Treasury has forecast that Brighton will be Tasmania’s fastest growing municipality over the next two and a half decades, with the population predicted to rise as high as 24,300 in that time. It is vital that the services and facilities are provided to cater for the population growth.
The provision of appropriate education opportunities is key to any healthy and growing community, but the development of these opportunities must meet the communities needs and desires and be suitable for the long term.
Council has consulted with the community, sought expert advice and has responded with its vision for the future. The State Government and the Education Department must now work cooperatively with Council to deliver the right outcome, not one that may appear to satisfy current noisy political demands, but one that best serves the Brighton community for decades to come.