Premier censures outspoken principal
Premier censures outspoken principal

Colin Barnett launched a scathing attack on a school principal yesterday because he wrote a letter telling parents the school had not received funding in this year's Budget for much-needed capital works.

Mr Barnett told Parliament it had been inappropriate for John Curtin College of the Arts head Mitchell Mackay to send out a "politically charged document" on school stationery this week.

Mr Mackay, the runner-up principal of the year last year, said in the letter the school had significant health and safety problems that put children and staff at risk.

He said that despite being identified by the Education Department as the high school most in need of renovation, the only funding allocated was to provide accommodation for Year 7s.

In response to a question from shadow education minister Paul Papalia on what the Government was doing to address the significant health and safety issues at the school, Mr Barnett summarised a list of recent works, including a theatre and science laboratories.

He said he agreed the school was old and needed new facilities, but took exception to the principal's actions.

"I do not believe it is open to a principal to send an item of correspondence on school letterhead, which is clearly inflammatory, clearly has a political tone to it and that is not appropriate," he said.

"It is not the standard that this Government accepts, because it is not up to a principal to go out with a politically charged document like that. It is up to a principal to raise those issues with the director-general, or indeed the minister, or indeed the Premier."

John Curtin College council chairman Robin Pascoe said concerns had been raised through the proper channels with Education director-general Sharyn O'Neill and Education Minister Liz Constable.

"And we would welcome the Premier to see for himself the issues that have been raised," he said.

Mr Papalia said outside Parliament it had been an extraordinary attack on a highly respected head of an independent public school, which was an initiative of the Barnett Government to give principals more autonomy to act in the interests of their community.

Physical education teachers have raised concerns about the standard of school ovals, saying some are in such poor condition they are unsafe or unsuitable.

The heads of physical education at 12 senior high schools wrote to the Education Department late last year to urge it to carefully consider the impact of a new contract for maintenance and mowing of school ovals.

"It is our belief that both curriculum delivery and pursuit of physical activity is being underachieved, restricted or compromised purely for the lack of a suitable playing surface that requires a regular and comprehensive maintenance program," the letter said.

Education Department infrastructure executive director John Fischer said that about 60 per cent of school ovals were infested with Parramatta grass, which caused uneven playing surfaces. <div class="endnote">


The West Australian

Popular videos

Our Picks

Follow Us

More from The West