School Viability Assessment

Version Number

1.2

Implementation Date

3/09/2013

Scope

All state schools

Purpose

This procedure details the Department of Education and Training's (DET’s) annual process for assessing the viability of Queensland state schools. It establishes the circumstances under which a school’s viability will be reviewed and the consultation process that will occur with the community.

The procedure outlines the process undertaken to close a school, should it be considered to not meet viability criteria.

Overview

​Queensland needs an effective and efficient state education system that is sustainable now and in the future. As such, DET will conduct an annual review to assess the viability of Queensland state schools, using the approved viability criteria (refer to Process section). Schools assessed as not meeting the criteria will be referred to the Minister for consideration to close. Under the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (the Act), the Minister is required to advertise all proposed school closures in the Government Gazette at least six months before any official closure. Consultation must occur with the community during the intervening period.

Responsibilities

Infrastructure Strategy, Research and Performance Unit (ISRP)

  • Conduct an annual review to identify and assess the viability of Queensland state schools, using the viability criteria (refer to the Process section)
  • Liaise with Regional Directors regarding the School Viability Assessment
  • Seek Ministerial approval to advertise the proposed school closures in the Government Gazette, in line with the Act, and for consultation to occur with the relevant communities
  • Report outcomes of community consultation and provide recommendations to the Minister

Director-General, DET

  • Support the community consultation process
  • Consider/endorse the recommendations for school closures prior to Ministerial approval

Minister

  • Consider the schools which have been identified in the viability assessment process for proposed closure
  • If supportive, approve proposed school closures to be advertised in the Government Gazette, in line with the Act, and approve for consultation to occur with the community
  • Write to members of the school community (i.e. principal, P&C president, school council, local Member of Parliament, and the Mayor/Council CEO in regional areas) to inform them that their school has been identified for proposed closure
  • Consider the outcomes from the community consultations and determine whether a school should be permanently closed

Regional Directors

  • Liaise with ISRP regarding the School Viability Assessment procedure
  • Lead the community consultation, on behalf of the Minister (N.B. Consultation is a requirement under the Act. As no two school communities are the same, the consultation method/s for each school will be determined at the Regional level on a case-by-case basis. However, consultation may include activities such as: community meetings, calls for written submissions, newsletter articles, advertisements in local newspapers/community bulletins, and/or community service announcements with local broadcast media)
  • Report outcomes of community consultation to ISRP
  • Once a Ministerial decision has been made to close a school, assist the Principal with the transition of students to other schools/education providers.

Principals

  • Assist the RD to facilitate the consultation process
  • If school is approved by the Minister for closure, employ strategies to ensure students and staff transition smoothly to their new school
  • Relocate/transfer/dispose of school records in line with the DET State School ​Closure Checklist (DET employees only).

Process

The School Viability Assessment procedure will be implemented in four stages:

STAGE 1: ANNUAL REVIEW – Term 1
DET will conduct the annual School Viability Assessment. This review involves an analysis of all state schools using the approved viability criteria.

I. Enrolments:

  • Enrolment history (especially past five years) and forecasts for the next five years
  • Number of students attending the school who do not live in the school catchment area

II. Accessibility:

  • Distances and travel times to and from school
  • Access to nearby schools or alternative education programs
  • Transport options and arrangements for the school and neighbouring schools (road networks, bus routes, train routes)

III. Curriculum:

  • Extent of the school’s curriculum and its ability to access suitable educational resources

IV. Resourcing equity:

  • Cost per student per annum and comparison with state schools
  • Numbers, types and conditions of buildings

STAGE 2:  INFORM COMMUNITY AND GAZETTAL – Term 2
Minister approves which schools will be proposed for closure in the current school year and approves for the relevant schools to undergo community consultation. The Minister also informs the relevant school communities, in writing, that they have been identified for proposed closure and will undergo consultation. DET will place a public notice in the Government Gazette to inform the broader community about the proposed closures and the commencement of the consultation period.

STAGE 3: COMMUNITY CONSULTATION – Term 3
Consultation occurs with school communities. Regional Directors will compile a report outlining the outcomes of the community consultation for each school proposed for closure.  The Minister will consider the results of the consultation and make decisions on whether a school should be closed permanently, or remain open. Schools approved for closure will be informed by the end of Term 3.

STAGE 4:  TRANSITIONAL PLANNING – Term 4
Schools approved for closure will officially close at the end of the school year. During Term 4, DET will work with students, families and staff to transition to new schools/education providers for the start of the following year.

Please note: Any closure of a secondary school under the School Viability Assessment procedure will take place over an extended period – i.e. up to two years. This will minimise disruption to senior students in their final years of schooling.

Further information
If two or more schools are identified as candidates for amalgamation, as part of the School Viability Assessment process, the actions outlined in the four-stage process above will apply.

In the case of schools that ‘self-close’ part way through a school year – i.e. enrolments drop to an unviable level with very low student numbers or no students – the Regional Director must promptly notify ISRP in order to activate the School Viability Assessment procedure. The actions detailed from “Stage 2” in the Process above will be followed, however the timings will be adjusted according to each individual situation.

Online Resources

Review Date

3/05/2015
Attribution CC BY
​Community
For a school proposed to be closed means─
a) the school community; and
b) if there is a school council for the school – the school council; and
c) if there is a parents and citizens’ association formed for the school – the association.

Viability
The ability of a school to deliver and sustain a broad, meaningful and effective education program based on enrolment levels, curriculum offerings, accessibility and resourcing levels.

School Closure
The permanent cessation of operations of a state school.

Amalgamation
The merging of two or more neighbouring schools.