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Invergordon residents ‘kept in dark’ about potential GSSC rural annex

By Madi Chwasta

Invergordon residents say they have been "kept in the dark" about a rural annex for disengaged Greater Shepparton Secondary College students to be based in their town.

About 20 residents met with Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy at the closed Invergordon Primary School on Monday following what they say has been poor consultation.

Twenty disengaged youth from the college will be driven to the site, a 30-minute drive from Shepparton, and taught by four staff.

The program will provide short-term individualised learning plans and one-on-one support, with the intention to integrate the students back into the mainstream classroom.

Invergordon Primary School, which closed in 2018, has been considered the ideal location for the program until construction of the state-of-the-art Greater Shepparton Secondary College is completed in 2022.

The college says the program has been planned since last year, but Invergordon's Rikkie Tyrrell said she first heard about it through media reports a few weeks ago.

When she found out last week it was originally planned to open in Invergordon at the beginning of Term 3 - which has now been postponed to an unspecified date - she organised the meeting with Mr McCurdy.

“I would like to see the school being used for students needing specialised attention,” she said.

“But I want clarification from Greater Shepparton Secondary College about what they'll use the school for.”

Karen Duckworth, who also lives at Invergordon, said she was frustrated that no-one in town was informed.

“No locals, not even the houses across the road and beside the school, were aware of anything,” she said.

“We weren't informed correctly, so everyone has assumed the worst,” she said.

“Once we get those answers, people will be happier.”

Invergordon's Travis Blair, who has fostered more than 30 children across the road from the primary school in the past six years, is enthusiastic about the proposal and hopes it goes ahead.

“Trauma comes out in many different ways, and things like this will improve the situation for kids who fall through the cracks at school,” he said.

Greater Shepparton Secondary College staff member Cate Eddy lives at Invergordon and also spoke in favour of the program.

Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy said the Victorian Government needed to consult with the community.

“Clearly the Invergordon residents are just in the dark and need to know more,” he said.

“When you’re kept in the dark, you begin to conjure up ideas.

“We need the Education Department to be honest with us and tell us what’s going on.”

Greater Shepparton Secondary College assistant principal Tammy Goyne said the college would organise a "drop-in" session at the former primary school in early Term 3 for Invergordon residents to ask any questions about the program.

“The operation of the SPARC program is expected to have no impact on the small Invergordon community, other than returning an existing public school to education purposes,” she said.

FOR MORE STORIES ABOUT INVERGORDON

Greater Shepparton Secondary College ‘SPARC program’ to help disengaged youth in region

‘Disengaged’ GSSC students sent to off-site campus