21 July, 2023
Survey reveals students feel unsafe
STUDENTS across the Tablelands are afraid of attending school as annual reports reveal that under 50 per cent of students at some schools feel unsafe attending their place of learning.
Results gathered from the annual reports of Mareeba State High School, Atherton State High School and Malanda State High School have revealed a major drop in the school opinion surveys for parents, staff and students. Since 2019, results have been dropping at rates of up to 30 per cent.
Each year, the Department of Education conducts the survey to obtain the opinions of parents/caregivers, students and school staff about important aspects of schooling.
The questions range from ‘I feel safe at my school to ‘my school gives me opportunities to do interesting things’ while parents and caregivers are asked similar questions like ‘my child likes being at this school’ and ‘this school takes parents’ opinions seriously.”
The Express asked specific questions to each school addressing the concerning survey results including “Is the school concerned with these considerable drops in the survey? What is the school doing, if anything, to rectify these concerns and issues?” – the schools failed to provide adequate answers.
Across the board, survey results for all three schools have dropped considerably, some to below 50 percent.
At Malanda in particular, the answers for the parents/caregivers survey have not decreased, they have either remained the same or increased while the results for the student survey have dropped.
At Mareeba in 2019, 78.9 per cent of students felt they were safe at school, in 2022 it dropped to 60 per cent.
From the same question, Malanda went from 92.5 percent in 2019 to 77.1 per cent in 2022 and Atherton recorded the biggest drop, going from 80.4 to 56 per cent.
Student behaviour at all schools declined rapidly with Mareeba going from an already low 48.4 to 38.1 per cent in 2021, it has since recovered and is at 47.3 per cent.
Atherton dropped over 20 per cent from 46.9 to 23.5 per cent while Malanda once again recorded the largest drop going from 85 to 66.7 per cent.
Atherton’s statistics are not only some of the most shocking, but as Atherton is also the largest and most populated school on the Tablelands.
The changes in the student survey are also reflected in the staff survey which all three schools also recorded a drop in student behaviour.
Malanda State High School principal Gary Tochach said the survey results reflect the difficult times school’s experienced when attempting to educate during Covid.
“The opinion survey data reflects the challenges we navigated during the pandemic, with home schooling, school closures and the other unprecedented events we faced as a community at the time,” he said.
School suspensions, exclusions and cancellations have dropped for Mareeba and Atherton while Malanda recorded nearly double the number of incidents in 2022 compared to 2019, going from 45 to 70.
Despite not being the largest school in the area, Mareeba holds the mantle for most school suspensions, exclusions and cancellations with 240 recorded in 2021, 40 less than 2020.