Debate on school areas welcomed Wed 11 July 2012 Nick McKim Minister for Education and Skills The Minister for Education and Skills, Nick McKim, today welcomed debate on the issue of school catchment areas, and urged school communities to have their say. Mr McKim said every State school principal had now been given a copy of the draft documents to seek feedback from school communities around Tasmania. "We want to hear what school communities think on this issue," he said. "That's why the Education Department has asked principals to consult with their school communities in an open and transparent manner. "To suggest it's the policy and procedure that will ultimately be adopted is wildly speculative at best, given we've only just begun consulting with those school communities and no final decision will be made until after their feedback, and the response from other key stakeholders, has been considered." Mr McKim said the review of the school home area procedure was in line with the recommendations of the School Viability Reference Group. "The Reference Group's report has been supported by both the Australian Education Union and the State School Parents and Friends Association," he said. "The Reference Group's first two recommendations were a review of policies and guidelines relating to school boundaries, catchment areas, enrolment and attendance. "For Mr Ferguson to now act surprised when we follow through and review those areas indicates he either didn't read the report, or he's just more interested in base politics than the needs of our students. "Principals have acknowledged we need to look at the issue, the State School Parents and Friends Association has acknowledged we need to look at the issue - apparently the only person who doesn't want to look at the issue is Michael Ferguson." Mr McKim said consultation with school communities through local principals was just the first stage in the consultation process. "Once the draft policy and procedures are finalised, we'll be consulting more broadly with school communities," he said. "I'm going to let this consultation process continue without interference from me, and would again encourage all school communities to have their say."