Outback parents call for new facilities for South Australian School of the Air

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Outback parents are calling on the South Australian government to build new school facilities for the school from the air.

School of the Air offers distance education to elementary school-aged children who live in the hinterland, some of them hundreds of miles from any major city.

When students meet in person, they meet at Augusta Park Elementary School Air School facilities.

However, the Association of Parents of Isolated Children is now asking SOTA to have its own facilities.

CAPI President Belinda Hatcher was a student at SOTA herself, and her three children went through the school.

Ms Hatcher said COVID-19 had made it difficult for parents and guardians to visit their children at school or supervise them as they normally would.

“For the safety of staff and the safety of students, anyone who was not involved in the education of students was restricted from visiting the school,” she said.

School of the Air has a long history of teaching children via radio, but now uses technology such as Zoom.(Provided: Alice Springs School of the Air Experience)

Ms Hatcher said many facilities at the school were old and needed upgrading.

“Over time things get old and decay and some of these buildings are over 20 years old,” she said.

Lai Kwan Lim, campus manager for the flight school, said the school’s current facilities were aging and in need of an update.

Ms. Lai Kwan also said the school’s current layout is not convenient for students and teachers, with the two SOTA buildings at opposite ends of campus.

A child writes on a notepad and wears headphones while studying at home.
Lai Kwan Lim, Campus Manager of the School of Flight, says the scarce class time is very important to SOTA students.(ABC News: Mary Lloyd)

“It’s inconvenient for them and it doesn’t show them that they are in a school that they are part of,” she said.

Ms Hatcher said that if new facilities were to be built for SOTA, she would want them to include a separate play area for students, living quarters for parents and closed offices for teachers.

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