Rockhampton region’s fastest growing schools revealed
'BACK in the day' the School of Air educated Australia's most isolated kids, and just as technology has revolutionised distance education, so too has modern society.
Today's distance education is no longer restricted to geographic isolation and, in data released last week, shows a staggering increase in numbers.
The Capricornia School of Distance education had the highest growth in student numbers of any Rockhampton region school between 2013-2018 at 258 per cent.
Teacher numbers at its two campuses in Rockhampton and Emerald jumped from 40 to 160.
For the first time, 'mini school' held once a term to bring students face-to-face with their teachers and each other, is not able to be held at the school's campus at Glenmore State School where the teachers are based.
P&C president, Jackie Lindenmayer lives 90kms out of Monto in the north Burnett and said mini school was an important aspect of distance education both for teaching time and social interaction.
"Four years ago, we had enough room to have a classroom for the kids, now we've just been told we will have to move it to the Department of Primary Industries," she said.
"The departmental solution is for everyone to go to Emerald but if that happened, they would have the same problem as us.
"It's not a solution."
Distance education no longer caters only to geographically isolated students and is increasingly filling gaps in education from other rural and regional schools.
Yeppoon State High School uses the school to teach its physics class and there is a large language department to cater for students in schools not able to provide a languages teacher.
"We teach a lot of subjects to small schools that can't access specialised teachers," Ms Lindenmayer said.
"Schools like Yeppoon don't have a big enough cohort of students to have an actual physics teacher, so we are solving that issue for those schools.
"We have a lot of programs that are helping rural and regional children.
"We just want facilities that allow the school to educate the kids properly, and equity of access to facilities."
The largest growth has been in the alternate learning space for students who are disengaged from mainstream schools.
Students with anxiety, depression, autism, dyslexia or who have been bullied at school are turning to distance education to help them catch up.
The numbers of students with a medical condition that prevents them from attending school for more than 80 days is also growing.
"There's been a noticeable increase in students disillusioned with the mainstream school system," Ms Lindenmayer said.
"We're filling a lot of gaps in education and we're just not getting what we need from the government.
"We just want adequate resources. It's affecting the whole school community."