A BALLARAT primary school has cancelled student camps to help ease the pressure on families hit by government budget cutbacks.
Dana Street Primary School principal Paul Nolan said camps for senior pupils in grades 3 to 6 would be held only every second year under changes announced in the school’s weekly newsletter.
“As a result of proposed changes to financial support for families at both a Commonwealth and state government level there will be changes to our school camps program from 2015,” Mr Nolan wrote.
In an interview with The Courier, Mr Nolan said the decision came from the school’s annual review of its programs.
“We want to make sure things remain affordable for parents, as it’s getting increasingly difficult on families,” Mr Nolan said.
The central Ballarat primary school has about 240 pupils.
Mr Nolan said the camps weren’t extravagant, and were usually at sites in Anglesea, Bacchus Marsh and Trentham.
“There hasn’t been any negative feedback from parents about changing the program,” he said.
“We try to make our camps affordable anyway, but we’re sensitive to the broad spread of families we have at the school.”
Mr Nolan said pupils would still have regular access to camps and other activities. The camps have been combined for grades 3 and 4, and grades 5 and 6, for some time.
Victorian Principals Association president Gabrielle Leigh said the school’s decision would be the first of many to cut school programs across the state.
“This is the first we’ve seen, but I’m sure there will be a lot similar to come,” Ms Leigh said.
“The ramifications from the budget are just starting to settle and schools are only just beginning to plan for next year.”
Ms Leigh said she expected there would be a reduction in school camps and excursions across the state, and the cuts could extend to in-class programs as well.
“The Education Maintenance Allowance will be discontinued from next year, and that helped families pay for camps and excursions,” she said.
“It’s very unfortunate because a lot of learning comes from those real-life experiences on camps.”