Response to The Age article

Response to The Age article

Waverley Christian College was featured in an article today (26th March 2020) by the Education Editor of The Age, Mr Carey.

Please see below for the Principal's response to Mr Carey.

"Dear Mr Carey,

I’m writing regarding your article in The Age today regarding Waverley Christian College (Pentecostal college stays open as other Victorian schools shut en masse, online version; and School doors open despite term cut short, page 8, print edition).

The article is constructed around one unsourced assertion which is presented as a fact: that Waverley Christian College ‘will continue with face-to-face classes until Friday, when term one was originally scheduled to end’.

This is false.

This week, as we prepare for the implementation of online learning, we have student-free days on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The final day for students at school was Wednesday.

Our actions, based on careful consideration of the safety and educational needs of our students and the wellbeing of our entire community, were similar to those taken by many other non-government schools.

Based on this one false assertion, you have constructed a report that portrays us as ‘disregarding’ and acting in ‘opposition’ to decisions of the Victorian Government relating to government schools.

This is a false construction. We can hardly be said to be acting against a government decision when that decision does not apply to us.

The people you subsequently quote appear to have accepted the premise you have put to them (apart from Michelle Green) and have provided you with comments that are highly damaging to the reputation and good name of Waverley Christian College.

You quote Debra James, general secretary of the Independent Education Union’s Victorian branch, as saying the school has put ‘the health and safety of students, staff and the wider community at unacceptable risk’,  and has been ‘deeply irresponsible’.

You also quote Emma Rowe, a senior lecturer in education at Deakin University, whose comments, while less damaging, lack logic.

You quote her as saying some schools (in the context this includes Waverley Christian College) see themselves as ‘outside the government, even though they receive government funding’.  This is an illogical assertion in the circumstances. The fact of the matter is that the bulk of the government funding we receive comes from the Federal Government, which insists that all schools should remain open.

In light of all this, and while I seek further advice on this matter, I strongly request that you immediately delete the online version of your report and that you publish a correction and apology as soon as possible

I would also ask you to consider your responsibility to the community at a time when many are experiencing considerable stress, anxiety and uncertainty. To be writing factually incorrect, sensationalist or controversial articles at a time when the community needs support, hope and encouragement is, in my view, the wrong focus."

Mr Carey has now replied, taking responsibility for the error and committing to run a correction.

Peter Sheahan