Schools dump agriculture

PETER LARSEN'S daughter, Laura has a burning desire to make a career for herself in Australia's agriculture industries.

But Mr Larsen was astonished to learn that his daughter, a Year10 student at Richmond River High School would not be able to study agriculture in Years 11 and 12.

"My daughter is distraught that she can't do agriculture," he said.

"Laura wants to study agriculture at university so she needs it in Years 11 and 12.

"Its all about budgets and pupil numbers rather than what's best for the region.

"This is a sad state of affairs for an area that has so much to offer in relation to agriculture and niche agricultural products along with the stand fast dairy and beef industries.

"After checking with high schools in the area that offered access to us, I found that none of the high schools had the numbers for agriculture as an elective."

Ms Larsen needs to study the Agriculture, a Category A subject, which will contribute to her ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank).

Tamsin Jackson's 16-year-old daughter, Eryn, also wants to study agriculture as her main HSC subject at Alstonville High School.

But there are not enough students interested to form a class.

"Time is running out for us to make a choice," she said.

"My daughter certainly doesn't want to work in an office and that's one subject she wants and needs to fulfil her career dreams.

"It's frustrating that in an agriculture intensive region like the Northern Rivers that more schools are not running agriculture."

A Department of Education and Communities spokesperson said when a school has insufficient student interest in a particular elective; schools can explore alternative arrangements such as working collaboratively with a group of public secondary schools or distance education.

Local Member Thomas George acknowledges the importance of students being able to go on to study agriculture at a tertiary level and fully appreciated Mr Larson's concerns.

"I will contact the area director of education John Lynch to see if we can draw on a wider group of schools to get sufficient numbers to run agriculture in the schools in the region."

"I will certainly take it up with the Education Minister Adrian Piccoli."

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