Ropeley State School principal, Charmaine Wilson, admits her school is in a unique situation. Its entire population is just two.
Wilson’s school is located in the rural Lockyer Valley between Toowoomba and Brisbane. As both the principal and teacher, Wilson is also tasked with keeping the school’s sole student, Tom, company.
“Our unique situation provides an opportunity for students to build independence, self-dependence and self-reliance,” Wilson told The Educator.
As unique as the school may be, the lessons being taught in the classroom don’t differ from that of other schools in the state, Wilson said.
“Daily lessons reflect the Australian Curriculum and are delivered using the Queensland designed C2C (Curriculum 2 Classroom).”
When asked what it is like sharing the school with its sole student, Tom, Wilson said that a range of activities allowed them to have fun together, and when she busy working, Tom makes use of the school’s recreational facilities.
“During breaks, Tom and I choose games like handball, tennis, trampoline, swings or our extensive range of board games. Sometimes we just talk,” Wilson explained.
“My student has access to musical instruments, the library and art rooms should he desire to use these resources.”
Despite the school’s rural setting, it engages with other schools across the Toowoomba district.
Ropeley State School performed at ‘Sing Out’ in Toowoomba, a musical extravaganza where students from across the region come together to workshop and present their musical skills.
Activities such as local carnivals and learning excursions provide the otherwise isolated students with the opportunity to network and compete with one another.
“The school joins with other small schools for swimming lessons and participates in local swimming and athletics carnivals, as well as the local show and other competitions during the year.
“Learning excursions are regularly organised to places such as the Mt Crosby Water Treatment Plant and Wivenhoe Dam, which provided the children an insight into the treatment of water to serve the greater Brisbane area,” Wilson said.
Wilson added that her school is in the process of setting up a communications link with other small western Darling Downs schools “to enhance technology skills and provide interaction” for the children.
Despite the low head count at the school, the Department of Education, Training and Employment (DETE) said it has no plans to close the school.