EDUCATION is the largest employer in the Bathurst region so any changes in the sector are always closely watched.
But the incredible response to news on Tuesday evening that the Presbyterian Church of NSW – the owners of The Scots School Bathurst – had been confirmed as the buyer of All Saints’ College was still something of a surprise.
The Western Advocate Facebook page lit up as people jumped online to offer their opinion on the move.
Many All Saints’ old boys and girls expressed their sadness that an era was almost over for the 143-year-old school while many people also saw the many potential benefits of the two schools joining forces.
Of course, this is not the first time linking Scots and All Saints’ has been suggested.
There has been talk in years gone by – particularly during drought times when both schools were struggling for enrolments – that they might be better combining but no deal ever got past the talking stage.
As it played out, it was the financial woes of the Bathurst Anglican Diocese that was the catalyst for a deal rather than the possible educational merits, but this remains an exciting time for education in our city.
Size matters for schools, particularly in the independent sector, and both All Saints’ and Scots over the years have fallen a long way behind Orange’s Kinross-Wolaroi on that measure.
Indeed, each morning a busload of Bathurst students make their way to Orange for the day – most wearing Kinross-Wolaroi uniforms.
This merger of Scots and All Saints’ could put Bathurst in a position to fight back.
The Presbyterian Church has indicated its preference is to retain both school properties so the option of separate senior school and junior school campuses must be on the drawing board.
That would offer something very different for Bathurst parents and the lure of reduced fees could only add to the attraction.
The transition period over the next 16 months will be a time of grieving for both school communities as they must let go of links to the past but also a very exciting time with the promise of a more sustainable future ahead.
The Scots School headmaster David Gates said the plan was not to create a big school but, rather, a medium school focused on excellence.
Now it’s just a matter of making it happen.