Decision time

NORTHERN high schools asked to consider extending to year 12 will have one month to consult   their communities and await further detail on whether the move is in their students' best interests.

Principals and school associations from 28 regional schools yesterday received a letter from Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff asking them to consider whether they would be in a position to extend to year 12 by next year.

Port Dalrymple High School principal Philip Challis said he would need to look at all the information before deciding whether to have a tilt at becoming one of the four schools to extend next year.

``If it's a good enough offer with robust courses, we'll be very keen,'' Mr Challis said.

Lilydale District High School principal Greg Morgan said he would gauge support from the school community and give them an opportunity to ``digest the details'' of the proposal. 

``We will follow the process set out by the minister to arrive at a decision,'' Mr Morgan said.

Deloraine High School principal Craig Brown said whether retention rates would be improved by the school extending to year 12 would depend on what could be offered to students.

Mr Brown said he would talk to the school association and the community.

St Helens District High School principal Matthew Bennell said it would be a ``wait and see'' process for his school.

``We need to work out whether it will be an advantage to the school or not,'' he said.

The first phase of the policy will be four schools being identified to begin offering year 11 and 12 next year, and all high schools extended by 2024.

The letter to schools reads: ``I ask that you consider carefully whether or not your school is in  a position to deliver year 11 programs next year in consultation with your local community.''

The schools selected to extend will have a consultation report developed and submitted to an ``implementation taskforce''.

Mr Rockliff said the taskforce would be made up of stakeholders, experts in the field and interested parties.

The government will provide $45.5 million over the next four years extending 21 schools to year 12 in a bid to lift the state's retention rate. 

Up to 105 new teachers will be employed and $6 million will be spent on upgrading schools. 

Schools have until Friday, May 9, to submit expressions of interest.

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