Tensions are high at Strathmore Secondary College, amidst a decision by the school management to discontinue delivery of Modern Greek for VCE classes (Year 11 &12) citing insufficient demand, with students and parents alike calling for its reversal. Fewer than ten students reportedly chose the subject in August. The level of enrollments was similar last year when the course was taught as per normal.

A few weeks ago, following the departure of a staff member teaching the course, students received an unexpected notice from the school informing them about the axing of the subject from the curriculum. They were advised to choose an alternative offering and told that those maintaining the subject would have to engage with distance learning options or attend class at a different school.

Parents feeling misled and left out of the decision have contacted the Department of Education and the school.

“It wasn’t just surprising, we felt betrayed by the school by being handed out this ultimatum at the last hour. Our kids have invested in the Greek language course,” George Dounias, one of the disillusioned parents told Neos Kosmos.

Mr Dounias says that the issue goes beyond any individual student’s grievance as it is putting at risk the continuation of Greek language program in general at the school.

“Greek language enrollments are pretty good from Year 7 to Year 10. We learnt that in 2019, Year 7 students [enrolled in the subject] will be more than 60. But in the event that Year 11 and 12 classes are discontinued, students will be discouraged from choosing the course, and will not invest in it, knowing that after reaching that point they will have to drop it all together or attend the class outside school.”

Following pressures from the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria and Federal MP Maria Vamvakinou, the college agreed to discuss on the issue.

“I have sought the advice of the local member and I hope that the State Government will assist the community with their commitment to support community languages,” the MP said in a statement.

A meeting is expected to take place on Monday with the Principal, Jillian English, GOCMV vice president Theo Markos and a representative from the Department of Education.
Parents’ involvement in the meeting remains subject to approval by the school’s principal.

Neos Kosmos contacted the College Principal asking for comment on specific aspects of the issue, including the rationale behind this year’s decision, considering that the number of students enrolled in Modern Greek for VCE was no bigger last year. Ms English responded with a general statement leaving open the possibility of reinstating the subject in 2020 should sufficient student numbers arise.

“With our current number of students, running Modern Greek internally with VCE units 1 and 2 along with units 3 and 4 as a single class would compromise delivery of the courses for both our Year 11 and Year 12 students, ” Ms English said.

It should be noted that joint classes of VCE units are implemented in other schools and approved by the Department.