Four schools saved from closure 

A Federation, community based campaign has reversed a plan to close all four public schools in Murwillumbah and replace them with one mega-school.  

“While we welcome this outcome, Federation acknowledges the impact the original announcement had on the wellbeing of students, families, teachers and support staff,” Federation Deputy President Henry Rajendra said. 

“Such callous, unilateral action by a government should never have occurred. We must remain vigilant to ensure that it never happens again. Federation stands for the expansion of the provision of public education and will oppose conservative political attempts aimed at undermining it.” 

From shock to success 

The Murwillumbah community was shocked in October 2020 when the former education minister Sarah Mitchell announced, without warning or consultation, that Murwillumbah Public School, Murwillumbah East Public School, Murwillumbah High School and Wollumbin High School would be closed and a replaced by a combined primary and high school on the Murwillumbah High School site. 

Federation immediately called out the far-ranging ramifications of the announced plan, including significant reduction in the number of teaching positions available to support students.  

During the campaign, the former education minister  was forced to admit in State Parliament the extent of the cuts to permanent school staffing that would result from her government’s plan: “Staffing projections based on 2020 enrolment numbers indicate that, when combined, there would be 3.42 fewer teaching service positions and 1.262 fewer school administrative and support staff [SASS] positions in the primary school, and 15.5 fewer teaching service positions and 3.082 fewer SASS positions in the secondary setting.” (19 October 2021)  

“The loss of so many teaching positions in the proposed mega-school would have limited the scope and depth of learning experiences and subjects able to be offered, increased class sizes and worsened workload for already overstretched teachers,” Mr Rajendra said. The campaign to fight the closures and cuts was reinvigorated, led by our members in Murwillumbah, and continued all the way up to the March 2023 state election.  

Prue Car’s announcement 

On 24 May 2023, Education Minister Prue Car MP announced: “The government is committed to the demerger of the high school and the retention of the two high schools and the two primary schools as separate schools. We are now working to deliver that commitment in a timely and inclusive manner.” 

“The Department has stopped infrastructure-related activities on the Murwillumbah Education Campus project and will work with the community on supporting the four schools into the future.”  


Federation is seeking reassurance from the Department that permanent staffing levels will continue as they were on 28 October 2020.  

Mr Rajendra said Federation will continue to support the affected communities and members working in Murwillumbah to ensure that all students can access the highest quality provision of public education. 

“The opportunity will not be missed to pursue the enhancements to public education that the community deserves, including the provision of public preschooling, adequate and appropriate permanent staffing to meet the needs of all students to access the full curriculum, high-quality school buildings and other education facilities, and the restoration of full access to TAFE within the community,” he said.