Students back behind bars
By ANN-MARIE MAY
TRADITIONALLY used to keep the 'bad eggs' in, barred fences are now being used on the Coffs Coast to keep them out.
Fed up with being regular targets of vandalism, three local schools have started the new year by putting up a fence between them and the undesirables.
Tyalla Primary, Orara and Toormina High schools were last year accepted into the NSW Department of Education Safety and Security Program that saw a large metal fence installed around the length of the school grounds during the school holidays.
And while there are sure to be references to schools being turned into jails, Orara High principal, Graham Mosey, says that isn't the case.
"They are definitely to keep people out, not to lock the students in," Mr Mosey said.
"They are becoming the standard. The department has a fencing program which we have been very, very keen to be put on. Many Sydney schools have them, and have seen a huge decrease in vandalism."
According to the department, the new security fences have cut crimes such as vandalism by up to 70 per cent in the schools where they have been built.
"It will stop the constant stream of mindless and moronic vandalism that drives us mad. They have only been up for a few weeks and already we have seen a reduction in vandalism," Mr Mosey said.
Starting her new position as principal of Tyalla Primary School, Sue Mackay said she believed the fences were to ensure the safety and security of the children.
She also didn't think the size of the new fence would daunt the younger students.
"The back of the school, where the gardens are, is still open so once the children come into the grounds it's not noticeable at all," Ms Mackay said.
"It's what's happening inside the fence that is important."
The new fences have also been welcomed by parents, who believed it was a necessary measure to take to stop the vandalism problems.
Member of the Tyalla Parents and Citizens Association Debbie Shilling said the new addition was great.
"There was just too much vandalism. "My oldest is at Orara as well, and being on the P&C we have been hoping for this to happen for a long time," Ms Shilling said.