The distraught and frustrated families whose children attended the Colmont School, formerly known as the Kilmore International School, say they have been left with very little option for what to do going forward.
The private school was one of the state’s few International Baccalaureate (IB) World Schools, with the nearest school offering the same curriculum being more than 50kms away.
About 50 former students and parents have gathered outside the school with signs in the cold on Monday morning, chanting, “We want TKIS now”, and “Save our school”.
Year 10 Dayna Ford has told 9 News that the school’s sudden decision to close, after it went into administration, was “devastating for everyone”.
“It’s just so sad,” she said.
“It’s such a welcoming and tightknit community we have here.”
She said she was still waiting to hear if she would be accepted into a similar school, with her family considering options across the state.
“I might have to move to Geelong and board there,” she said.
However, Dayna said the schools she was considering moving to did not teach the languages she and her fellow students had been studying for years.
Her father, David Ford, said the family was considering either moving to Melbourne or sending Dayna to school in Sale in Gippsland – on the other side of the state.
“It’s breaking up the family,” he said,
“It’s a very stressful situation,
“For a lot of young people there is no school available for them at the moment in the IB program.
“A lot of private schools already having long waiting lists.”
Ford said it was particularly tough for the students after having endured COVID-19 lockdowns.
He said he believed COVID-19 lockdowns had affected the success of the school, which had boarding accommodation, with students from Asia not being able to get into the country.
Speaking to the media on Monday morning, Victorian Education Minister Natalie Hutchins said the school’s unique business model had meant it was “very heavily reliant on international students”.
She said it was not the state government’s job to save the school.
“It’s not the role of the state government to prop up this particular business,” she said.
“But it is our role to make sure our students have the best possible education they can get at our public schools.”
Hutchins said she was aware some Year 12 students from the Colmont School had the option to finish their studies at other schools offering IB.
“But it is going to be a significant travel distance for them,” she said.
Grade 6 student Dev told 9News he was protesting because while he had found a new school to go to, he wanted his old school back.
“I’m feeling extremely sad because it was a really good school,” he said.
“There were a lot of really nice teachers and students.”
Grade 4 student Fatehrosha said his family had not yet found a new school for him to go to.
“We’re here to save our school and bring it back from all of this,” he said.
The Colmont school closed to Year 3 to 10 students on Friday after families were told on Wednesday evening that it was going into administration.
Classes are still being run for Year 11 to 12 students for an indefinite period of time.
There is talk students and parents plan to take their protest to state parliament on Wednesday.