Blog

Education in Focus

March 31, 2017

 I made two important speeches regarding education in the Shepparton District in Parliament this month. 

Adjournment – Wednesday, March 8. Education

My adjournment is for the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is that the Minister visit Shepparton to meet with concerned community representatives who seek government assistance in finding solutions for the current situation in our four senior secondary colleges in Shepparton and Mooroopna.

Looking at the NAPLAN results just released of the four state secondary colleges in Shepparton and Mooroopna alone, each of these schools are performing substantially below the national average in both reading and numeracy.

This is not what we want for our children.

Parents are leaving state secondary education in the Shepparton District on a continuing basis, and in the meantime, our private schools are bursting at the seams.

We must return pride in our public system.

Enrolments have fallen at Mooroopna Secondary College from 772 in 2008, to just 374 last year.

McGuire College enrolments have fallen from 735 in 2008, to 490 in 2016.

The enrolments at Shepparton High School have fallen from 904 in 2008 to 670 in 2016 and they are continuing to fall.

In my grievance debate in this Parliament on 23 March 2016  I spoke of the disparity between educational outcomes for students in metropolitan and regional areas. The Auditor Gen’s Report of April 2014 entitled Access to Education for Rural Students confirmed what many of us have known for a very long time and that is that rural populations in Victoria suffer from a disproportionate level of disadvantage.

It further found that students from rural Victoria represent about 30% of the total school student population but far fewer go on to attend university or even study at a Certificate Four Level or above than do metropolitan students. The Auditor Gen’s Report also found that rural students are behind their metropolitan peers on academic achievement, attendance, senior secondary school completion and connectedness with their school.

These figures certainly represent the outcomes for our secondary students in the state education system in Shepparton and Mooroopna. It has been the case for a number of years, and the principals of those schools have, with some assistance, formed the Better Together Alliance in an attempt to address many of these issues as well as access to a wider curriculum in the senior years.

 They have set up a coordinated timetable and taken on a much more cooperative arrangement among the schools to assist in student choice and better outcomes.

But this alone will not be sufficient to address the issues which are demonstrated by the publicly available data.

In Shepparton, I am confident our community is ready for change.  We are aware of these statistics at our schools.  We want better outcomes for our children.  We already have 300 local residents volunteering through the Lighthouse Project. They are volunteering at our schools, acting as mentors, participating in reading programs, engaging with our children all in an attempt to provide better outcomes for our children.

There must now be a role for the government to play in assisting our community to address what has been a progressive decline in our state secondary education system and I seek the Minister’s assistance.

Statements on Reports – Wednesday, March 22. Education

 I am pleased to make a contribution in relation to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee Report on the 2016-17 budget estimates of (10) May 2016. In doing so I seek to draw the houses attention in particular to the presentation made by the Minister for education Mr James Merlino and the questions answered on that day. The Minister’s opening statement drew attention to the fact that the Andrews Labor Government came to power on a promise that it would make Victoria the education state.

The Minister went on to detail the expenditure included in the budget in relation to capital and to meet the Gonski commitments. There is little doubt that it was a budget that addressed a wide range of educational needs including funding for a number of infrastructure projects at secondary schools in regional Victoria.

Schools in the Shepparton District I can say from information provided to me by the Minister’s office, have received a total of $1.95mill as part of the planned maintenance program since 2014.

In addition Congupna Primary School, Waaia, Yalca South primary School and the Zeerust primary school have received a total of $350,000 in capital funding in the 2016-17 State budget through the School Pride and Sports Fund.

While it has been pleasing to see this investment in my electorate I must say that I have looked at the NAPLAN results just released of the four state secondary colleges.  In Shepparton and Mooroopna alone, each of these schools are performing substantially below the national average in both reading and numeracy.

Parents are leaving state secondary education in the Shepparton District on a continuing basis, and in the meantime, our private schools are bursting at the seams.

Enrolments have fallen at Mooroopna Secondary College from 772 in 2008, to just 374 last year.

McGuire College enrolments have fallen from 735 in 2008, to 490 in 2016.

 The enrolments at Shepparton High School have fallen from 904 in 2008 to 670 in 2016 and they are continuing to fall.

In my grievance debate in this Parliament on 23 March 2016,  I spoke of the disparity between educational outcomes for students in metropolitan and regional areas. The Auditor General’s Report of April 2014 entitled Access to Education for Rural Students confirmed what many of us have known for a very long time and that is that rural populations in Victoria suffer from a disproportionate level of disadvantage.

It also found that students from rural Victoria represent about 30% of the total school student population but far fewer go on to attend university or even study at a Certificate Four Level or above as compared to metropolitan students.

 The Auditor General’s Report also found that rural students are behind their metropolitan peers on academic achievement, attendance, senior secondary school completion and connectedness with their school.

I am very concerned about this disparity in outcomes and I believe it’s time we did something about it. There is so much evidence showing the educational disadvantage generally but more so it is worrying that this is particularly the case for students who reside outside metropolitan areas, indigenous students and students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

These are all ingredients that we have in the Shepparton electorate. We also have a large multicultural community where English is a second language and this creates its own issues.

I have been studying this issue and reading more and more about it. I am convinced that steps can be taken both by government and by our community to address what is now clearly a very unsatisfactory situation for our secondary colleges to find themselves in.

The latest reports from two major international assessments of student learning PISA (The Program for International Student Assessment) and TIMSS backup with many statistics the fact that educational disadvantage is a significant problem across Australia.

If Victoria is to be the education state then there is a great deal of work to be done and addressing the problems of my own electorate is something that is very important to me, and to so many in my community.

Shepparton has the largest indigenous community outside of Melbourne. It is not good enough that 61% of indigenous students in Australia compared to 28% of non-indigenous students did not achieve the intermediate International benchmark - the proficient standard for Australia, as is outlined in the Australian results in TIMSS 2015.

There are those who argue that many of our assessment tools lack credibility. I have heard people criticise NAPLAN. PISA is an international comparative study of student achievement directed by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development and measures how well 15-year-olds who are nearing the end of the compulsory schooling are prepared to use the knowledge and skills in certain areas to meet the challenges of the life opportunities ahead of them.

TIMSS – the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study is another worldwide comparative research model, managed by the Australian Council for Education Research and jointly funded by the Federal, and state and territory governments.

I take the view that all of these assessments and studies provide very useful information to assist governments in understanding the state of education in our country, in our state and in our local communities. I must say that it is very disappointing that a country like Australia shows that educational disadvantage is, and continues to be, such a substantial problem and that this is so much more the case in regional areas.

Our community in Shepparton is ready to take a long hard look at how we can better serve the educational and broader needs of our young people. We recognise that our secondary colleges are pivotal places of learning in all aspects of life and impact enormously on children’s ability to achieve later on. Their emotional well-being, their skills, literacy and numeracy, confidence so many important aspects of their lives will be greatly influenced in the years of their secondary education.

The PISA report highlighted the achievement gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students is very large – the equivalent to 3 years of schooling.

Where you go to school matters in Australia.

It matters as to whether you live in a regional, remote or metropolitan area. It often matters whether you go to a state school or private school. I have called on the government to provide support and assistance to the Shepparton District in looking at the challenges we have ahead. The issues of falling enrolments, of disadvantage and disparity in outcomes must be addressed. I trust that the budget processes will provide the funding support necessary to enable my community to address these issues and come up with solutions.

I took heart from reading the PEAC report and trust that the government will look hard at addressing the inequities between regional and metropolitan educational outcomes.

 

 

 

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

All Aboard Shepparton
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN
SUZANNA SHEED NEWS
Read The Blog
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Volunteer