Rural Education Framework Strategy Workshop
Ballarat Regional Office 30/04/13 ( Video conferencing with Horsham)
Introduction by Lesley Hubble acting Regional Director
This workshop is the first in a series that will look at the document The State of Our Children Report 2011 as it relates to rural schools
Facilitators from the performance and evaluation division from central office
Disparities have emerged between rural and metropolitan data for student school performance.
Joyce Cleary introduced the Victorian child and adolescent outcomes framework and the origins of the report.
Joy McLaughlin discussed some general findings from the report.
Rural Victoria will grow from 1.5 million to 1.9 million in 2031. In rural Victoria there is higher unemployment, parents less likely to have finished year 12, Prep children are likely to be more developmentally vulnerable especially in more remote areas.Dental care is well behind metropolitan children.Binge drinking and STI rates are greater in rural areas. There are higher rates of child abuse in rural areas. Regional and rural children are more likely to be victims of crime and perpetrators of crime.( young offenders commit crimes against property) Koorie children are more likely to participate in kindergarten in rural areas ( Half of Victoria's koorie population live in rural Victoria)
Some strengths included higher levels of community connectedness, more opportunity for children to have input into community decision making. (More likely to report a lack of transport access and access to community resources ) immunisation rates are higher and participation in kindergarten and improved rates of physical activity.Early school levers make better transition to employment.Rural children are more likely to have someone to turn to for advice and have a trusted adult in their lives.Concerns for our region include poor access to dental services but there are strong NAPLAN results for year 7 and 9.
Geographical location does not appear to be a major factor in disadvantage, rather socio- economic outcomes in rural and remote areas have a greater impact on disadvantage.
The data was unpacked in detail and discussed around tables.(Data did show that adults in some rural areas weren't reading to their children in the first year of life and it was discussed that children who are read to at that age improve their reading skills and engagement in later years. It was suggested that Maternal and Child Health professionals could address this issue directly with parents.)
In the afternoon session Katherine Henderson discussed 'What is next for Rural Education'
How do we use this data to make a difference in our schools?
Katherine posed the question in our table groups ( including Horsham) What are the core challenges in education for our community?
Issues included: transition, workload, curriculum provision, ICT connectivity, lack of opportunity, harnessing goodwill in small rural communities, determining priorities, declining enrolments and small town demographics, tyranny of distance, staffing and recruitment,Government policy and DEECD policy one size fits all mentality,dealing with change management, concerns about parenting, lack of diversity low levels of aspiration and a reduction of community profiles.
We discussed a range of strategies that we thought might address some of these issues. ( My ideas, for what they're worth can be read in the school's website, refer to the Documents section for papers I've written for school council and my collegiate group over the years.)These were noted down and will hopefully help inform future planning. ( This is the first workshop of many to be held around the state.
Participants were praised for their innovative approach to rural issues and their proactive response to challenges. It was suggested that we should put it to DEECD that they should 'get out of the way' and let us get on with finding solutions to our problems.It will be interesting to see the final report/framework that comes out from this data and series of rural workshops.