Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Regional Directors Meeting

Regional Directors Meeting ( Principal Forum)
Matt Dunkley Regional Director

Introduced the new minister, secretary and branding ( DET rather than DEECD)
Minister Merlino and Deputy Premier is Minister for Education
Minister Herbert- VET/ training
Minister Mikakos - Early Childhood
Ministers are  very engaged in their new jobs, lots of briefings and energy.
Government called Victoria the Education State.
Immediate focus- delivery of promises and preparing the next budget. Dialogue by professionals  around the education state is  important. It is important for the profile of education in Victoria that the new minister is also the deputy premier.
Election Commitments include. ( funding over 4 years )
$50 million for kindergartens
$2 for music in schools
Mitigating the loss of the EMA will see 
 $160 million for school breakfasts, camps, glasses for needy children.
The Government is offering significant financial support for SSRC ( ( State School Relief Committee)
the government is determined to provide support for disadvantaged students.
TAFE rescue package $329 million
10 new tech schools $125 million with one of those to be located in Ballarat.
$32 m for LENS
The new government is interested in providing high quality education.They are concerned about the rising levels of disengaged youth and youth unemployment. ( over 20% in Ballarat)
Building works on top of new and upgraded kindergartens will include $520 million for new schools and upgrades for existing schools.DET is committed to the removal of asbestos from our schools.
There will also be a substantial TAFE rebuilding program.

Dunkley discussed concerns voiced by principals that they felt less supported from regional office.He acknowledged that the perception ( and reality) that autonomy had gone too far was a genuine concern.
The Minister wants to identity what support is required at a regional level before making adjustments ( de-merging clusters?) Minister seeking feedback on this.Dunkley said there was no agenda to go back to the old system. ( probably too expensive but I think needed) No desire for major restructure.
Dunkley reiterated that the Ministers want to put education at the heart of the community.
They want to prosecute a culture of high expectations and equity with a strong committed to early intervention.
The new government is committed to developing expert professional teachers and leaders and a substantial  investment in P&D. ( Changes possible in Principal/ teacher review process for 2015-16?)
The government wants to address disadvantage and transitions between learning and employment with a strong community focus on learning and engagement with parents - getting away from the previous government's proposed changes to school councils. 
Headland speech from the Minister due next month.

Network based data
Discussion about data confidentiality. 
( Data protocols)
Regional school improvement plan presented.
Data sets for the region were distributed and are not looking good.( But there is nothing new about that)
The data is about looking at trends and commonalities across schools.
Region intend to release 'like school' data - just like the old SLR or School Level Reports ...sigh
( Network specific data would be good) Again nothing new about Network specific data!
Schools will also get LGA - Local Government Area data which isn't very useful.
The data shows that our region falling behind in early childhood development.
The level of developmental delay causing a performance gap between the region and the state.
Attendance rates behind state levels especially in year 8-10!
Retention rate is lower than the state.
Writing data in our region is particularly poor and trending down from year 5.
Achievement in writing ( NAPLAN ) declining. It is comparable  to year 3 and then heads below the state in year 5,7 and 9.( I would argue that high school students don't take NAPLAN seriously and they should find another measure. It won't be teacher judgements because schools are now going it alone with reports! There's another data set gone)
Regions VCE scores continue to decline.
NOTE: our network ( Moorabool ) wasn't shown in the data set which is both perplexing and annoying!
East Grampians data was presented to us. This data contains a lot of information and we were asked to look at the literacy domain and to look for patterns emerging that could be a future focus and then to look at an area that requires a particular focus.
Writing data in our region is particularly poor and trending down from year 5.(Some high end students in year 5 might be lost to private schools that offer scholarships.) But it is of concern particularly as writing was identified at least  6 years ago as a problem ( Our Network at that time engaged in writing PD to help our schools in this area. We used our 'network specific data' to develop a plan to address the issue and got on with getting it done. we hired Lesley Wing Jan to run work shops and at leas2 curriculum days on it. k know I changed the way I did some things with positive results. I'm not sure about other network schools. Networks were abolished 4 years ago so I guess nobody will know for sure) and there is seemingly still no improvement.( I think we are relying too much on NAPLAN for our data. it is not infallible. Pity the last government didn't roll over our statewide QuickVic contract. From this year we won't have teacher judgements against AusVELS to use. More self-defeating cost cutting)

A regional conference ( 14th-15th May - which is NAPLAN week) has been organised and the agenda was briefly discussed. Marzano research ( higher reliability)will be a feature of the conference. The theme will be The Successful Schools Conference. I will have to remain at school to administer the NAPLAN test.The cost is also a prohibitive $500 plus travel, accommodation and 2 days of CRT funding.No funding support was offered.
I did not stay for the afternoon session.
Thanks to Alison Middleton who filled in for me this morning. She had a great day with the kids. 

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