For years the big wigs ( that is not intended to be a Napoli pun) have let down time and time again those of us in schools who are doing the heavy lifting. Especially during the 4 wasted years of the previous government and this year of transition. My concern is that we will have as principals more red tape to wade through and flaming hoops to leap through when DET in Melbourne just spend their time unjustly patting themselves on the back and rewarding themselves quite handsomely thank you very much. The comments from the AGs report are Damning! Are they a consequence of the yes men and women that supported the Fraser's, Napolis and Rosewarnes or was the rot in place before that? Has anything changed?
The Age report:
Education executives have been awarded generous performance bonuses despite a drop in the number of students who are completing year 12, meeting basic learning standards or taking part in vocational training.
The Sunday Age can reveal that 57 well-paid executive staff secured bonuses totalling $553,927 for their efforts over the past 12 months – an average of $9718 each – at the same time that student performance declined and former senior staff were being investigated by the anti-corruption watchdog for systematically rorting public schools.
The payments have frustrated teachers and the public sector union, and some have called on the government to review the reward system for performance bonuses across the bureaucracy.
But the department has defended the financial rewards, with a spokesman pointing out that they are contingent on executives "exceeding specific, pre-selected expectations relevant to their brief."
Victoria's education department is responsible for supporting 576,000 students at 1500 government schools. According to its latest annual report, which was tabled in parliament last week, the department has 78 executives whose total remuneration was worth $16.8 million last financial year, with salaries ranging from $120,000 to $839,999 at the top of the scale.
But while 57 of those executives were granted bonuses for their work, the annual report also shows that in the lead up to the rewards, performance in schools and vocational training declined on a range of indicators.
For instance, between 2013 and 2014 (the latest available figures) the proportion of students completing year 12 or its equivalent dropped from 90.1 per cent to 89.1 per cent. The number of students meeting minimum literacy standards fell in years 3, 5, and 9; the rate of students satisfied with vocational education and training declined for the fourth consecutive year; and enrolments in VET fell by up to 18 per cent.
The figures come at a sensitive time for the department, which is trying to improve its internal structures in the wake of the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission's investigation into "banker schools", whereby a group of executives were caught rorting education funds for their own benefit.
Earlier this month, a report by Victoria's financial watchdog also slammed the state's education bureaucracy after 27 audits which "consistently revealed a depressing pattern of underperformance", a "culture of complacency" and a "flawed" executive performance system.
"Many in positions of leadership are rewarded without any adequate consideration of how they have performed. Underperformance is often rewarded and accountability is not sufficiently valued," said acting Auditor-General Peter Frost.
The government hopes its so-called "education state" agenda will lift results in public schools, through extra resources for students, improved professional development for teachers, and an ambitious target to reduce the rate of high school drop outs by 50 per cent over the next 10 years.
In a bid to weed out the kind of corruption revealed by IBAC, the department is also establishing a new whistleblower service to encourage people to speak out anonymously, along with integrity strike teams with a direct line to the head of the department, secretary Gill Callister.
As for the bonus payment system, a department spokesman said: "Payment of bonuses is contingent on executives exceeding specific, pre-selected expectations relevant to their brief. Executives are required to have a written plan that measures their effectiveness to deliver agency outcomes and are paid a bonus where they are assessed as exceeding the requirements of their performance criteria."
Community and Public Sector Union boss Karen Batt said the litany of reports criticising the department's performance over the years "should be sufficient to embarrass any education senior executive into repaying their bonus immediately and most likely the preceding years as well."
Australian Education Union state president Meredith Peace said: "For Victoria to become the education state, there must be shared accountability across the system, with appropriate resources and staffing to achieve what our governments and community expect of our education systems."