Minister Merlino released his response to the Bracks Review late last week, stating that it “sets the direction for future reform of school education in Victoria.” The reality is that many of the recommendations haven’t been considered at this stage due to the re-election of the Turnbull government and their refusal to fund Gonski. The Minister has said these will be considered in the context of the state budget deliberations.
The response focuses on four major themes:
- Working toward the shared goal of improving outcomes for all students across all sectors
- Providing better information for all
- Targeting funding and resources to students in need and;
- Strengthening the school system through enhanced support, collaboration, capability and accountability.
The government has committed to adding a new member to the School Policy and Funding Advisory Council – a Council set up under amendments to ETRA which guaranteed non-government school students 25% of the funding government school students received (which we remain opposed to). This committee already includes representatives of both the catholic and independent sectors and we are disappointed to note that the additional person will be ‘representing the common interests of all Victorian students’. What this means in reality is that government schools still won’t have a designated representative on this important body, as the other sectors do.
Another disappointment is the move to create a new school funding website to provide clear explanations of government school funding. There is no mention of transparency and accountability for the non-government sector, despite the significant amounts of government funding they continue to receive and a recent VAGO report that indicated there was little transparency about the allocation of funding to non-government schools.
On the positive side, the response indicates that funding will be directed where the need is greatest, supporting principals to use proven intitiatives that lift student outcomes. In addition, there is a clear acknowledgement in a number of sections that they will do more to recognise and support our principals and teachers and that great teaching requires time. We look forward to how they might achieve that, particularly in the context of the current agreement negotiations.
Meanwhile in New Zealand