Wednesday, 30 May 2018
Monday, 28 May 2018
Victorian state schools with large numbers of students from outside their area will soon start rejecting families following changes that wind back parents' school choice.
Under new Education Department rules, schools will not be entitled to extra portable classrooms from next year if 50 per cent or more of their students do not live locally.
Turning away out-of-area families has been a long-running practice at zoned schools and now, other schools will start refusing enrolments on similar grounds.
The move is a departure from successive governments' mantra of families being able to choose the school of their choice, and is aimed at curbing the growth of large schools and encouraging students to attend their nearest school.
Around 15 per cent of Victorian schools – or about 230 schools– received a phone call from the Education Department late last week and were told they'd be impacted because at least half their enrolments were non-local.
The education department told these schools also had limited space.
The plan has divided the community: principal groups and the state opposition have slammed it as ill-conceived while the Australian Education Union, parent and public education lobby groups say it will lead to better outcomes for students.
“It has been a clandestine strategy to wind back parent choice and to save money in the process,” Berwick Lodge Primary School principal Henry Grossek said.
Mr Grossek said 70 per cent of his enrolments are from outside the local area, and many of these students bypassed their closest school because it was overcrowded.
If enrolments increase to the point where he needs a new portable he'll have to reject prospective out-of-area students because he won't be provided with facilities to accommodate them. This will exacerbate enrolment pressures on other schools, while his school has capacity for more students, he said.
“Up until last last week we were advised that unless your school has a zone, you must take kids from outside your neighbourhood,” he said. “Now that's all changed.”
Education Minister James Merlino said schools could accommodate non-local students if there was enough space.
"We can’t have schools where they are accepting enrolments from the other side of the city which results in dozens of portables taking up vital space where children play," he said.
"It also adds strain on the school when they need to accommodate local children in future years."
Victorian Principals Association president Anne-Maree Kliman said principals were not consulted and had been put in a difficult position as they started enrolling students for 2019.
“Now they have been told they won't get facilities if they need them,” she said.
She suspects the “drastic” change is a response to Victoria’s booming student population and aimed at ensuring there's a more even spread of students across schools.
The move could be politically sensitive ahead of November's state election, with the opposition's education spokesman Tim Smith accusing the Andrews government of "punishing kids and parents for simply choosing a school that isn't the closest to their home."
But Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said letting students attend the school they want and allowing schools to grow risked creating a "stratified education system".
Cate Hall, the president of public education lobby group Our Children our Schools, said attending the local school strengthened communities and encouraged students to walk and cycle.
According to Ms Hall, the school choice mantra has "resulted in poor equity outcomes, with some schools lacking both students and resources, and others crammed with portables".
Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy said attending the local school should be a priority, but governments needed to ensure every school was funded properly.
Divya Sharma is among tens of thousands of Victorian parents whose children don't attend their closest school. Her daughter Lavanya, who is in grade 5 , and son Eshan, who is in prep, attend Glendal Primary School in Glen Waverley. She was attracted to the school's dedicated teachers and impressive robotics program.
The family used to live in a unit in the area, but upsized to a house in Mount Waverley more than a year ago.
"I want to choose which school I send them to," she said. "It's critical."
Thursday, 24 May 2018
Today is Public Education Day, a day on which we can celebrate the importance of state schools, while also demanding they receive the federal funding they need and deserve. We've been out and about today, launching our Fair Funding Now! campaign, which we intend to make a key election issue in the months ahead. Please sign up to get on board with the campaign.
I want to use this occasion to express my thanks to principals, teachers and support staff in public schools for their work and commitment. You are what makes our public schools worth fighting for.
Following our successful principals conference two weeks ago, tomorrow we will host our annual reps conference. If your school has reps attending, thank you for facilitating their attendance. As always, the purpose is to inspire and encourage our reps, which feels particularly important given this is an important election year. With the state election due in November and the possibility of a federal election any time after August, we need to make sure our members' voices are heard.
The AEU is determined to ensure all our schools receive Fair Funding Now! Principals know better than most the difference this would make. We can lobby but it is the power of collective action that delivers results.
The translation of 10,030 school staff from insecure to ongoing work didn’t happen overnight. It was through the efforts of our members – attending and making submissions to the Insecure Work Inquiry, ensuring it was front and centre in our log of claims ahead of the enterprise agreement negotiations, and keeping it on the table during the enterprise agreement discussions – we delivered an outcome.
Our I Give A Gonski campaign, which helped deliver much-needed funding into schools was another reminder of the power a union of 50,000 members has in making our issues become the ones that change votes.
Our Fair Funding Now! campaign is continuing that good work and we'll be talking about it a lot in the coming weeks and months. I hope you'll be talking about it too. As we get closer to election time, we want you to understand just how powerful your voice is.
Meredith Peace, AEU Victoria President
Monday, 21 May 2018
Sunday, 13 May 2018
14 May 2018 : The QTU has today released the results of a member survey regarding NAPLAN and MySchool. As at 30 April, the survey had 4491 responses from QTU members including classroom teachers, specialist teachers, principals, deputy principals, associate administrators and guidance officers. Responses to the survey are detailed in the Report of Survey Results however, some key findings are:
- 46% of QTU members responding to this survey never or rarely use the NAPLAN student data. Over half (57.4%) find the data from NAPLAN either useless or barely useful in their teaching practice.
- 85% of respondents have practice tests conducted at their school in preparation for NAPLAN. Teachers feel the time used on this could be better spent elsewhere.
- Teachers do not think that students’ experience of school is enhanced by NAPLAN testing. In fact 2/3 (66.6%) think that if NAPLAN testing ceased to exist tomorrow, their students' experience of school would be better.
- 65% of teachers and principals feel that if NAPLAN testing ceased to exist tomorrow, their job satisfaction would be higher.
- Almost all respondents (94%) think that NAPLAN testing is not low stakes or light touch.
- 80% of teachers and principals said that the protections put in place to prevent league tables being published have been unsuccessful.
- Teachers and principals are not supportive of NAPLAN in its current form with 78% stating that they think student outcomes have not improved over the past 10 years. Two thirds think that NAPLAN has in fact been harmful.
- Respondents overwhelmingly agree that it is time for the government to have a rethink on NAPLAN with 93% wanting a comprehensive review into NAPLAN or national standardised testing to be conducted in this country.
Saturday, 12 May 2018
Labor has hit out at the federal government’s criticism of a decision to fund the upfront fees for 100,000 Tafe students.
The education minister, Simon Birmingham, has questioned the announcement contained in Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech, saying the promise to give more money to state governments comes with no clarity about which courses will be covered.
He said the last time Labor made changes in vocational education what resulted was a “disastrous” VET FEE-HELP program “that subsidised everything from energy healing to basket weaving and saw billions of taxpayer dollars rorted and tipped down the sink”.
Bowen said Labor’s plan would prioritise courses in the national interest, where there are skills shortages.
“To suggest somehow Tafe courses are dodgy is an absolute insult by Simon Birmingham,” he said.
Bowen said the government’s seven-year plan for tax cuts was a “cruel and sick joke” and relief should be implemented sooner.
“[The government has] tried to make this about seven years time instead of what we can all do in the next term,” Bowen told Sky News on Sunday.
He said he was happy for the upcoming byelections and federal election to be fought on tax, with Labor supporting cuts for low- and middle-income earners announced in last week’s budget – although would effectively double them in government.
Thursday, 10 May 2018
Victorian private schools have taken the unprecedented step of complaining to the state's most senior Catholic about "vitriolic" attacks on their schools.
In a move that will intensify the fight within Victoria's non-government school sectors, Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green wrote to Archbishop Denis Hart to raise concerns about the Catholic sector's "unseemly" campaign against school funding changes.
Victorian Independent schools have written to Archbishop Denis Hart to raise concerns about the Catholic sector's school funding campaign.
She took particular aim at Catholic Education Commission of Victoria executive director Stephen Elder, who she accused of denigrating schools in other sectors.
"After considerable thought, I am writing to you to express profound disappointment at the public commentary about independent schools by the executive director of the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria, Mr Stephen Elder," she wrote in the May 3 letter.
"In campaigning against the Australian government’s school funding reforms, he has, unfortunately, repeatedly impugned the integrity of independent schools and those who work in them."
Ms Green said Mr Elder had accused independent schools of making fraudulent claims for students with a disability, being privy to "special deals" with the government, and misusing capital works funding from the government.
She said there was no substance to these allegations.
"It is a matter of great regret that the common interests that we share with Catholic education have been called into question by Mr Elder’s vitriolic commentary," she said.
In October, Mr Elder accused wealthy independent schools of "gaming the system" to get more funding for students with a disability.
"Education Minister Simon Birmingham is letting wealthy independent schools – the biggest backers of his funding policies – game the system," he told at the time.
But Mr Elder hit back on Wednesday, saying he made no apology for doing his job in the face of the Turnbull government's "unprecedented attack on the Catholic education system".
He said Catholic schools expected him to be a robust advocate for their interests, and he was proud of the sector's school funding research.
"Senator Birmingham has responded with bureaucratic boilerplate while the independent school sector has only offered rhetoric in response," he said. "They have been unable to rebut our research or produce anything substantial to contradict our conclusions."
He also pointed out that Colette Colman, the head of the Independent Schools Council of Australia, had previously accused the Catholic sector of having "special deals" for 40 years.
The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria has run a relentless campaign against the Turnbull government's Gonski 2.0 package, saying it will benefit wealthy independent schools at the expense of Catholic schools, hike up school fees and force poor families to leave the sector.
But Ms Green said while the changes weren't perfect, they were an attempt to ensure consistency, fairness and predictability.
"We welcome the prospect of a sector-blind funding model," she said.
"Some independent schools will lose, while others will gain, based on the needs of the students they enrol."
Traditionally, the non-government sector has worked together to advocate for their schools.