- Minister for Education
The Andrews Labor Government is taking further action to address challenges facing students in regional Victoria and to bridge the divide between regional and metropolitan schools.
Minister for Education James Merlino has today ordered the establishment of an Expert Advisory Panel for Rural and Regional Students, to examine why regional students are falling behind their metropolitan counterparts and make recommendations on how to address this critical issue.
This major announcement comes after the agreement of a new school funding deal which will see the Labor Government provide an additional approximate $7 billion to our government schools over the five-year term of the agreement in comparison with 2018 funding.
This challenge facing rural and regional schools is a national issue that has existed for many years. NAPLAN data from across the country shows the performance of regional and rural schools is around 20 points or more behind that of metropolitan schools.
All states and territories face challenges in bridging the divide between metropolitan and regional student achievement, however, the Labor Government is determined to take a lead role in finding solutions to this issue.
The Expert Advisory Panel for Rural and Regional Students will undertake consultation meetings with key stakeholders in Ballarat, Bendigo, Horsham, Mildura, Morwell, Wangaratta and Warrnambool across July and August, to engage with regional communities.
The Panel will be chaired by Dr David Howes, chief executive of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, and include principals and regional education experts. The Panel will make findings and recommendations that will inform the Labor Government’s future decisions on initiatives and supports needed to help regional and rural schools and students.
This is an issue that has faced the country for more than a decade and that is why since 2015, schools in regional and rural Victoria have received almost double the increase in equity funding per student compared to their metropolitan counterparts. This funding allows schools to provide extra specialised support to students who need it. The best use of this funding will be considered as part of the Panel’s work.
The Government has delivered a range of programs to support rural and regional students to achieve excellence in their schooling, including expanding the School Breakfast Clubs Program, providing access to doctors for dozens of regional secondary schools and helping regional schools lift performance through specialised teams of expert teachers.
Virtual learning is being expanded to make sure every VCE subject is available to all students in rural and regional areas. Victoria is also leading the nation when it comes to lifting the bar for those who want to become teachers, by lifting the minimum ATAR to ensure that only the top 30 per cent of students can enter teacher training.
As noted by Minister for Education James Merlino
“We are already doing a lot to boost results in regional and rural Victoria, but we now need to look at what more we can do and that is why this panel is so important.”
As noted by Expert Advisory Panel for Rural and Regional Schools chairperson Dr David Howes
“This is about listening to local communities to understand what challenges are preventing regional and rural students from meeting their aspirations.”