The Andrews Labor Government is beginning consultation with regional communities across the state to address the challenges facing students in regional and rural Victoria.
Minister for Education James Merlino established the 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.
The panel, chaired by Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority chief executive Dr David Howes, will make recommendations to inform initiatives and support needed to help regional and rural schools and students.
The forums are being held over the next two weeks and will be attended by local principals, students, regional education experts and representatives from local government, community organisations and other authorities.
The first will be held today in Morwell, followed by Ballarat on 16 July, Warrnambool on 17 July, Horsham on 18 July, Mildura on 22 July, Bendigo on 23 July and Wangaratta on 25 July.
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.
Regional schools have trailed metropolitan schools across the country for more than a decade – that’s why since 2015, schools in regional and rural Victoria have received almost double the increase in equity funding per student compared to metropolitan schools, allowing schools to provide extra support to students who need it.
The Labor Government is delivering a range of programs to support rural and regional students, including making every VCE subject available to all students through virtual learning, expanding the School Breakfast Clubs Program and providing access to doctors for dozens of regional secondary schools.
Educators and community members can also make written submissions to the panel by visiting engage.vic.gov.au/regionalstudents.
As noted by Minister for Education James Merlino
“We want to hear more about the issues affecting regional and rural schools. This is an important opportunity for people in regional and rural communities to share their experiences and suggestions, and for Government to listen.”
As noted by Expert Advisory Panel for Rural and Regional Students chairperson Dr David Howes
“We’re looking forward to meeting with regional communities to listen their ideas and find out what we can do to further address the challenges facing regional and rural students.”