Labor welcomes the government’s support for early years students to help them bounce back to school-based learning, but says more needs to be done for other students in need.
Shadow Education Minister Josh Willie said resources should be extended to cover all students who require additional support to recover learning loss.
“During the COVID-19 crisis, our teachers and other school staff made an extraordinary effort to minimise the disruption to learning,” Mr Willie said.
“And, while they all did a wonderful job, remote learning has exposed many inequalities in our education system.
“National research released this week by the Grattan Institute highlighted inequalities that resulted in some students struggling during the period of remote learning, with some losing as much as a month of learning over the lockdown period.
“Some disadvantaged students who were already falling behind before the pandemic will now have fallen even further behind. This is especially the case for high school students who learnt from home for an extra two weeks.
“Students with a disability were also significantly impacted by the disruption as were their reasonable adjustments for education. They, too, will need targeted support to recover any learning loss.
“Before the pandemic, data from the Productivity Commission showed Tasmanian school students had the worst post-school outcomes, lowest literacy and lowest attendance and retention rates in the country.
“If we are to improve on that, we must heed the Grattan Institute’s call for investment in ‘catch-up’ learning to ensure that learning disadvantage is not carried forward.
“I also again urge the government to adopt Labor’s Mental Health Workers in Schools policy, which we know will boost support staff in our schools. The increase in isolation and anxiety caused by COVID-19 is exacerbating existing problems and impacting student learning.
“Labor was supportive of the school shutdowns to mitigate the public health risk but now is the time to invest in education, learn from this time and improve the system long term. Our kids deserve the best start in life. We owe it to them to help them through this anxious and disruptive time.”
Josh Willie MLC
Shadow Education Minister