Jaensch COVID “plan” for Term Three does nothing to help students catch up

Tasmanian Labor

The Rockliff-Ferguson Government has done the bare minimum to ensure student and teacher safety as COVID continues to run rampant in the community.

As Education Minister Roger Jaensch today released a “plan” for the next school term starting at the end of this month, there has been no improved effort to recruit relief school staff and, importantly, no thought put into how students will catch up on learning missed in the first half of the year due to COVID disruptions.

With the threat of a third COVID wave looming the government has today made no new safety provision for vulnerable students or students with a disability.

We learned during the Estimates process that the Liberal Government’s promise at the beginning of the year that it had access to more than 1,700 relief teachers is not a true indication of the number of teachers available with 911 of the pool already working part time, with limited capacity to do more.

We know that the second dose vaccination rate among five-to-11 year olds has totally stalled at just over 51 per cent because of weak government messaging, even though it prevents serious illness and hospitalisation.

And we know that student absentee rates through the first half of the year were significant and that has the potential to impact student outcomes.

Mr Jaensch has failed today to outline what additional teaching support will be offered – if any – for catch up learning.

With the most recent Tasmanian NAPLAN results showing 28.5 per cent of Year Nines can not read above the level expected to engage in the wider curriculum, 41.5 per cent could not express themselves in written form and 23.4 per cent were not numerate, Mr Jaensch and the Liberals have today yet again proven that even faced with a disruption as serious as COVID, education is simply not their priority.

Josh Willie MLC

Shadow Minister for Education and Early Years

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