The top story this week was the announcement by Federal Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, of the “largest school funding boost in two generations”. Shorten took to social media to make the announcement, committing to the full six years of Gonski funding – a commitment the Australian Education Union (AEU) challenged the Federal Government to match. “Given this success so far, why would you not deliver the full funding recommended by the Gonski Review?” AEU federal president, Correna Haythorpe said in a statement. Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham responded by attacking Labor’s education policy, which he said was “short on detail”. “Labor’s schools press release fails the basic lesson of the last decade – more money doesn’t automatically equal better student outcomes,” he said.
In other news, it was back to school for thousands of students on Thursday. For some of them, the experience can be a traumatising one. The Educator spoke with professor Susan Spence from the Australian Institute of Suicide Research and Prevention about how schools and parents can make the experience a less stressful one for such students. “If it is a new school then make sure that students have visited the school and know their way around [with a visit before school starts] and know where their classroom, toilets and other facilities are,” Spence said. She added that it was also important for parents to talk about the positive aspects of school and what there is to look forward to.
Finally, as Geelong and Ballarat prepare to open the doors of their brand new P-Tech schools, The Educator spoke with Nicholas Wyman, CEO of Skilling Australia Foundation about the career opportunities the revolutionary schools will provide. “In Geelong, youth unemployment pushing towards 20%, so it’s absolutely critical for the students of the region to be prepared well beyond school,” Wyman told The Educator. “All of the Year 9 students are enrolled in the learning experiences over the next 12 months, and this will be an opportunity for them to meet the employers and get involved in some hands-on project-based activity. Wyman said schools should look at the way they deliver their curriculum and ask whether it is engaging and suitable for all students. He added that P-Tech schools will give students the opportunity to undertake regular high school but also advanced STEM-based learning programs.