‘An important milestone for regional education’

‘An important milestone for regional education’

The Federal Government has announced that public submissions have opened for an independent review into regional, rural and remote schools.

Led by Emeritus Professor John Halsey of Flinders University, it will consider the key challenges and barriers that impact on students’ learning outcomes, including transitions toward, and success regarding, further study, training and employment.

Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, said the review offers an opportunity to level the playing field between city and country students.

“Students living outside our major cities face unique challenges compared to their city cousins which can cause significant disparities between their education outcomes,” Joyce said in a statement yesterday.

“We know rural and remote students are more likely to have developmental vulnerabilities when they start school, such as lower language and cognitive skills. Their NAPLAN results are generally lower and they go on to be under-represented in higher education”.

Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, said the discussion paper, prepared by the reviewer Emeritus Professor John Halsey, identified the key issues and challenges faced by rural students and posed areas of focus to stimulate ideas about possible solutions.

“We want to hear from the people on the ground living the experiences of regional education,” Birmingham said.

“Having now delivered a true model of needs-based funding for Australian schools – which results in an average annual rate of per student funding growth for students in regional and remote areas of 4.9% compared with 4.1% for all students – we are determined to ensure schools are armed with the best information to put this record funding to the most effective use possible.”

Birmingham said the inquiry is particularly keen to hear from members of the education community, families, employers, government agencies and the philanthropic sector about how the Federal Government can best support regional, rural and remote students to succeed in school and beyond.

“If you have firsthand experience on what’s working, fresh ideas or innovative solutions to improve regional, rural and remote education, we want to hear from you,” he said.

Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Bridget McKenzie, said the public submissions would highlight issues to be further explored by the review through face-to-face consultations in July and August.

"Liberal and Nationals backbenchers have long championed the importance of a specific focus on the unique challenges and needs of regional students, which this inquiry is delivering," Senator McKenzie said.

“The inquiry will be pounding the pavement in our regional areas, speaking to a wide range of affected communities in order to find solutions that will assist our young people succeed in the education and training so that they can find better jobs and better opportunities.”

The final report and recommendations of the independent review will be provided to Government by the end of this year and will be considered concurrently with the findings of the new Gonski review into achieving excellence in all Australian schools.”

Submissions for the review close at 5pm, AEST 29 August 2017. The final report and recommendations will be provided to the Government by the end of 2017.