School sectors welcome new Victorian Education Minister

School sectors welcome new Victorian Education Minister

New Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan has announced her cabinet, confirming Deputy Premier Ben Carroll as the Minister for Education, replacing Natalie Hutchins, who will now lead the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions as Minister for Jobs and Industry.

The sweeping changes to Victoria’s Government follow the shock resignation of Daniel Andrews last week, which set Monday’s cabinet reshuffle in motion.

The appointment of Carroll – who in the space of just six years has overseen 14 portfolios including corrections, youth justice, public transport, industry and innovation, and manufacturing – has been welcomed across the state’s vast education sector.

A big task ahead

The Australian Education Union’s Victoria Brach president, Meredith Peace said the union looks forward to working constructively with the new Minister to address the issues facing Victoria’s public education system to deliver positive outcomes for staff and students alike.

“Victoria is currently dealing with severe teacher shortages, with increasingly unsustainable workloads leading to many principals, teachers and support staff becoming burnt out, and some leaving the profession altogether,” Peace told The Educator.

“Addressing this workforce shortage remains a key priority for our members, despite the recent announcements to provide scholarships to students studying to become secondary teachers and improved mentor programs.”

Peace said while this investment was welcome, it was “inadequate in terms of what is needed”.

“We urge Minister Carroll to take more action to alleviate the pressure on our public schools.”

Resetting ‘a difficult relationship’

Independent Schools Victoria (ISV) chief executive Michelle Green said she hoped Carroll’s appointment would “lead to a reset in what has been a difficult relationship between non-government schools and the Victorian Government.”

“Mr Carroll brings to the portfolio a long-standing commitment to the importance of education as the fundamental building block for the success of our young people,” Green said.

‘He has a clear appreciation of the valuable role that non-government schools play in the Victorian education system. He also brings to the education portfolio a wealth of ministerial and parliamentary experience.”

Green said the relationship between the state’s government and independent schools had been put under strain due to the Andrews Government’s imposition of payroll tax on non-government schools.

“While we remain opposed to the tax, we want to ensure there’s a cooperative and respectful relationship between Independent schools and the government.”

'A nervous wait'

Berwick Lodge Primary School principal Henry Grossek has 56 years of experience as a teacher and 38 years as a school leader in Victoria. He says given the serious challenges the state’s schools are facing, and that Carroll’s position on public education remains unclear, principals have a “nervous wait”.

“Personally, I’d like to see a firm commitment by the Minister to provide one hundred per cent of SRS funding immediately, rather than in three-to-five years,” Grossek told The Educator. 

“We simply can’t wait that long to repair the damage to the image and workings of Victoria’s public education system.”

Grossek said that in terms of welcoming Carroll’s appointment, it’s “very much a wait and see situation”.

“There have been too many disappointments for too many years, and our profession is in a parlous state.”

Principals hope for ‘a strong and productive relationship’

Victorian Principals Association president, Andrew Dalgleish congratulated Deputy Premier Ben Carrol on his appointment, saying he brings a wealth of parliamentary and ministerial experience into the Victorian education system.

“We look forward to building a strong and productive relationship with both he and his staff in the in the coming months,” Dalgleish told The Educator.

“I wish to take the opportunity to thank Natalie Hutchins for her work as the Minister for Education and wish her all the best in her new role as Minister for Jobs and Industry.”