The Educator Weekend Wrap: Govt slams states, school asbestos fears and principals expand horizons

In this week’s top story, Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, blasted state governments for having the “gall” to complain about an education funding crisis which he says does not exist. Birmingham made the comments during a speech to the Independent Schools Council of Australia (ISCA) yesterday, where he slammed the states for “failing to invest in their own schools”. NSW Secondary Principals Council (NSWSPC) president, Lila Mularczyk, who is an advocate of the Gonski funding model, called the Birmingham’s statements “incomprehensible”. “I can’t fathom where this incompressible approach of the Education Minister is coming from,” she told The Educator. “The evidence is in. It’s an evidence-based model and there are narratives and evidence showing how targeted funding is changing learning outcomes. What we now need is certainty of long-term funding.”

In other news, an audit revealed that only 3% of state schools in Victoria were found to be asbestos-free at the beginning of last year, according to data obtained by the Opposition through Freedom of Information. The audit found that just 39 of 1,440 audited schools were asbestos-free. Despite the finding, the Victorian Government said it was confident it would meet its election promise of ridding the dangerous substance from all schools by 2020. The Andrews government allocated $42m to demolish or replace asbestos-riddled portables in last year's Budget. It has almost finished auditing all schools in the state and will remove the material during works to modernise 67 schools. However, Opposition education spokesman, Nick Wakeling, said the state government had “no clear plan” on how it would fulfil this promise.

Finally, in what is being hailed as an Australian first, principals will soon embark on an invaluable learning experience, swapping places with foreign counterparts. The program, slated to begin in July, will see primary and secondary school principals in South Australia switch places with fellow principals from New Zealand. The exchange will last 10 weeks and be aimed at helping principals experience school systems that are different from our own so that they can return with an enriched perspective, Education Minister, Dr Susan Close, told ABC. The exchange will initially be trialled in New Zealand due to its proximity and similarities in teaching standards – however the program may be expanded to Asian countries in future.

*Don't forget, The Educator's Education Report survey closes April 15