Rudd comes back on education policy

11 May

Again I will confine myself to schools, leaving the whole argument about tertiary policy to others. Kevin Rudd said:

Education Revolution

Every country in the world knows the more you invest in the education, skills and training of your people, the more productive your economy becomes. The problem we have in Australia is that against so many of our competitor economies, we are falling behind.

It is time to put a stop to this by investing in a real Education Revolution – not just increasing investment but also raising the standards. For Labor, we actually believe in education. It’s not something we’ve cooked up over night. It’s one of our core values – and has been so for more than a century.

So what have we done about it? Since the beginning of the year we have released six chapters of our Education Revolution including:

— early childhood education
— literacy and numeracy
— boosting the teaching and studying of maths and science in schools and universities by offering a significant reduction in HECS
establishing a national curriculum board to develop a uniform national curriculum for the core subjects of English, history, maths and science
— and a program to foster the building and sharing of new first class facilities between schools, be they government or non-government.

I am particularly proud of our $450 million policy on early childhood education providing pre-literacy and pre-numeracy play-based learning for all four year olds for 15 hours a week, 40 weeks a year, with a fully trained teacher. The earlier you invest in a child’s educational opportunities, the better the result. Good for the child. Good for the country.

But while we offer this plan for the future, at present Australia ranks last out of the 32 richest economies in the world on the amount our national government invests in early childhood education. If we are serious about facing the future, this must change – and it must change now.

Trades Training Centres in Schools

Tonight I want to announce a further chapter in Labor’s Education Revolution. Mr Speaker, Labor sees no difference in value between a trade certificate and a university degree. I understand that not every young person wants to go to university. If elected to government, we will implement one of the biggest reforms in vocational education and training in Australian schools in history. It’s time to help bring trade training in schools into the 21st Century.

A Labor Government will implement a $2.5 billion Trades in Schools program over ten years to build new Trades Training Centres and upgrade existing facilities and equipment in all of Australia’s 2650 secondary schools – both government and non government.

This will mean an investment of $729 million spread over the four years to 2010-11. Each secondary school in Australia will be eligible for capital funding of between $500 thousand up to $1.5 million to build trade workshops, computer laboratories and other facilities to expand vocational education and training opportunities.

Schools can apply to build metal workshops, commercial kitchens, automotive workshops, plumbing workshops, graphic design labs as well as ICT laboratories. And they can purchase equipment including drills, grinders, wood and metal turning lathes, ovens, soldering and welding equipment and computers. The extra recurrent costs for running the new Trade Training Centres will be negotiated between the Commonwealth and the states. Labor will also provide $84 million over four years to ensure access to on-the-job training for 20 weeks per year for year nine to 12 vocational education and trades students.

This is part of a new national objective I am announcing tonight to lift year-12 retention rates from 75 percent to 85 percent by 2015 and to 90 percent by 2020. There are two main reasons why we need to do this as a nation. First, we have a skills shortage, and skills have become a core economic challenge for the nation. This is particularly the case in the traditional trades. Anyone trying to build or renovate a home right now will know exactly what I am talking about.

But the tragedy is that there are so many young people of school age – or immediate post school age – who would be ideally suited to a career in the trades, who have simply dropped out all together. This is the second core reason underpinning our Trades in Schools program – it’s not only good for the economy, it’s good for young Australians as well. In 2006, 540,000 young Australians aged 16-24 were not engaged in either full time learning or work. Access Economics has estimated that if Australia raised its year 12 completion rates to 90 per cent from the 75 per cent it is today, we would add around $9 billion to our economy by the year 2040.

I am very proud of this new chapter of Labor’s Education Revolution. It’s our core business. On Tuesday night the Government stated that it would establish three new Australian Technical Colleges across the whole country.

Mr Speaker, if elected to government, we will make every secondary school that chooses, into a first-class provider of technical education.

This is considerably more than Peter Costello had to say on the subject, and that’s not just greater verbiage either. There is precedent too. Study the curriculum offerings at Hawker College, which I visited thirty years ago and was impressed with, a typical state senior high school in Canberra, which has been doing this for thirty years.

T Courses are accredited courses which have been approved as preparation for higher education. These courses provide the skills and knowledge considered necessary for higher education. T Course scores are used in preparing the University Admissions Index (UAI). For full information on the UAI see the Board of Senior Secondary Studies pamphlet What’s the UAI? available from Careers.

A Courses have been accredited by the Board of Senior Secondary Studies (BSSS) as suitable for study by students in Years 11 and 12. These courses provide a general education for Year 11 and 12 students.

V Courses are accredited Year 11/12 vocational courses designed to provide knowledge and skills directly relevant to a particular area of employment and for further vocational education and training. These courses have a workplace component, are recognised nationally and lead to New Apprenticeship and Traineeship opportunities both at and after College.

And all that works without a massive HSC exam at the end!

Memo to Julie Bishop

Thirty-two years ago The Poet and I both attended not a Summer School but an Easter School, residential, at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba, and it was intense, brilliant, and also fun. We had local and UK leaders in our field running the thing, and it was government funded. Teachers from state and private schools were there, notably Paul Brock, then a Marist Brother. No $5000 carrot was dangled in front of us. We were there because we cared about English teaching.

On the other hand, memo to both sides. Reward all teachers who undertake further education! Long overdue, that. Details of the Howard/Bishop policy, to kick in after the election, include:

…$53 million will be split among 1200 schools over four years, beginning after next year’s literacy and numeracy assessments. Schools and teachers will be chosen on the academic improvement – rather than the level – of their students. The scheme is designed to favour disadvantaged schools where students have the most room to improve.

Separately, Ms Bishop said “leading teachers” would be chosen to attend short courses in core subjects and rewarded with $5000 “bonuses”, plus expenses. The $100 million program will apply to 1000 teachers a year who are recommended by schools and accepted by the Government.

Parents of students performing badly will receive $700 tutorial vouchers, at a cost of $460 million.

State and territory education ministers oppose any model of performance pay linked to student results. “It will be very divisive within schools and isn’t a serious attempt to improve either student results or teaching standards,” said the NSW Minister for Education, John Della Bosca.

The president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Maree O’Halloran, said performance pay “fundamentally misunderstands” what motivates teachers to work with their students.

Critics of the summer school program say that with only 1000 allocated places a year it will take more than 200 years for all teachers in Australia to attend.

See also Costello, Budget, education and ideological drivers.

— a generic™ entry, Thomas! 😉

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One response to “Rudd comes back on education policy

  1. Lisa

    May 11, 2007 at 8:22 pm

    I heard Paul Brock speak last year. I was amazed by him, and his passion.

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