Victoria announces education reform
The Victorian Government has announced its planned education reform agenda after State Education Minister Martin Dixon delivered a lecture at the University of Melbourne, entitled Victoria as a Learning Community.
Mr Dixon said that as part of an increased emphasis on professional trust and autonomy for schools, the Victorian Coalition Government will develop a Compact with schools that will detail the responsibilities and expectations of the Education Department and of schools as part of a move to refocus the department as a support agency.
"In addition to a focus on professional trust, I want all members of the community to participate in strengthening Victoria's education system in order to lift student outcomes. This is what I mean by Victoria as a learning community," Mr Dixon said.
Mr Dixon described the three "non-negotiable principles" that will underpin the government's approach to educational reform:
- Parent choice: The government will aim to pursue high standards for all schools. It will also support parent choice by fostering diversity across the government school system, including support for specialist schools, selective entry schools and innovative programs such as the International Baccalaureate
- Local decision making: The government will give principals, in partnership with their parent community, the freedom to make decisions that best suit their school communities
- School community integration: The government will promote partnerships and greater involvement between schools and parents, business and the community.
Mr Dixon outlined five key reform areas as part of the agenda:
- Student outcomes – to equip young people with the knowledge and skills they will need for life and work in the 21st century, schools need to provide a broad educational experience that embraces skills such as problem-solving, creativity, flexibility and leadership. The government will also work with the entire education sector to determine what is essential to the curriculum and what is just desirable
- Order and inclusion – building on its achievements in this area, the government will ensure schools are safe, orderly and inclusive with initiatives including professional development to manage classroom behaviour. The government will also return control of Student Support Service Officers (SSSOs), including psychologists, social workers, speech pathologists and others, to schools. Funding for students attending specified alternative settings will now also "follow the student", giving students and their families greater flexibility
- Innovation – in the context of a focus on professional trust, the government will promote a culture of innovation where educators are encouraged to explore and trial evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning
- Partnerships – the government will support partnerships between schools, parents, business and community organisations. The Government will also work with schools and other stakeholders to ensure school networks are locally "owned" and facilitated. Schools will be empowered to design their own networks with local schools, schools in other regions or education sectors, community organisations and businesses, based on their needs
- Internationalising education – in an increasingly globalised world it is imperative young people are equipped to compete in a global economy and participate in a global society. This will require not only knowledge of other languages but also the skills (including in science and maths) to excel in a highly connected world. This government has recently released its vision for languages education, including compulsory learning of a second language for Prep to Year 10 students, and will build on this achievement in furthering its internationalising education agenda.
A discussion paper will be released early next year for community feedback.