Boosting student outcomes in regional and rural Victoria

The Victorian Government is taking further action to address challenges facing students in regional Victoria and to bridge the divide between regional and metropolitan schools.

Victorian Minister for Education James Merlino has ordered the establishment of an Expert Advisory Panel for Rural and Regional Students, to examine why regional students are falling behind their metropolitan counterparts and make recommendations on how to address this critical issue.

This major announcement comes after the agreement of a new school funding deal which will see the Victorian Government provide an additional approximate $7 billion to our government schools over the five-year term of the agreement in comparison with 2018 funding.

This challenge facing rural and regional schools is a national issue that has existed for many years. NAPLAN data from across the country shows the performance of regional and rural schools is around 20 points or more behind that of metropolitan schools.

All states and territories face challenges in bridging the divide between metropolitan and regional student achievement, however, the Victorian Government is determined to take a lead role in finding solutions to this issue.

The Expert Advisory Panel for Rural and Regional Students will undertake consultation meetings with key stakeholders in Ballarat, Bendigo, Horsham, Mildura, Morwell, Wangaratta and Warrnambool across July 2019 and August 2019, to engage with regional communities.

The Panel will be chaired by Dr David Howes, chief executive of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, and include principals and regional education experts. The Panel will make findings and recommendations that will inform the Victorian Government’s future decisions on initiatives and supports needed to help regional and rural schools and students.

This is an issue that has faced the country for more than a decade and that is why since 2015, schools in regional and rural Victoria have received almost double the increase in equity funding per student compared to their metropolitan counterparts. This funding allows schools to provide extra specialised support to students who need it. The best use of this funding will be considered as part of the Panel’s work.

The Government has delivered a range of programs to support rural and regional students to achieve excellence in their schooling, including expanding the School Breakfast Clubs Program, providing access to doctors for dozens of regional secondary schools and helping regional schools lift performance through specialised teams of expert teachers.

Virtual learning is being expanded to make sure every VCE subject is available to all students in rural and regional areas. Victoria is also leading the nation when it comes to lifting the bar for those who want to become teachers, by lifting the minimum ATAR to ensure that only the top 30 per cent of students can enter teacher training.

Source: Vic Government