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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Pyne’s elitist education u-turn deserts struggling students

Posted by Steve on December 1, 2013


Hundreds of thousands of Australian students will continue to struggle at school if the Coalition refuses to honor funding promises to Australian public schools, says Australian Greens spokesperson for Schools Senator Penny Wright.

Senator Wright said after days of deliberate deceit by Education Minister Christopher Pyne, a meeting of education ministers today had revealed Federal Government’s education cuts would only affect public schools.

“This government has finally revealed their true education agenda – to give even more to those who already have more, and take from those who can least afford it,” Senator Wright said.

“This is an utter betrayal of the public and our students to so completely abandon the principles of the Gonski review, which was about finally ending the huge education gaps between the most and least privileged children.

“Whether it is kids from the country, kids with disabilities or kids with tough family circumstances, the students who need extra help overwhelmingly attend public schools.

“If public schools lose out, thousands and thousands of these kids suffer. The Coalition’s plan is elitist and shameful in the extreme.

“State education ministers said today’s meeting was heated – I can only imagine how inflamed it would have been if the room had been filled with parents from around the country because a more complete duplicity is difficult to imagine.

“The Australian Greens will continue to stand up for schools and students all around this country and we are committed to blocking the Coalition’s efforts to desert Australia’s most needy children.”

Wage rise needed to keep talented teachers in classrooms

Posted by Steve on April 7, 2013


A push for higher salaries for teachers should spark a national conversation about the recognition of the teaching profession, says Australian Greens spokesperson for Schools, Senator Penny Wright.

“It is wonderful that there is growing recognition of the need to treat teaching as we treat other professions,” Senator Wright said.

“At the moment, teachers reach the highest pay level very quickly and the only way they can advance their careers is to move out of the classroom to administrative roles.

“The Australian Greens know that if we want the best and brightest to be teaching our students, we have to offer career opportunities and incentives to stay in teaching positions.

“Last year, an OECD Education at a Glance report showed that the salaries of experienced teachers in Australia are lagging behind their counterparts in other countries.

“A very large number of prominent institutions, businesses and individuals are calling for a new approach to teacher pay, and I encourage State and Federal Governments to begin this discussion in earnest.

“We need to attract the best to teaching and we need to keep them there once they are in the workforce, which means fair wages, appropriate career structures and support for the challenging work they do.”

Greens will work with government to support students

Posted by Steve on June 20, 2012

In the wake of today’s High Court decision overturning John Howard and Julia Gillard’s school chaplaincy program, the Greens are offering to work with the government to ensure the remainder of the $222 million is spent to the benefit of students in employing properly qualified counsellors and student support officers.

“This decision by the High Court has very potentially far-ranging implications which will take some time to digest, but the Greens welcome both the overturning of the school chaplains program and the confirmation that executive government must legislate through the parliament to a much greater extent in relation to the expenditure of public money,” said Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne.

“On the constitutional issue, the Greens will be carefully examining the implications of the decision, including the ramifications for federal-state relations, but we have always believed that decisions of the executive, particularly the expenditure of money, should be subject to the scrutiny by the democratically elected parliament.

“As to the chaplaincy issues, schools across Australia need the resources to employ properly qualified counsellors, student support officers and other non-teaching staff to help students through difficult times.

“That’s what this program should always have been, and we look forward to working with the government to legislate for a program to use these funds wisely to support schools and students.”

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson for Youth Affairs, said “The government must not scrap the money allocated to chaplains but instead roll it over to fund properly-trained counsellors and student support officers.

“The High Court has given the government the chance to get the support and welfare program right, so that our school-aged children can get proper support to handle problems such as bullying and self-esteem or difficulties they may be facing at home.

“We know that the needs of students at different schools are not the same. Schools need to be able to choose what type of support or welfare officer best meets the needs of their students.

“For example, school students in rural areas may need different sorts of support to their peers in the city. Schools with large bodies of students who don’t speak English as a first language will have needs different from students at other schools.

“The Greens’ policy has been that schools should have the right to choose who they wanted to counsel students, and that those offering that help to have met minimum qualifications set by the federal Education Department.”

Schools finally given choice with revamped chaplains programme

Posted by Steve on September 11, 2011

Say No to School Chaplains

The federal government has at last let schools decide who they want to counsel their students, and ensure they have appropriate training, according to the Australian Greens.

“We welcome this announcement after taking this much-needed expansion to the 2010 election,” Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens’ spokesperson for youth affairs, said.

“The Greens have been saying for years a major problem with the programme was it forced schools into getting only a chaplain, rather than someone with basic qualifications.

“Now, schools will get to choose, and also know that whoever they decide to appoint will have minimum qualifications set by the Federal government – a glaring omission that needed fixing.

“Students will also benefit because while they are grappling with the complexities of being young, they will, at last, be talking with an adult who has qualifications, rather than just belonging to a religious group.

“The Greens will be monitoring the changes to the chaplaincy programme to ensure the government keeps its promises to amend the faults in a scheme which costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

“This expansion is welcome in that it now gives schools the choice, including the retention of a chaplain, if the school body determines they best suit their needs. The problem has all along been a lack of qualified staff to support students, but now this will finally happen.”

Greens hope High Court challenge to chaplains programme succeeds

Posted by Steve on August 10, 2011

The Australian Greens say they hope a High Court challenge to the National School Chaplaincy Programme, which began today, will succeed and lead to an overhaul of the scheme.

“This is of course a programme where Australian taxpayers spend hundreds of millions of dollars on staff to support students who can do so without appropriate qualifications,” Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens’ spokesperson for youth affairs, said.

“I look forward to hearing the results as they unfold in the court and hope that the High Court will uphold the need for students to have qualified staff there to support them, and ensure that it is quality over anything else that we hold up as important for our young people and children.

“Whether it’s bullying at school, issues to do with sexuality and other questions about the world, let’s make sure people have access to qualified support, not simply people who are there because they happen to have some connection to a religious group.”

Govt must not delay reforms to child care sector

Posted by Steve on July 3, 2011

The Australian Greens have welcomed the Productivity Commission’s report into the early childhood education and care workforce and hope it results in necessary improvements to the sector.

“The Opposition wants delays on the required reforms to the sector, but we say the brakes should not be applied,” the Greens’ early childhood education and care spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said today.

“We agree with the Productivity Commission’s draft findings that government should help pay for the cost increases associated with improving staffing to children ratios and boosting the skills of those staff.

“The Greens call on the federal government to conduct an independent cost-benefit analysis with the end goal of creating a more affordable child-care sector.

“We believe the government should carry the costs and not pass them on to parents, particularly those from lower socio-economic backgrounds who can least afford rising child care fees.

“The Greens also note the federal government’s long-term goal of lifting the level of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds who attain tertiary education and believe starting with the early childhood education and care sector is crucial to achieving this.”

Greens concerned about possible school chaplaincy guidelines breach

Posted by Steve on May 14, 2011

The Australian Greens are concerned by reports a ministry in Victoria may have breached federal guidelines covering the chaplaincy programme in public schools.

Access Ministries has been accused of trying to convert students into “disciples”, contrary to federal regulations.

“We await the review of Access Ministries by the Federal Education Department, something Peter Garrett has indicated will happen because the federal guidelines as ‘crystal clear’ on proselytising in schools,” stated the Greens’ education spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young.

The government announced in the budget this week that the National Schools Chaplaincy programme will cost $222m over the forward estimates and be extended to cover as many as 1,000 more schools.

“We argue it should be up to schools to decide how they want to use that money, not the department,” Sen. Hanson-Young said.

“Schools should be getting qualified counsellors to properly assess the various needs of students. What are chaplains qualified in? “Different schools have different needs. There should be two main criteria for counsellors – an ability to service the needs of a particular student community, and that their qualifications are relevant to the position.

“$74 million a year has already been allocated in the budget for the chaplaincy programme. The government could replace the chaplains with a student support programme to give students the services they need, and that counsellors are qualified for.

“A school may decide they want to retain their chaplain or instead hire a qualified counsellor or youth coordinator or someone who has experience liaising with different service groups. Ultimately, it should be a school’s decision.”

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