AEU urges Victorians to put education first - Education Matters Magazine
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AEU urges Victorians to put education first

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In the weeks leading up to the 2014 Victorian election, the Australian Education Union (AEU) will ramp up its ‘Put Education 1st’ campaign, urging Victorians to vote for public education.

AEU Victorian branch President Meredith Peace said it will distribute material to members that outline the education policies of the major parties to help them make a judgement so their vote can boost the state’s education sector.

Speaking with Education Matters, Peace said it’s not surprising education has become a key election issue as students, parents, teachers and the broader community increasingly understand the importance of a good education.

“We’ve worked really hard, not only to talk to our members, but to get out there and talk to the community about some of the critical issues affecting public education in this state,” she said. “We believe the current Coalition government has failed public education in terms of what they have done over the last four years.

“Parents understand how important education is to their children’s future and they’re keen for their children to get every opportunity for a good quality education that is properly resourced by government.”

Peace sighted school resourcing the most critical issue facing Victoria’s education sector, adding that schools need the capacity to run a breadth of curriculum to give students a range of pathways in their schooling.

“In the school sector Victorian students are funded $1881 below the national average, so that’s puts us behind a lot of the other states and territories,” she said. “To make that figure more realistic, in a school of 500 students that is the equivalent of nine full-time teachers – that sort of resource would make a huge difference to what schools are able to provide.

“Better resourcing also means being able to provide proper literacy and numeracy support for children that have learning difficulties or who are falling behind, and at the secondary level it could mean a more comprehensive VCE curriculum.”

The AEU is also calling for greater investment in teacher professional development and principal support, along with greater investment in school infrastructure and building projects to make up for the Coalition government’s cuts over the past four years.

“There’s been a lot said about the importance of teacher quality in delivering better outcomes for students, but government has actually failed to invest in the most important resource in that equation and that is the staff in our schools,” she said. “You talk to just about any principal and they talk about how isolated they feel, that there is a lack of support from their employer, and that they have difficulty getting support when needed. I would say that many of our principals felt abandoned.

“We’ve also had a long problem in Victoria over many decades of there not being enough investment in school infrastructure and are now in a situation where we’ve got massive growth of student numbers in certain parts of Melbourne and we don’t have the schools for them.”

Last week Labor leader Daniel Andrews announced the building of 11 new schools across Victoria, after earlier kicking off his election campaign by promising a $1.3 billion boost to Victoria’s education sector.

Peace welcomes Labor’s education boost as a good start but says it doesn’t resolve all issues.

The Victorian election will be held on Saturday 29th November.