In a bid to address challenges facing students in regional Victoria, the Victorian Government has announced new plans that aim to bridge the divide between regional and metropolitan schools.
One 17 June 2019, the 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 the issue.
The Victorian Government highlighted that the challenge facing rural and regional schools is a national issue that has existed for several years, referencing national NAPLAN data that shows the performance of regional and rural schools is around 20 points or more behind that of metropolitan schools.
“We are already doing a lot to boost results in regional and rural Victoria, but we now need to look at what more we can do and that is why this panel is so important,” said Minister Merlino.
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 and August 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.
“This is about listening to local communities to understand what challenges are preventing regional and rural students from meeting their aspirations,” said Dr Howes.
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.
Since 2015, schools in regional and rural Victoria have received almost double the increase in equity funding per student compared to their metropolitan counterparts. The best use of this funding will be considered as part of the Panel’s work.