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Schools funding: Education priority zones: local partnerships to improve education.



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Kim Beazley, Michael Lee - Education Priority Zones: Local Partnerships To Improve Education http://www.alp.org.au//media/_0700/kbmlmsepz310700.html

Tuesday, 09 October 2001

Education Priority Zones: Local Partnerships To Improve Education Kim Beazley, Leader of the Opposition, and Michael Lee, Shadow Minister for Education

Joint Media Statement - 31 July 2000

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Labor will establish a national network of Education Priority Zones (EPZs) to improve education results in disadvantaged areas.

EPZs represent a major shift in the Commonwealth's role in education.

No longer will the Commonwealth Government simply be a remote funder of education.

Through EPZs the Commonwealth will become an active partner with schools and local communities in dealing with local problems which are holding back young Australians. We will also work with State and Territory governments who will be an essential part of EPZs.

EPZs will combine the resources of the Commonwealth Government with the wisdom, talent and enthusiasm of local communities to solve their own problems, and will help share examples of best practice in education throughout Australia.

Each zone will be funded for four years and student performance will be closely monitored to ensure that the region gains the greatest benefit from the program.

We know that, on average, the children of poorer families do less well in

education and we know that people who don't do well in education generally have lower incomes and are less likely to obtain secure jobs.

We cannot allow poverty to be an excuse for educational failure. We cannot allow children's results to live up to a culture of low expectations.

EPZs will make education the priority in breaking the cycle of poverty and poor education.

Our aims are to improve literacy, increase Year 12 completion rates, and lift the number of young people going on to TAFE or university.

Each person who benefits will have a better chance of a secure, satisfying job, a decent income and a better foundation for continued learning and training throughout their life.

In each zone the Commonwealth will work with the community to develop a local plan which must include a commitment to focus on core educational outcomes, such as literacy, numeracy and Year 12 completion rates, and be accountable for improving them - through testing, reporting to parents and benchmarking against similar schools.

To achieve this, specific initiatives will be funded to address local needs identified by the community and agreed with the Commonwealth.

These initiatives could include:

employing specialist remedial literacy and numeracy teachers; ● extra professional development for teachers; ● introducing a community mentor program for students; ● encouraging local businesses and local government to work with

schools to motivate students, give them a better understanding of the importance of education to the world of work and offer appropriate workplace learning opportunities; and

●

strengthening the links between local schools, TAFEs and universities. ●

EPZs will also look at issues beyond the school gate, in particular, parents' involvement in schools and their expectations for their children.

While the Howard Government attacks public education and provides extra funding for some of Australia's wealthiest schools, Labor's plan is to target the students, the schools and the communities who need extra help.

EPZs and Labor's proposals to lift the quality of teaching by offering teacher scholarships and increased professional development for teachers, indicate the direction a Beazley Labor Government will take.

Education Priority Zones

Labor will establish a national network of Education Priority Zones (EPZs) to improve education results in disadvantaged areas.

We know that, on average, the children of poorer families do less well in education.

We also know that people who don't do well in education generally have lower incomes.

We cannot allow poverty to be an excuse for educational failure.

We cannot allow children's results to live up to a culture of low expectations.

Schools in poor areas where student outcomes are high demonstrate that these disadvantages can be overcome - and that is the goal of Labor's Education Priority Zones.

EPZs will make education the priority in breaking this cycle because better education results make it easier to get a secure, satisfying job and a decent income.

The EPZ program will provide assistance to zones with the clear aim to lift educational performance.

In each zone the Commonwealth will work with the community to develop a local plan.

The plan must include a commitment to focus on core educational outcomes, such as literacy, numeracy and Year 12 completion rates, and be accountable for improving them - through testing, reporting to parents and benchmarking against similar schools.

To achieve this, specific initiatives will be funded to address local needs identified by the community and agreed with the Commonwealth.

These initiatives could include:

employing specialist remedial literacy and numeracy teachers; ● extra professional development for teachers; ● introducing a community mentor program(*) for students; ● encouraging local businesses and local government to work with

schools to motivate students, give them a better understanding of the importance of education to the world of work and offer appropriate workplace learning opportunities; and

●

strengthening the links between local schools, TAFEs and universities. ●

EPZs will also look at issues beyond the school gate, in particular, parents' involvement in schools and their expectations for their children.

EPZs represent a major shift in the Commonwealth's role in education.

No longer will the Commonwealth Government simply be a remote funder of education.

Through EPZs the Commonwealth will become an active partner with schools and local communities in dealing with local problems which are holding back young Australians.

Each zone will be funded for four years and student performance will be closely monitored to ensure that the region gains the greatest benefit from the program.

EPZs will combine the resources of the Commonwealth Government with the wisdom, talent and enthusiasm of local communities to solve their own problems and will help share examples of best practice throughout Australia.

Q&A - Education Priority Zones

What evidence do you have of the link between poverty and bad education results?

The Parliamentary Library provides Members with a range of Census statistics on federal electorates. This data shows a very strong correlation between income and educational achievement. For example, the correlation co-efficient between median income and the percentage of persons with no post-school qualifications was very high at 0.83.

●

DETYA's Analysis of the 1996 National Schools English Literacy Survey (NSELS) found that children of upper professional or managerial parents had significantly higher literacy achievement than children of parents from clerical and skilled manual occupations who in turn had higher achievement than the children of parents working in unskilled, manual occupations.

●

A 1993 DEET/ACER paper looked at children who had completed year 12 and found that those who had professional parents were ●

almost twice as likely as those who had unskilled parents to go to university (p34) and those from the wealthiest 25% of families were 33% more likely to go to university than those from the poorest 25% (p49). (Williams et al, Entering Higher Education in the 1980s)

These inequities also have a regional dimension. DETYA's 1997 report, Regional Participation in Higher Education, concluded that "tertiary education participation rates are very much higher in metropolitan regions than in non-metropolitan regions … this pattern is evident for both university and TAFE participation".

●

When will the EPZs be selected?

Within the first hundred days of a Beazley Labor Government the criteria will be established. The selection process will be transparent and in co-operation with State and Territory education departments.

How will the EPZs be selected?

The zones will be chosen where social and educational disadvantage overlap. The Commonwealth has very detailed data on socio-economic status (income, education and employment) of families and the States have the local level data on educational achievement.

Will the States be involved in EPZs?

Yes, we want the States to be our partners in this. They have a great deal of information about the needs of schools and the performance of students.

We will be asking them for two things. Firstly, their active co-operation in making this information, and their best principals and teachers, available to help draw up and implement each zone's plan. Secondly, we will be asking the States, as well as local businesses and local government, to join the Commonwealth in investing in these regions.

What if the States withdraw their funding from these areas?

It will be an essential precondition that all participating States agree to maintain the existing effort in education both in the zones and across the State.

How will the local community organise to provide input?

After a zone is selected, a local panel will be appointed to draw up the EPZ plan and, after local consultation, submit it to the Commonwealth Government for approval.

How many zones will there be?

There will be several dozen right across the country.

How big will each of the zones be?

As far as EPZ's go one size does not fit all. Some in remote areas may cover a few schools over a large geographic area, others in urban areas may cover more than a dozen schools.

Is this only an initiative for Government schools?

No. This initiative is about assisting disadvantaged communities, including needy private schools in a community. However, given the number of government schools in disadvantaged areas they will be the prime beneficiaries.

(*) What is a community mentor program?

One option for a community mentoring program is as follows.

Year 10 students are surveyed twice a year about their intentions at the end of year. Those who don't know or intend to leave school are teamed with mentors.

Mentors are volunteers who have been trained at TAFE and received necessary clearances for working with school students.

The mentors work one-on-one with students, firstly learning about the students' interests, then helping them get information about the type of work which interests them and what is required to get into that field. This can involve talking to employers, TAFEs, Group Training, etc. Mentors can often use their own contacts in this regard.

In existing programs of this type 80% of mentor program students decide to stay at school beyond year 10. Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.