Victorian Greens education spokesperson Sue Pennicuik MP said today that a new Auditor General report has found that the Department for Education and Training needs to improve its long-term planning for new schools and school maintenance.
“The report found that the ability of the Department to plan strategically and collaboratively for planning multi-use, shared or co-located facilities is limited by the annual funding allocation process and funding decisions taken by governments outside the planning process,” Ms Pennicuik said.
“The Greens want to see more transparency in the processes used by the Department to determine where new schools are needed to be built and the allocation of funds for school maintenance. This is the only way to avoid the pork barrelling that routinely occurs with relation to school funding.
“It is also concerning that the report has found that the Department does not test the accuracy of its enrolment forecasts and therefore does not know how reliable they are over time.
The Auditor General found the Department is ‘working towards’ strategic planning for schools to ‘manage assets’ but ‘the role of school councils and principals remains unclear’ and ‘weaknesses remain in how the Department holds schools accountable for managing assets’.
“This is concerning given the findings of IBAC in its 2016 report - Operation Ord, which raised concerns about the capacity of school councils and principals to fulfil asset and financial management roles,” Ms Pennicuik said.
The report also found that ‘school maintenance remains underfunded and as a result, schools will continue to postpone must needed repairs and struggle to maintain their assets’.
“It is unacceptable that year after year too many schools have been unable to carry out much needed, often basic maintenance, due to lack of funds. This impacts on the learning environment of students and teachers in schools every day.
“The Greens want to see more transparency in the processes used by the Department to determine where new schools are needed to be built and the allocation of funds for school maintenance. This is the only way to avoid the pork barrelling that routinely occurs with relation to school funding,” Ms Pennicuik said.
For further comment: Sue Pennicuik: 03 9530 8399