Education Policy

PREAMBLE

This state education policy should be read in conjunction with the Australian Greens federal education policy. As university funding is a federal responsibility, the section on universities in this policy only relates to the administrative responsibility of the state government for Victorian universities.

PRINCIPLES

1. Education is a public good and is an essential investment in Australia's economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, personal and community well-being and social fulfilment.

2. Public education should be free, secular, well-funded, and high quality, and life-long public education and training should be available to all.

3. Differences in educational outcomes should not be the result of differences in wealth, income, power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexuality, disability, or geographic location.

4. The state government has a primary responsibility to fund all levels of the public education system, with the exception of universities, and should prioritise early childhood education, schools, vocational education and training, and adult, community and further education, at levels commensurate with international best practice.

5. Early childhood education is an essential component of learning and should be free and culturally appropriate.

6. Decision making in education should be open to input from teachers, academics, parents and students through their representative bodies such as unions, councils and professional associations.

7. The salaries and conditions of school and TAFE teachers, educational support staff in schools, early childhood educators and other educators should be set at a level that:

  • a. recognises their professionalism, training and the importance of their work;
  • b. provides secure career structures; and
  • c. encourages committed and capable people from across the community into the teaching profession at all levels of the education system.

8. The educational opportunities and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be equal to the rest of the Victorian population.

9. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities should be able to contribute the design and delivery of educational services for their children and other community members.

10. A publicly owned and controlled and properly funded TAFE system is essential to economic prosperity and a socially just society, and should offer low cost, lifelong learning and skills development. Vocational education and training (VET) should be primarily provided through the public TAFE system while the community and not-for-profit VET sector should also be supported.

11. Education unions and subject and professional associations are the appropriate representatives of educators in all educational matters.

12. Competition between schools and other educational institutions based on narrow measures of performance is not an effective way to improve Australia's education outcomes. Educational effectiveness should be assessed on properly validated measures.

13. Public education infrastructure and land should remain in public ownership and control.

AIMS

General Aims

1. A public early childhood, school, vocational training, adult community and further education and university system that is recognised as among the best in the world.

2. The phasing out fees and charges from public early childhood, school and TAFE education.

3. Internationally competitive conditions for school and TAFE staff.

4. Education funding across all government education sectors that:

  • a. does not include or promote competition, privatisation, outsourcing, and other market based mechanisms; and
  • b. rejects the use of funding vouchers for schools and competitive tendering and entitlement-based funding for TAFE, noting that such mechanisms undermine standards and integrity and do not further the complex policy objectives of our education system.

5. Repeal Part 2.7 of the Education Training Reform Act which guarantees that non-government schools will receive 25% of recurrent funding provided to government schools.

6. Strong and accountable governance networks arrangements within each education region to develop an organised and integrated public education system.

7. Increased support services to address barriers to education and for vulnerable students, including education reengagement programs for children, young people and adults.

8. Refugees to be exempt from paying university and TAFE fees.

9. All students, including international students, to travel free on public transport.

Early Childhood Education

10. Public early childhood education to be provided by government and accredited community organisations and not-for-profit providers.

11. Increased funding for early childhood education to eliminate waiting lists.

12. Two years free preschool education to all three and four year old children, delivered by registered, fully qualified educators.

13. Increase the level of Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) that is provided and managed by schools, and increase support for schools to undertake this role.

14. Culturally appropriate programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to support their participation in early childhood education and care services.

15. Increase investment in research on the social and educational outcomes of innovative approaches and play-based learning in a Victorian context.

16. Increase investment in research and delivery of educational programs for the most vulnerable children.

17. Incentivise provision of education and best practice in sustainability and waste reduction in kindergartens and childcare centres.

18. Improve public awareness and understanding of early childhood education as a public good and an important component of children’s development, not just a service enabling parents to return to work.

Schools

19. Funding to schools to be provided on the basis of equity, the needs of students and at a level to cover all core educational programs.

20. Eliminate all ‘voluntary’ fees for 'non-core' activities charged by public schools through increased funding that is sufficient to ensure that all students can afford to participate in the full range of extracurricular activities including but not limited to camps, excursions and instrumental music.

21. A new Independent School Resourcing body to:

  • a. determine eligibility for public funding;
  • b. the per student 'SRS funding' level and 'loadings' for schools and students that need more support to educate students to a high level;
  • c. ensure the allocation of funding by State and Federal governments is based on evidence of needs rather than political considerations; and
  • d. ensure the contributions of State and Federal government to funding schools are made on a transparent basis taking which addresses the resourcing inequities between the public and non-government sectors, taking into account total resourcing and assets, not just government funding.

22. Staffing to ensure that children with particular additional needs, in schools in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas, and schools with a high proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children of non-English-speaking background, are provided with a comprehensive education.

23. An increase in specialist teachers and support services for students and pre-school children with particular additional needs, including those with a disability or a learning difficulty.

24. Increased support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

25. Increased support for students from non-English speaking backgrounds.

26. Provide more support for early intervention for students with literacy and numeracy difficulties, including more trained specialist staff using evidenced-based techniques.

27. Provide professional development and training in AUSLAN and Braille training for staff in all schools through professional development as required.

28. Recognising that the substantial growth in federal and state government funding to non-government schools has had an adverse impact on public education, any funding to non-government schools must:

  • a. to take into account the resources of each individual school, a direct measure of parental socio-economic status, and the school's capacity to generate income from all sources, including fees and other contributions; and
  • b. should only be allocated to schools that fall under the given per student SRS level of funding. Schools which already possess sufficient resources to be above this level should not be provided with further funding.

29. Governments to have proper oversight of and overall responsibility for public school finances and staffing to ensure that:

  • a. schools are fully accountable for the expenditure of public funds;
  • b. government is held accountable for funding constraints rather than individual schools;
  • c. a system-wide transfer system that rewards teachers who are prepared to teach in more challenging environments is supported;
  • d. negative competition between schools that results in the entrenchment of school disadvantage in some geographic locations is eliminated; and
  • e. privatisation of key aspects of our public schools is prevented.

30. Expulsion of students should only be a last resort and the government should have close oversight of and provide appropriate support for students who have been expelled or are struggling in individual schools.

31. Current exceptions in the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010 that allow religious schools to discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, lawful sexual activity, marital status, parental status or gender identity to be repealed.

32. The same accountability and transparency frameworks for public funding to be required of non-government schools as are required of government schools, including:

  • a. non-discrimination in the hiring of staff on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation;
  • b. non-discrimination in the selection of students on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation;
  • c. an obligation to enrol and to expel only as a last resort and to find expelled students another school;
  • d. provision of all information necessary to calculate the income the school has the capacity to generate from fees and all other sources and fully transparent accounting for their use of public funds.

33. No government funding for schools that operate for private profit.

34. Public education infrastructure to be adequately funded for capital works and maintenance to create an optimal learning environment whilst meeting the highest environmental sustainability standards.

35. The criteria for the location of new schools and the allocation of funding for school upgrades and maintenance should be fully open and transparent. New or upgraded schools to be provided in population growth areas, and located on the basis of proximity to residential areas and public transport infrastructure. Existing smaller schools not be closed on the basis of narrow financial viability criteria.

36. Smaller class sizes throughout the public education system to achieve manageable workloads for all educators and the best educational outcomes for all students. Maximum class sizes and teaching loads to be based on evidence and set down in industrial agreements.

37. Rejection of performance based pay for school teachers and other educators and abolition of arbitrary caps on promotion. These practices cannot be fairly implemented, discriminate against disadvantaged schools and students, undermine the cooperative environment that is essential to achieving the best educational outcomes, and place downward pressure on overall pay and conditions.

38. Increased pay, professional recognition, improved pre-and-in service training and increased release time for both education and support staff for the development of, and participation in professional learning communities.

39. All school teachers to be properly qualified and provided with adequate support and mentoring during training and the first years of their careers. Fast-track teacher training programs to be abolished.

40. Address the over-use of casual positions in schools and TAFE institutes by introducing a benchmark of a minimum of 80 percent of teaching to be performed by permanent staff in schools and TAFE institutes. All public school teachers should be permanent employees of the education department.

41. All school councils should have student members with full voting rights, elected by the students.

42. Decisions about curriculum, testing, reporting and teaching to be made in consultation with appropriate educational experts, teachers, parents, students and other stakeholders.

43. Support for schools in the provision of high quality information to parents and the community and an end to the public ranking of schools in league tables.

44. Schools and curriculum material free from corporate sponsorship and influence including the use of material featuring sponsor identities or logos.

45. Government funding to support schools to provide experiential learning activities including excursions, outdoor education, regular activities in community settings and 'incursions' (i.e. visiting programs into a school where students are actively involved in a project such as growing a food or sensory garden) and curricula relevant to local people, places and communities that equip students to be active, questioning and creative citizens in all facets of life.

46. Inclusion of the history, culture and contemporary experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the school curriculum, and in the training and professional development of all teachers.

47. Increased resource allocation for the teaching of community languages in public primary and secondary schools, and well-resourced centres for the study of community languages and trade-specific English language courses.

48. All preschools, primary and secondary schools to provide age appropriate and accredited education in respectful relationships, including gender relations, gender identity and sexual orientation, family violence, sexual harassment, child sexual abuse and pornography.

49.  Each school should have at least one staff member who is qualified to meet the health and wellbeing needs of LGBTIQ staff and students.

50. Sufficient funding for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in public schools to allow:

  • a. full integration of up-to-date ICT, including open source software, into learning activities;
  • b. professional development for all school staff in how to facilitate the integration of the latest ICT into learning activities, and employment of specialist ICT staff where required;
  • c.  options for parents to purchase ICT equipment and free provision by schools of ICT equipment to students from low income families; and
  • d. schools to embrace up-to-date broadband infrastructure.

51. Support for parents to educate their children at home if they meet requirements to provide a balanced education, core educational outcomes and social interaction with peers.

52. VET to be free in all Victorian schools.

53. Restore funding for coordination of the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) in schools.

54. Where school communities decide to have a compulsory school uniform, these should be affordable and mechanisms should be put in place to provide uniforms to families who cannot afford them.

55. Reinstate the Youth Suicide Prevention Program in all schools.

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

56. Guarantee recurrent funding to ensure financial sustainability of the public Technical and Further Education (TAFE) sector to restore TAFE institutes as the primary provider of VET in Victoria, with full government funding for the community service obligations of TAFE and the provision of resources such as libraries and student services.

57. Establish an on-going program to upgrade and maintain TAFE facilities.

58. Stronger government oversight of private Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) with the same standards and reporting requirements for private RTOs and TAFEs.

59. The government to ensure that TAFEs in the dual sector (i.e., TAFEs embedded in universities) are not disadvantaged.

60. Educators in consultation with relevant industries, industry bodies and unions to have a key role in developing and reviewing training packages across all VET sectors.

61. VET and TAFE teachers to have a tertiary teaching qualification and industry experience and training.

62. Elected staff and student representative positions to be maintained on TAFE councils and at all other relevant levels of TAFE administration.

63. A substantial increase in the availability of apprenticeships, in rural and regional Australia and other locations where there is a shortage.

64. Repeal of the current requirement of the Victorian Training Guarantee to only provide a government subsidised TAFE place if the student is undertaking a higher qualification than they currently hold.

65. VET funding priorities to balance student needs, employment demand, and providing skills in satisfying and sustainable employment.

66. To phase out public funding of privately provided VET where TAFE can provide the same educational and training outcomes.

67. Industry transformation programs to be jointly industry and government funded.

Adult, Community and Further Education

68. Neighbourhood Learning houses and Learn Local Centres to be funded at a level that recognises their vital contribution to adult, community and further education by providing educational opportunities to some of the community's must marginalised members.

69. To ensure new migrants, asylum seekers and refugees can access appropriate publicly funded English language courses.

Universities

70. Elected staff and student representative positions to be maintained on university councils and at all other relevant levels of university administration.

71. Victorian Universities to be prohibited from investing funds in the fossil fuel, gambling and tobacco industries.

 

Education Policy as amended by State Council on 10th February 2018.