Bendigo teachers urge reform 

LOCAL teachers have demanded the state government adopt education reforms during a protest outside a local politician’s office. 

About 20 teachers attended an Australian Education Union meeting at the front of Member for Northern Victoria Damian Drum’s office yesterday. 

They called on the state government to adopt the federal government’s Gonski reforms, which would create smaller class sizes, extra specialist teachers, additional teacher training and support and more disability support. 

AEU Victoria deputy president Justin Mullaly said the reforms, which require significant funding, were vital. 

“Today is about putting pressure on Premier Denis Napthine,” Mr Mullaly said. 

“Damian Drum represents public school communities right across central Victoria, and it’s critical he tells the premier to sign up to Gonski. 

“The Gonski recommendations are absolutely clear – that our schools need additional resources to meet the needs of students to ensure every student has access to a high-quality education and one that’s based on the needs of students.”

White Hills Primary School principal Damien Jenkyn said the Australian education system was losing ground to other countries. 

“With White Hills Primary School, the Gonski Review really did show that unless we change the funding model to schools, we’re going to slip further and further behind other counties with our education system,” he said. 

“If we’ve got a commitment of state and federal governments to the Gonski Review, we’ll be able to have more specialist teachers in the areas of literacy and mathematics, we’ll also be able to provide additional support to those students who most need it.”

But Mr Drum was critical of the protest. “I think it’s a little bit disingenuous when you don’t even contact me, simply set up a protest out the front, get a couple of media grabs, and then disappear,” he said. 

“I would have preferred to have had the opportunity to meet with them and then if they were unhappy with my responses, then they’d be fully entitled to conduct a protest in front of my office. 

“I think it’s just plain Labor Party politics.”

Mr Drum said the principles of Gonski were “admirable”, but that a recent meeting of all education ministers showed the federal government plans lacked detail. 

“South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT agreed to sign up to the proposal put to them by the Gillard government,” he said. 

“Every other state and territory has said they simply need more detail. 

“The detail was absolutely missing as to how it was going to be funded and how the outcomes were going to be achieved.”

Mr Mullaly said the state government needed to sign up to the Gonski package before the Council of Australian Governments meeting next Friday.

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