Cuts bite into entire school system: union

GOVERNMENT funding cuts to the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning are impacting on all students, according to a union and local principal.

An Australian Education Union survey shows nearly 60 per cent of principals had to cut programs due to a reduced VCAL co-ordination budget.

Australian Education Union Victorian deputy president Justin Mullaly said $48 million had been cut from VCAL by the state government over four years.

“Schools are finding it increasingly hard to provide decent VCAL programs,” he said.

“Where they’re continuing to provide VCAL programs in the way that they have, it’s often come at the cost of other programs. I think it’s impacting every secondary school in the Loddon Mallee Region.  

“Every school has had to make decisions about what they’re not going to do, whether that’s the VCAL program or some other program the school would have provided.”

VCAL is a vocationally-based education program focused on hands-on learning.

Bendigo Senior Secondary College principal Dale Pearce said students from disadvantaged backgrounds who struggle with literacy and numeracy were often enrolled in VCAL.

“When you take out over $350,000 at our school over three years, that’s a significant amount of funding," he said. 

"It impacts the whole school. We’ve had to close up and make a lot of savings in other areas.”

Mr Pearce said the cuts had impacted class sizes, teacher workloads and support staff.

Education Minister Martin Dixon said the funding cuts related to VCAL co-ordination. 

"Funding for VCAL increases in line with enrolments, and enrolment numbers are at a record high,” he said.

"When the VCAL program was established in 2003, coordination funding was provided to assist with the establishment of the program.

"The changes to the funding arrangements purely relate to the coordination of the program and not the actual funding for program delivery." 

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