Principal says country kids need more help

A BENDIGO principal has spoken out about the Victorian Auditor-General's report that rural students are under performing compared to their city counterparts.

Bendigo Senior Secondary College principal Dale Pearce said yesterday that he wasn't surprised by the findings and said the state government needed to create a rural education policy.

"I think the data across the state has shown for many years now that rural and regional children don't perform as well as students form Melbourne," he said.

"It has something to do with family expectations, access to higher education, a lack of targeted policy and a lack of resources for regional education."

Mr Pearce said the education department needed to work with universities to encourage students from rural areas to further their higher education.

He said they needed to be informed about university  in the early years of high school, not in years 11 and 12 as was current practice.

"By the time students get to years 11 and 12 their paths are often already set," he said.

"Higher education never registers as an option for them so they never aspire to it."

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said the report was "extremely disturbing".

She said the government's cuts to the education budget were to blame for the results as well as the the government's lack of support for regional areas.

"I think this has a lot to do with supporting regional and rural communities more broadly," she said.

"It's impossible for these communities to progress ... when the government continually withdraws the services they rely on."

Education Minister Martin Dixon said the government had been working hard to improve outcomes for regional students.

“There is more work that still needs to be done and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is developing a new rural and regional education plan to improve educational outcomes in regional communities," he said.

“The department has accepted all of the report’s five recommendations.” 

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