Curriculum plan a good move but more still to be done  

THE state government’s announcement of new approaches to curriculum, teaching and assessment in Victorian schools, including a code of conduct for unruly parents, might hit the mark with the majority of mums and dads but it is unlikely to divert the focus regarding other education policies.

Education Minister Martin Dixon yesterday announced that, in the future, schools would have more flexibility when it comes to delivering subjects outside the core curriculum.

He also wants to implement what amounts to a code of behaviour for parents in schooltime interactions.

“A code is only there in extreme circumstances when a situation occurs or when a certain family are causing perennial problems to the school. That’s where a code may be useful. But on a growing number of occasions quite abusive parents are an everyday norm for these principals. We need to send a very strong message that schools are safe places and are places of respect.”

Not a truer word has been spoken. The ability of teachers to do their jobs without fear of verbal or physical retribution hasn’t been taken seriously enough in the past. Providing more flexibility over curriculum will enhance the student experience.

The state government should be commended on these points.

Yet, it is on the education front where so many Victorians remain concerned about the Baillieu government’s policies.

The restructure of the TAFE sector, which has seen dozens of courses and opportunities cut and the reluctance to come good on Mr Baillieu’s promise to make Victoria’s teachers the best paid in Australia have contributed to anti-government sentiment, particularly in regional areas such as Ballarat.

The facts remain that, while both actions were deemed necessary, and are not without logical basis, the impact has been widespread and severe. In regard to the continuing negotiations over pay, schools are continuing to be impacted by strike action. TAFE students have fewer options than before.

The government would have hoped that yesterday’s announcement would cut-through  what has been a difficult policy front. The problem is that Victorians are yet to be convinced.

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