THE Tasmanian education system is likely to undergo an interesting time to say the least in 2012. The start of this school year will also be the last with three terms as the state moves in line with the rest of the country and adopts a four-term model in 2013.
And by the end of this month Education Minister Nick McKim is expected to receive the much-anticipated report from the School Viability Reference Group.
Which schools, if any, will close will be of interest to many communities and particularly to those 20 named on the government’s initial proposed hit-list in the June budget last year.
The state’s economy and the slashing of the department’s budget in 2011 will come more into play from the start of this year as programs, teacher aides and activities will be cut.
This is hurting both public and private schools and as revealed late last year it will result in about a $100 annual increase in Catholic school fees.
The focus for the government is getting the state back on track.
But at this time of upheaval it would be interesting to know what principals and teachers want to see happen in the education sector.
And what parents would like to see.
As other commentators have said there is no doubt that Tasmania has suffered economically due to the previous practice of allowing students to leave at the end of year 10 or age of 16 _ which ended in 2007.
The state’s split public high school (year 7 to 10) and college (year 11 and 12) system only exacerbated the problem as kids thought ”woo-hoo, I’m finished” and left after year 10, cutting themselves short.
Many more than not have suffered for it.
Year 10 formals and ”leavers’ dinners” to celebrate the occasion only cemented the feeling.
Thankfully students must now continue on with some form of education until they turn 17.
The reasoning behind holding a formal for year 10s beggars belief to someone who had to wait for that right until the end of year 12 interstate.
A trend taking off in Victoria at the end of last year was year 6 formals where 11 and 12-year-olds (or more correctly their parents) were spending $150-plus on dresses, then more money on hair and make-up, before partying the afternoon away in the back of a stretch Hummer.
There’s evidence of Tasmanian grade 6 students following the trend.In the department’s annual report it acknowledges Tasmania’s retention rates in post-compulsory education and training are lower than most other states and many OECD countries.
Despite a more than 10 per cent increase on the retention rate to 73 per cent in 2010 (the latest figures), Mr McKim is aiming for the state to meet a national target of 90 per cent of students to attain a year 12 education or its equivalent by 2015.
Overall public student attendance figures also increased slightly from 2009 to 2010.
One step in the right direction is the department’s implementation of the Retention and Attainment Strategy, which tracks year 10 students through to year 12 or its equivalent.
Students completing their education to a year 12 level today will better set up the state and economy of the future – something Tasmania desperately needs.
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