Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — My question is for the Minister for Education. My constituent, a primary school teacher from Melbourne’s inner north, has contacted me to follow up on an issue raised in an Age article back in May 2016 titled ‘White flight: race segregation in Melbourne state schools’. That article reported on unofficial racial segregation that was occurring in schools proximate to the commission flats. My constituent pointed to a 2015 report by the Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis which confirmed that racial segregation in schools and its relationship with poverty was the most significant cause of education achievement gaps. He said nothing has changed since the Age report and asked, ‘What is the government doing to curb racial segregation in our state schools?’.
As part of the Education State reforms, there is a strong focus on supporting and empowering all young people who experience disadvantage and face social, community and economic barriers. Providing safe and respectful school environments, building resilience, responding to student health and wellbeing and ensuring students are engaged with school and their learning is critical.
The Stanford Centre for Education Policy Analysis Report School Segregation and Racial Academic Achievement Gaps highlighted that reducing racial and socio-economic segregation may lead to meaningful reductions in achievement gaps. The evidence-based Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) helps schools to focus their efforts on key areas that are known to have the greatest impact on school improvement and student outcomes. Community Engagement in Learning and a Positive Climate for Learning are two of the four key state-wide priorities of the FISO Improvement Model because the Government recognises that student health and wellbeing, pride and confidence in our schools, parent and community engagement, and inclusion are critical to achieve improved student outcomes.
The Education State is investing record funding to ensure every Victorian can access a quality education. The Education State theme of ‘Breaking the Link’ is the Andrews Labor Government’s commitment to ensuring Victoria’s most disadvantaged students and young people remain in the education and training system.
The Education State funding boost means schools are providing additional programs and resources to meet the needs of disadvantaged students. Over four years, key initiatives that will support the achievement of this target include:
– $566 million for all Victorian government schools to receive equity funding to reduce the impact of disadvantage on student outcomes
– $148.3 million for the Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund to ensure all Victorian students can take part in school trips and sporting activities
– $15.6 million to sponsor State Schools’ Relief to support and expand its uniform program
– $13.7 million for 500 Victorian schools to run School Breakfast Clubs in partnership with Foodbank Victoria.
Under Department of Education and Training guidelines, schools also have an obligation to support families who are experiencing financial hardship by offering payment plans if desired, and providing items such as stationery, class texts and laptops for use within the school environment so that no child is disadvantaged in their learning.
The Department will continue to work with government schools to ensure all students and families feel welcome in their local neighbourhood school by developing local projects and initiatives that help us maintain the values that we take such pride in.