Panel established to bridge the divide between regional and metropolitan schools

The state government has this week ordered the establishment of an Expert Advisory Panel for Rural and Regional Students, to address the challenges faced by regional students and bridge the divide between regional and metropolitan schools.

Minister for Education James Merlino announced that the panel would examine why regional schools are falling behind those in metropolitan areas and make recommendations on what can be done to address the issue.

PHOTO: Jack Ward

“We are already doing a lot to boost results in regional and rural Victoria, but we now need to look at what more we can do and that is why this panel is so important,” Minister Merlino said.

National NAPLAN data shows that the performance of regional and rural schools is around 20 points or more behind that of metro schools.

The Panel will undertake consultation meetings with key stakeholders in Ballarat, Bendigo, Horsham, Mildura, Morwell, Wangaratta and Warrnambool across July and August to gauge the issues schools are facing.

Dr David Howes, chief executive of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority will chair the Panel alongside principals and education experts to make the findings and recommendations.

“This is about listening to local communities to understand what challenges are preventing regional and rural students from meeting their aspirations,” Dr Howes said.

The announcement came after the agreement of a new school funding deal which will see the Andrews Government provide an additional $7 billion to government schools over the five-year agreement term.