Sunday, December 02, 2007

Education A Learning Curve for Labor

As Julia Gillard prepares Labor's Education agenda for the two Cabinet meetings before Christmas, she should pause and consider some of the concepts proposed.

Access to a computer at school for every Year 9 -12 student is readily achievable, but it will also need to be considered in conjunction with the broadband for schools policy. The Federal Government will need to meet with state governments, Catholic Education Offices, and independent schools to ensure that computers provided are appropriate.

The trades in schools policy requires much more work, and probably needs rethinking. This is especially true for regional areas where it is unlikely that each school would have sufficient interested and committed students or resources to create classes in multiple trades areas.

A more practical solution might be to provide incentives for schools to allow students to enrol in courses at TAFE, where that is available. In most states, there is a program which allows students to study TAFE courses as part of their Yr 11 and Yr 12 studies. Classes often include students from several schools, and they gain from the expertise of TAFE teachers, and from the usually, better resources provided by TAFE . Delivery by TAFE would be more cost-efficient, and provide a wider range of trades for study than could be provided by placing one trade class at every school.

While providing resources directly to schools is electorally and superficially popular, ultimately, using existing TAFE systems would provide better outcomes for the economy as well, because more students could be trained in more trades areas more efficiently, using qualified trades teachers who know their industry.