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School of Future Here

Herald Sun, September 30, 2005

Shannon McRae

Internet learning from home, staggered starts to the school day and retirees as guest teachers are part of the Bracks Government’s radical vision for education.

The days of one teacher fronting a class of 20 pupils could be numbered could be numbered, Education Minister Lynne Kosky warned yesterday.

She was speaking at the launch of Schools 2020, a study that will focus on modernizing the education system.

“We’re looking at what schools will look like in the year 2020, what we would like them to look like and what we need to do to get them there,” Ms. Kosky said.

She said the internet would become an even bigger classroom tool in the next decade.

“In the senior classes we could have students accessing their classrooms via the internet from home rather than actually attending.” She said.

“How students learn in the year 2020 will be different to how they learn now. We need to make changes so that students stay in education.”

Starting the school day in two shifts – early morning and afternoon – would space problems in many schools, Ms. Kosky said.

Skilled members of the community could contribute to schools in a tutor-mentor role.

“We’ve got an ageing workforce – we’re looking at how we might get people to provide teaching skills,” Ms. Kosky said.

“In the future there might be teachers who teach but also do other jobs, and we could use some tutors who might not be at that expert teaching level, providing back-up for teachers.”

The future-of-education study was announced just a day after Victoria’s primary school curriculum was branded one of the worst in the country.

The Federal Government report compared the states on English, math, science, ranking Victoria worst alongside Tasmania.

Australian Education Union Victorian President Mary Bluett yesterday welcomes the 2020 study predicting a huge overhaul in the way children are taught.

She said the rapid growth of technology and changing needs of families could spell the end of the traditional classroom. Recommendations from the nine-month study are expected next June.

Revive teaching of trades: Beazley

The Age Newspaper, September 30, 2005

David Wroe and Chee Chee Leung

Labor has floated sweeping education proposals that would let parents choose a state school for their children and force businesses to train more workers under a “mutual obligation” deal.

Admitting labor made a “big mistake” by neglecting trades when it was in government, leader Kim Beazley said schools needed upgrades to the “dusty and Dickensian workshops” that were turning young people off trades.

Under labor’s plan, state school zones enlarged, allowing students and their parents to pick the school would specialize in certain trades or subjects in years 10, 11 and 12 for students who wanted to pursue tailored courses.

Mr Beazley also put Australian businesses on notice, telling them under a Labor government they could not rely on importing skilled workers from overseas.

“We want to make sure companies fulfill their obligations to train Australians first. Businesses must not rely too much on skilled migration. The government should work with businesses to help train young people,” he told the Australia and New Zealand School of Government education conference in Sydney.

“I want to be clear about this – there is a mutual obligation here.”

On the schools plan, Mr Beazley hinted he would hinted he would force state goverments to co-operate through the $2 billion in direct funding the Commonwealth gives the states for public schools.

And he urged greater flexibility, so that students could do the final years of their school certificate at TAFE along with their vocational course, while maths and science schools could be established alongside university campuses.

“We need to train fewer lawyers but more tradespeople,” he said. “We need to train fewer merchant bankers but more engineers. We need to train fewer financial advisers but more apprentices. We need to train fewer advertising executives but more nurses.”

State Education Minister Lynne Kosky said Victorian schools could become more like universities, with classes in lecture theatres, smaller tutorials and summer schools.

Ms. Kosky said her Schools In: 2020 project -  which the Education Department is due to begin drafting soon with help from a private consultant – would consider “the big picture” for education and schooling,

Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson said instead of “waffling, whingeing and whinning” Mr Beazley should persuade unions and Labor governments to accept changes to the award system to allow school-based new apprentices.

“Mr Beazley” could also persuade the Labor states and territories to deliver more places for bricklaying, rather than belly dancing,” Dr. nelson said.

In the year to March 31, about 74,000 people took up trades and related occupations, 12 per cent up on the previous year.

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