SUBJECTS: Coronavirus and schools, Year 12 students, Higher education
Jeremy Lee: Education ministers at state and federal levels were due to meet yesterday. Dan Tehan, Federal Education Minister and Member for Wannon, is with us this morning for an update on how things are shaping up for term two. Dan Tehan, good morning to you.
Dan Tehan: Morning, Jeremy. How are you?
Lee: Very well, thanks. You’ve got a pretty busy morning this morning, so thanks again for your time.
Lee: School holidays in Victoria are due to end after Easter, as I mentioned there, schools going back next Wednesday. So, what is the current state of play for students in Victoria?
Tehan: So, for all those students in Victoria, you will be getting a leaving certificate this year. You will get an ATAR for 2020. So, there will be no mass repeating. There will be no Year 13. You will get a certificate for this year, so that you can go to university, so that you can go on to vocational education, so you can go into the workforce, if you want to. And, all education ministers across the board were absolutely committed to that, for every state and territory. Now, every jurisdiction across the nation will put in place its own specific arrangements with regards to education in term two. The Victorian State Government made their announcements with regards to that yesterday, which will see the majority of learning undertaken at home, for those students who can be cared for at home. But, for those students who can’t be, they will be able to attend school. So, if parents need to work, if children can’t be supervised at home, then they can attend school, as normal, and will be looked after and educated at the school.
Lee: Now, obviously, that brings some relief, I imagine, for students who were nervous, wondering what would happen with those scores, and what arrangements would be in place for that. I guess there is still a bit of uncertainty around that, though, isn’t there? Because, we, at the moment, term two, we’re expecting, will be entirely conducted online. Beyond that, though, if we have to continue that into term three and even term four, well, that’s, that should still be practical and possible, do you think, to achieve those scores?
Tehan: Look, everyone is committed to that end. So, no matter what education looks like – and our hope is that it will get back to normality towards the end of the year – then an ATAR will be issued. Everyone is committed to make sure that COVID-19 might take a lot away from us, but it will not take away a year of education. And, we want to ensure that our Year 12s, in particular, get their ATAR for 2020, and are able then to go on, and whether it be to uni, whether it be into vocational education, TAFE, whether it be the employment market, that that’s what they’re able to do.
Lee: Alright. So, that’s pretty clear for government schools. For private schools, what’s your expectation about how they will approach this?
Tehan: Yes. So, the expectation is the same. We’re expecting for Catholic and Independent schools that they can come to arrangements where the majority of students in Victoria might undertake their study from home. But, where students cannot do that safely, where parents need to work, for vulnerable children, where they need that supervision, care and educating at school, that that will take place. So, schools will remain open for those children who need to be safely supervised at school.
Lee: So, what’s your advice to students at this point, I guess, with lessons due to start again in a week’s time, then? What should students be really doing right now to make sure that they’re ready to go?
Tehan: They need to be trying as they can to put everything that’s going on around them to one side, and focussing on their Year 12, or focussing on their studies for whatever year they’re in. There’s going to be a lot of disruption going on. But, if they can just remember the most important thing they can do is get the knowledge that they need for the year. Now, it will be a different way that it’s been given to them by teachers. But, remain focused, understand how important it is that you continue to get your education this year. We do not want this pandemic taking away our children’s education. And, that’s, and, so, we need our children to really be focussing on what’s important to them, learning, and, also, the rest of us need to, obviously, support all our students in that endeavour.
Lee: Alright. And, look, the state government have been pretty clear, as well, about providing laptops and dongles and those sorts of things for students who might not have either an adequate device, or an adequate connection, where they are. So, I guess the message is, also, to, what? Be in touch with your school, just to make sure that you’ve got what you need? Do you know, actually, how that’s going to work? Is that going to be run through schools, or how will students access those sorts of services, if they need that?
Tehan: Look, that’ll be a question for the Victorian State Government. I’m sure James Merlino will be making that clear through schools as to how those arrangements will work.
Lee: Yeah. Now, we’ve obviously talked a lot about high schools, because, I guess, that’s obviously a big concern as to how that’s going to play out. At other ends of the spectrum, then, what’s the primary school model, for example, what’s looking like, at this stage, for term two?
Tehan: So, the primary school model will look similar, as well. Obviously, it’s a little harder for primary school students. So, once again, we’re going to have to work with the schools, work with the teachers and the principals, to make sure that it works for our primary school students, as well. And, there’s some other innovative things which are happening with primary schools, as well. In some states and territories, arrangements have been made with the ABC, where they’re also going to be running learning programs, which help with the curriculum. So, this will very much be, we’re learning as we go along. But, ensuring that both primary and secondary school students, as best we can, can get the learning that they need for this year.
Lee: Alright. Now, a question came through, as well, about TAFE and, in particular, a student from Ballarat TAFE got in touch, who I think was saying to me that they really haven’t had much information about what their plan is for term two. Seems to be a bit of confusion there. What’s your expectation about how TAFEs will be handling this?
Tehan: So, TAFEs will be putting in their own arrangements, as well, and they’ll be working with the Victorian State Government in Victoria as to what those arrangements will look like. But, we are ensuring that when it comes to universities who have gone fully online, and for our vocational education providers, that they’re continuing to provide that learning for students as best they can. When it comes to vocational education, TAFE, that can be often harder with the practical side of things, but they are putting in place arrangements to be able to accommodate vocational education students.
Lee: Yeah. Where those practical things do have to take place, do you expect there will still be ways to make that happen?
Tehan: Look, they’re looking at ways to make that happen. It will depend, often, on the course. So, for instance, for those who might have been doing aged care, there will be some difficulties there of getting that first hand practical experience out in the workplace, as you could understand. But, there is no reason why other arrangements can’t be put in place. So, that’s all being worked through at the moment.
Lee: Alright. Well, Dan Tehan, we’ll leave it there. Thanks again for your time this morning, and we’ll catch up with you soon.
Tehan: Always a pleasure, Jeremy. Thanks a lot.
Lee: Thanks again. Dan Tehan, Member for Wannon and also Federal Education Minister.