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Equity Funding Changing The Lives Of Bendigo Students

09 February 2020

A massive funding boost to support the schools that need it most in Bendigo is reaping strong results.

Minister for Education James Merlino and Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards visited Specimen Hill Primary School in Bendigo today to see first-hand how equity funding has made a real difference for staff and students.

In 2015, the Andrews Labor Government announced a huge increase to “equity funding” - which took effect from the start of 2016. It provides extra resources and expertise to get the best out of students who need more support.

The $566 million increase over four years is designed to break the cycle of disadvantage and stop students disengaging from school and giving up on their studies.

More than 2,800 staff have been added to Victorian government schools following the funding boost, including 1,600 teachers and 1,200 support staff like speech pathologists, literacy and numeracy coaches and social workers.

Evidence shows that this funding is improving the lives of students across Victoria. Schools are introducing programs to help students catch up in literacy and numeracy and offering electives such as coding and music to keep kids engaged in school.

Other schools have introduced play therapists to help students who have experienced trauma, or instituted programs to give students an insight into the career pathways open to them.

The funding boost has had a massive impact in Bendigo. Specimen Hill Primary School has employed a literacy teacher for its Explore program. One of the grade three students Jack missed a lot of schooling and was unable to read.

Jack said: “I really wanted to read like the other kids.” After 18 months of one-on-one sessions tailored to his needs he can read the newspaper - his favourite part is the sports section - and keep up with his classmates.

Research shows a direct and unacceptable link between disadvantage and low levels of school achievement, with some students facing greater barriers to success from day one at school.

The Labor Government is levelling the playing field, putting education funding where it is needed most and adding valuable teachers and support staff to government schools across Victoria.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino

“We want every child in every school to have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. A child’s school results should not be restricted by their background.”

“This funding is transforming the lives of children across Victoria and boosting the numbers of teachers and support staff; it’s making a real difference.”

Quote attributable to Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan

“Our funding boost to help students who need it most is wonderful news for Bendigo. Weddeburn College, Weeroona College and Bendigo Violet Street Primary are also benefiting from this investment in our kids’ futures.”

Quote attributable to Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards

“This funding boost means children like Jack get tailored support they need to keep up with their classmates. It’s about giving local schools like Specimen Hill the resources they need to give our kids the best education.”

Background: Equity Funding Making a Difference in Bendigo

Equity funding is helping students across the Bendigo region.

At Specimen Hill Primary School equity funding has supported the Passions and Pathways program for year six students. Students visit a business of their choice once a week during Term three and then work on a project based on the business. Many of the students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and the program is showing them possible career pathways for them to pursue.

Equity funding has also supported an Explore program providing one-on-one teaching for reading and writing and a speech pathologist one day a fortnight. Two extra Education Support staff also work with disadvantaged students and engage them through activities such as cooking and gardening.

At Wedderburn College, north-west of Bendigo, equity funding has been used to establish a playgroup which is aimed at getting families involved in the school community. It also improves the language skills of young children and provides the school with insights into the learning needs of future students. A numeracy coach has been employed to work with maths teachers and a new staff member is helping teachers improve literacy and numeracy in years seven and eight by increasing the ratio of teachers to students.

At Weeroona College Bendigo, a year seven to 10 school, equity funding is being used to establish the Weeroona Alternative Timetable program to support students and improve school engagement. Students in the program do lots of hands on work, including developing a market garden and repairing some small engines.

Early results show these students are attending school more regularly and are more engaged in their learning. Funding has also been used for literacy and numeracy support across the College and for teacher capacity building – including employing a new leading teacher who is improving the standard of teaching. Funding has also gone towards the establishment of a Flexible Learning Options campus, supporting the most disengaged secondary students from across Bendigo.

At Bendigo Violet Street Primary, equity funding has been used to employ additional staff to support students who need an extra helping hand across a range of classroom programmes. It has also been used to employ an additional speech pathologist one day per week. The pathologist screens all Prep students and then works with teachers and students to ensure language issues are identified and remedied.
How Equity Funding is calculated

There are two funding initiatives associated with equity funding:

  • Social disadvantage funding; and
  • Catch up funding.

Social Disadvantage funding incorporates both individual factors of disadvantage and the concentration of disadvantage in the school. This will be measured by parental education in addition to parental occupation - this combination is a more accurate predictor of social disadvantage.

Catch up funding targets students entering secondary schools who have not met the national NAPLAN minimum standard for reading in Year five regardless of the student’s personal background or the school they attend. This figure is $2,000 per child.

Reviewed 26 June 2020

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