My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Education, and the action I seek is that the minister visit Shepparton to meet with concerned community representatives who seek government assistance in finding solutions for the current situation in our four senior secondary colleges in Shepparton and Mooroopna.
Looking at the NAPLAN results just released for the four state secondary colleges in Shepparton and Mooroopna, each of these schools is performing substantially below the national average in both reading and numeracy. This is not what we want for our children. Parents are leaving state secondary education in the Shepparton district on a continuing basis, and in the meantime our private schools are bursting at the seams. We must return some pride to our public school system. Enrolments at Mooroopna Secondary College have fallen from 772 in 2008 to just 374 last year. McGuire College enrolments have fallen from 735 in 2008 to 490 in 2016. The enrolments at Shepparton High School have fallen from 904 in 2008 to 670 in 2016, and they are continuing to fall.
In the grievance debate in this Parliament on 23 March 2016 I spoke of the disparity in educational outcomes between students in metropolitan and regional areas. The Auditor-General’s report of April 2014 entitled Access to Education for Rural Students confirmed what many of us have known for a very long time, and that is that rural populations in Victoria suffer from a disproportionate level of disadvantage. It further found that students from rural Victoria represent about 30 per cent of the total school student population but far fewer of them go on to attend university or even study at a certificate IV level or above, as do so many in metropolitan areas. The advantages are significantly different. The Auditor-General’s report also found that rural students are behind their metropolitan peers on academic achievement, attendance, senior secondary school completion and connectedness to their school.
These figures certainly represent the outcomes for our secondary students in the state education system in Shepparton and Mooroopna. It has been the case for a number of years, and the principals of those schools have, with some assistance, formed the Better Together Alliance in an attempt to address many of these issues as well as wider curriculum issues. They have set up a coordinated timetable and taken on a much more cooperative role between themselves, but this alone will not solve the problems that exist in our secondary education system.
In Shepparton I am confident that our community is ready for change. We are aware of the statistics at our schools. We want better outcomes for our children. We already have 300 local residents volunteering through our local Lighthouse Project. They are going into the schools to read to prep-grade students, acting as mentors to year 7s and participating in other reading programs throughout the system. Some assistance must now come from the government to help us address what has been a progressive decline in education in Shepparton.