Labor candidate Lodwick talks education

By Myles Peterson

Labor candidate for Nicholls Bill Lodwick has labelled Shepparton’s planned super school as ‘‘old-fashioned’’.

‘‘Amalgamation is almost an old-fashioned way of doing things,’’ he said.

With the major party’s Easter moratorium on election campaigning coming to a close yesterday, Mr Lodwick was keen to discuss education policy.

‘‘The education policy of the Labor party doesn’t really change from year to year — it’s a top priority, it’s a major portfolio and it’s going to be fully funded,’’ he said.

While discussing Labor’s key education policy initiatives, Mr Lodwick acknowledged the super school issue, but said while federal candidates and politicians could comment, they were not in a position to assist.

The Victorian Government has key responsibility for driving the Shepparton Education Plan, dubbed a ‘‘super school’’ because of the plan’s objective to amalgamate four high schools into a single campus.

The first phase of the plan takes effect next year with the key position of principal for the new institution already filled.

‘‘I understand why it would be causing anguish. Unfortunately, it’s not something that the Federal Government can influence,’’ Mr Lodwick said.

If Labor wins government, Mr Lodwick said it would target ‘‘rebalancing’’ federal funding to primary and secondary schools, channelling more money to public schools at the cost of the private sector in line with the original Gonski model.

‘‘The Gonski initiative was short-circuited by the (Liberals) and (Nationals) after the (federal) Labor government lost office (in 2013). There’s a lot of money that doesn’t seem to be distributed fairly,’’ he said.

‘‘The private schools manage to get private money and federal money.’’

Mr Lodwick said federal Labor would provide an extra $14billion for public schools, including $25million for Nicholls across the next three years.

‘‘This funding will give schools the resources they need to help students master the basics such as reading, writing, maths and science and offer a broader range of subjects including languages, coding, the arts, and vocational education,’’ he said.

‘‘Our extra investment will transform public schools across Australia and give all children the opportunity to reach their full potential, no matter where they live, or how much their parents earn.’’

Other touted Labor education initiatives include $300million to support students with disabilities, the establishment of a National Principals’ Academy to offer training and support for school principals and bursaries of up to $40000 each for elite student teachers.

‘‘Year 12 students with exceptional marks and people with outstanding achievement at university or in the workforce will compete for up to a thousand of the cash bonuses each year,’’ Mr Lodwick said.

‘‘If you were dux of your school, won a university medal or are at the top of your profession, we want you to consider a teaching degree. The tax-free bursaries of $10000 per annum will be paid to recipients for the duration of a teaching degree, up to a maximum of four years.

‘‘It’s a big commitment to becoming a teacher and it’s good to become a very good teacher and that’s what Labor is trying to support.’’