Teachers `will make it work'

TEACHERS are warning the Liberal high school extension plan looks under-researched but will do their best to make it work.

Australian Eduction Union state president Terry Polglase said yesterday that the plan to spend $45 million over four years to extend years 11 and 12 to more high schools would probably become an open-ended funding need, as most of the money would be spent on staff.

But he said suggestions by Opposition education spokeswoman Michelle O'Byrne that the state's college system would suffer was premature, as the impact would not be known for at least two years.

Mr Polglase said the plan may boost school retention rates in outlying areas, as students now leaving school early could be drawn back in, and schools initially chosen would be the ones where the idea would work.

But Mr Polglase said school principals were not consulted before the plan was announced, so they may have had a better way to spend $45 million to boost retention rates, which everyone agrees is a problem.

"The question now is how adaptable and flexible the minister (Jeremy Rockliff) will be during the program," Mr Polglase said.

"We will work co-operatively to see it is achieved as best we can."

Mr Polglase said he expected a stakeholder group would meet soon and teachers were looking for Mr Rockliff's expectations, goals and pathway to achieving those goals.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch Australia chief economist Saul Eslake threw his weight behind the Liberal plan, and said he could not think of a better one.

However, Mr Eslake said that another key ingredient for success was parents supporting their children to stay at school post year 10, as "far too many" parents were not doing that now.

He said finishing school was one of the best ways students would improve their long-term prospects, and suggested the program could be funded by cost savings from school amalgamations.

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