Gippsland students falling behind

A STATE-wide education audit has shed light on poor outcomes for rural students in comparison to their city counterparts.

The study, undertaken by the auditor-general, showed a decrease in rates of rural students completing year 12.

It also showed while the amount of rural students enrolled in government-subsidised vocational education and training had increased between 2008 and 2012, the increase was far lower than metropolitan enrolments, which had doubled in that time.

Local Learning and Employment Network chief executive Mick Murphy said TAFEs in the Gippsland area were doing the best they could with funding available, but funding cuts and less entry level courses had made it harder for early school leavers to make their way into adult education.

The report concluded in comparison to metropolitan government school students, rural government students were considerably less likely to complete school and performed lower on National Assessment Program-Literacy and Numeracy tests.

They were also more likely to begin an apprenticeship, traineeship or to be working, but were less likely to be studying a bachelor degree in the year after they left school.

Mr Murphy drew on decreased access to hospitality certificates as an example of entry level training which has impacted on early school leavers making their way into the vocational education system.

“Hospitality training at early certificate levels has been a really good starting point for training and learning the past,” Mr Murphy said.

“It’s been very successful in terms of employment or other training outcomes, but not always necessarily long-term careers.

“Particularly where you’ve got a circumstance where training and education or success in those fields hasn’t been a high priority for people – when you make it hard to get at they really have to be well and truly convinced to take up that training.”

While the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development are developing a new Rural and Regional Plan to improve education outcomes, the report concluded the plan was not running to schedule and there was no certainty it would make a difference.