Commitment to tech school

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The Labor Party will not say how much it will spend upgrading government schools struggling to maintain outdated buildings, but has committed to build a $10 million Gippsland-based technical school.

During a visit of Kurnai College’s Morwell campus on Monday, opposition leader Daniel Andrews said the technical school would be a new model of education, where students would spend some of their time at their secondary school and a dedicated amount of time at a regional technical school.

The school is part of the opposition’s $125 million technical school pledge with 10 centres across the state to be used by local schools, with programs that mix input from universities, TAFEs and industry.

Mr Andrews said the new school would be built on a stand-alone site and used by all secondary colleges in the region.

“If we leave it to individual schools to provide a sort of comprehensive technical and academic education, than that’s putting too much pressure on individual schools,” Mr Andrews said

“Of course we need to support our schools better, but we think pooling our resources and the scale that you can get is a new way of thinking.”

However, Mr Andrews would not commit funding to assist some of Kurnai College’s dilapidated buildings.

“We do I think, have to sit down and work out a way that we can I guess perhaps give this school some better buildings, better if you like physical surroundings, but no-one should ever question the quality of the work that’s being done here and it’s a great example,” he said.

Kurnai College school council community member Heather Farley said she appreciated Mr Andrew’s words about the school, but Morwell was a disadvantaged community and needed much stronger core funding to support students and families.

Ms Farley said the school had been in a rundown state for some time and was due for maintenance and a whole redevelopment.

“It seems to have fallen off somehow and we don’t know why and don’t think it’s fair,” she said.

“We really want to see this school regenerated so students can come here and have that sense of pride and see that the place is loved, and they’re valued and their education is important.

“We’ve had to close classrooms and we’re waiting to have areas redeveloped, but it’s taking a long time.”

Kurnai College principal Anthony Rodaughan said the technical school seemed like an innovative idea, and every school could not provide all the technological equipment they would like.

“The idea of these ramped up centres, where kids can get high-powered technological training is a great idea, especially in a place like the Latrobe Valley that has such a strong technology background and tradition,” Mr Rodaughan said.