Parents Victoria was asked to provide comment to specific questions on Parent Engagement - Read the responses.
The lack of the additional Better Schools (Gonski) funding promised by the Federal Government to Victorian public schools has put prinicpals in the terrible position of having to cut programs which they can no longer afford. Once again, this hits hardest at those schools and communities who are already finding it difficult. The inequity of a system which means one school can run as many intervention and support programs as needed, have the latest technology, offer a large variety of VCE subjects, and offer training and support to its staff, while other schools cannot afford any of these, or even be in a position to financially support families in need with something as basic as free stationery, is intolerable and simply should not exist in today's Australia.
The Federal and State governments have a duty to fully fund the education of all children in public schools. The Better Schools funding was designed to go a long way towards meeting those costs. But the distribution of these additional funds has not been at all transparent. Most schools cannot identify how much, if any, additional money they have received. As reported this week in The Age, some schools have actually received less money than last year, even after taking into account student numbers.
Parents Victoria is pleased the Minister is investigating the distribution of the Better Schools funding, and calls on the State Government to ensure that every child receives a quality, fully funded, equitable education, no matter which school in Victoria they attend.
Parents Victoria believes a student's attendance at school is the highest priority (as agreed by the government) and so uniform should never be an inhibitor or barrier. With the ever increasing costs of schooling to families (school fees, transport, books, technology, excursions, subject costs, etc) there is no need for schools to add to this pressure by insisting on a specifically branded uniform.
School Councils have the right to set the school's uniform policy and should be aware of their communities and should consult with students and parents on what is a practical and affordable uniform policy. Why should parents be asked to pay upwards of $20 for a polo shirt with the school's logo on it when they can buy a plain polo from a retail store for $2.00. Surely a better option would be to offer iron-on logos if the school insists on a logo at all. In particular, the requirement to purchase a specific type of pant, puts untold financial pressure on families. Why do pants need to have logos? Restricting the purchase of uniform to that approved by the school also does not impact positively on students' body image. Being bigger or smaller than others means the clothes may not fit well.
Several public schools have recently moved away from the more 'casual' uniform of polo shirts to 'business' style shirts, often along with ties and/or blazers. Schools sometimes view this as their opportunity to appear like private schools. We don't believe that is a relevant or necessarily even a good aspiration for students. Parents Victoria believes schools would be better served to retain an affordable uniform and spare parents this unnecessary expense, allowing parents to put the money towards other educational necessities, or even family necessities. Having a strict uniform policy also requires strict enforcement. The time required to do this consistently and fairly is wasted and could be better used as teaching time. As per our policy below, we believe "No child should be barred from school activities, or punished, for being out of school uniform."
Parents Victoria Policy:
P.1 School Uniform
School Council has the right to decide, in conjunction with Parent Club and Student Representative Council, on the composition of a school uniform, and to encourage the wearing of it.
No child should be barred from school activities, or punished, for being out of school uniform
Parents Victoria made a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Development and Implementation of National School Funding Arrangements and School Reform in March 2014.
Parents Victoria expects our Federal Government to support a schools funding system which will deliver learning opportunities for every young Victorian and Australian. It is our strong belief that Victorian public schools must be well‐resourced and appropriately funded so that they can provide access to a free, high quality and secular education for all our students, irrespective of where they live or their family’s income. Supporting, valuing and funding such a system will benefit Australia’s economy and society now and well into the future.