The Liberal Government’s headline initiative to improve student outcomes in the crucial final years of schooling is failing to live up to its promise, with attendance figures at alarming levels for the first term of 2022.
New government data shows the extension school plan to deliver Year 11 and 12 to all Tasmanian public high schools – designed and implemented by former Education Minister and now Premier Jeremy Rockiff from 2014 – resulted in attendance levels as low as 29 per cent across the 60 Tasmanian public high schools offering extension.
Only 11 of those schools recorded attendance rates of above 80 per cent, several others had rates of 50 per cent or below and 17 recorded no results at all because they had less than five students enrolled.
This data follows poor attendance data in previous years, with some schools recording attendance as low as 21 per cent.
This was the Liberal Government’s flagship program, intended in Mr Rockliff’s own words to “improve educational outcomes and break the cycle of disadvantage by providing young Tasmanians access to education no matter where they live.”
With extension school operating expenditure of $28.6 million budgeted for 2022 and with many students failing to show up, the Liberal Government will not meet its own target of 75 per cent of Tasmanian students achieving a TCE by 2022 or deliver on a promise to lift the state’s education outcomes, which remain the worst of any state in the nation.
Mr Rockliff will claim small improvements in student retention, however this data shows that while students might be enrolled, they are failing to show up.
The Rockliff-Ferguson Government has been a pains to blame the COVID pandemic for poor attendance but this issue was a problem long before the border reopened and with schools fully operational again, there is no hiding the fact that these new figures show a system that is badly underperforming.
The Rockliff-Ferguson Government’s mismanagement of the education system has social and economic consequences for all Tasmanians.
Josh Willie MLC
Shadow Education Minister