Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — On a number of occasions I, along with other members of the opposition, have spoken about the disastrous impacts of the Baillieu government’s damaging decision to cut Victorian certificate of applied learning (VCAL) funding for Victorian schools. In early April the front page of the Bellarine Times told yet another story of the damage the government has caused. On 3 April the Bellarine Times reported that Bellarine Secondary College had gone into deficit to avoid disadvantaging its VCAL students and that the principal, Murray Long, had said:
“It was very disappointing to hear last year that schools would have to find some way to ensure the least impact possible this year.”
Mr Long said that since the program began the number of students had gone from 10 VCAL students to 90, such was the success of the program, and there is a strong waiting list. He also said the school might consider not replacing technology and other equipment as a way of trying to keep the VCAL course option running.
The ramifications as a result of the Baillieu government’s decision are not isolated to Bellarine Secondary College. I have been contacted by teachers, students and parents from throughout the electorate who have highlighted the problems they have been facing and the options they have when struggling to cope with this cut. Some of these problems include increased class sizes, reduced subject options in the senior years, cuts to staff numbers, inadequate facilities to fund VCAL students and inadequate maintenance funding.
The opposition will continue to criticise the decision to cut VCAL. The media continues to criticise the decision. The teachers and students have also told us of the damaging impacts of the decision.
The PRESIDENT — Order! I am advised by Hansard that the system is not working and 5 minutes are needed to reboot the system. I will resume the chair at the ringing of the bells.
Sitting suspended 9.43 a.m. until 9.53 a.m.