We have a double inequality in the outcomes from the Tasmanian public schooling system. First, and as in the rest of the country, students in our more advantaged schools are achieving much better outcomes than students in schools at the other end of the scale. That is the Gonski Gap, the problem Gonski funding is designed to fix. But then we also have inequality between the senior secondary attainment of students in our government system compared with students attending similar schools in other states, regardless of whether they are attending an advantaged or a disadvantaged school. This is the TASki Gap. That is a problem we in Tasmania need to fix.
As both the Mayor of Latrobe and MLC for Mersey, I’ve been able to put into practice my firm beliefs that our schools are most successful when they are actively supported by the community, and that one of the most important roles of community leaders is to be powerful champions for our schools. Community based learning is definitely a two way relationship and a strategy of engagement which I am passionate about.
The recent news about education in Tasmania has not been all good, with concerns about both young peoples’ and adults’ literacy and numeracy, and the lower proportion of our young people completing year 12 compared to the rest of Australia.
But according to Professors Eleanor Ramsay and Michael Rowan, a closer look at the data shows that Tasmania is not so different to the other states, at least until year ten, and after that the gap can be closed if we challenge our young people to dream big and stay at school to get the knowledge and skills they need to realise their dreams.
Nothing is more important than education to our local communities’ health, economic competitiveness and resilience. Education is the most powerful, the most effective and in fact the only way to reverse a cycle of poor health, poverty, underemployment and disadvantage into an upward spiral of hope, jobs and achievement, for individuals, for communities, and indeed and for the State as a whole.