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$5.9 million program to keep kids in school

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Melbourne: The Andrews Labor Government is supporting all of the recommendations of the Victorian Ombudsman’s report on government school expulsions to help Victorian principals and teachers keep more kids in school and out of trouble.

Minister for Education James Merlino on Aug 14 announced a new $5.9 million program that will assist schools develop and implement strategies to help students with serious behavioural issues avoid expulsion and stay engaged, an official press release said.

The Ombudsman’s report exposes the neglect of the former Liberal Government, who made it far too easy for students to be expelled.

As a result, many young people were not given the opportunity to turn their lives around and have disengaged from the education system.

The Labor Government will implement the recommendations in the Ombudsman’s report through:

* higher level departmental approval of all prep, year one and year two expulsions

* more support and oversight of expulsions through Regional Engagement Officers, who will work with principals and teachers to intervene early for those at risk of expulsion

* an overhaul of the Department of Education Training data collection, analysis, record keeping and reporting, to make sure that expulsions are monitored appropriately

* a review of the appeals process to ensure it is fair and transparent

* extra assistance for schools to support students with behavioural challenges, including 17 area-based positive behavioural support coaches and access expert advice from behavioural analysts across the state.

This investment is part of the Labor Government’s huge investment in supporting principals and teachers, and keeping young people in school – particularly those showing challenging behaviours and at risk of disengaging.

The Government’s $13.2 million Lookout program is helping 6,000 students in out-of-home care to stay in education and the $8.6 million Navigator program is helping 10-18 year olds who are at risk of leaving school.

In 2015, the Labor Government provided an $82.2 million funding boost to hire 157 new staff to work with principals and schools and help them improve student outcomes and deal with complex issues such as expulsion.

Merlino said, “The former Liberal Government abandoned students in trouble, leaving them to disengage and drop out of school – we won’t do that because you can’t just give up on kids.”

(TIW)

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