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On June 28, 2013 DEECD released Circular S245 to schools and principals stating that the Department and NEC have initiated a six-month transition period for access to the Ultranet to continue for current users and allowing time for each school to determine the Ultranet's place in their future plans.  From January 1, 2014, NEC will assume full responsibility for provision of the Ultranet and schools that wish to use the service will do so on an individual user-pays system.

Parents Victoria's Executive Officer, Gail McHardy, made the following comments (28/6/13):

Parents Victoria Executive Officer, Gail McHardy was intrigued at the timing of the DEECD communication to all Victorian Government Schools on Friday afternoon and infuriated at its content.

Gail explained the Ultranet as it had been explained to Parents Victoria and their members for the last 6 yrs, was an opportunity to connect and communicate more closely with families and their school on attendance, learning and reporting, strengthen relations between school and home.

"How does the Victorian Government propose schools should communicate to parents now, or is that going to be optional too!" she said.

DEECDs excuse in regard to low take up numbers by school communities, is a farce!  Principals and teachers were not at all supportive from the outset, rightly or wrongly, in regard to the Ultranet with past and present governments. So parents were last to be logged on and only a small number of schools did in the end, as it was optional.

When this State Government came to power we were promised pending announcement numerous times but nothing eventuated until the bombshell today. So $180mil  explains a whole lot why Public schools have had to function in a budget neutral environment and with various cuts to programs.
So come January 2014 what charges are parents likely to be hit with now?  Who and how will these costs be determined? If schools opt for other ICT providers and suppliers other than the Ultranet platform driven by NEC what will they cost and deliver?

Governments and Schools will need to be reminded  about DEECDs Payments Policy as the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 ensures the provision of free instruction in the standard curriculum program (i.e. eight key learning areas).
If families cannot afford to purchase via the school or are expected to BYO iPad or a netbook with the required licenced software, how on earth our our children going to learn and what is the Government actually funding?  So much for equity and even more reason to sign onto Gonski Premier Napthine!
Related reading:  Herald Sun article "Problem Prone Ultranet System, worth $180 Million, axed by Government", June 28, 2013.


Parents, teachers and principals have called for the wide-scale removal of asbestos in Victorian schools, as state government audits reveal many buildings need the toxic material cleaned up immediately.  The Age, June 9, 2013  Parents Victoria's Executive Officer, Gail McHardy, comments.


Four out of five parents want the government to ban internet firms such as Google from tracking their child's school email and web browsing to target advertising.  Sydney Morning Herald, June 9, 2013


ACSSO Media Release  NSW first to sign up - National Education Reform Agreement.

Prime Minister Gillard met with ACT Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher in Canberra on May 30 to announce the ACT sign-up.

Parents Victoria was incredibly disappointed and frustrated to hear that Victoria did not sign up to the funding recommendations at COAG ......   Media Release PV school funding post COAG 2013

ACSSO Sad day for public education Media Release 19/4/13

Australia's political leaders at today's COAG (Council of Australian Governments) meeting have immensely disappointed the parents of Australia.  The Federal Government's plan in response to the Gonski review into school funding was rejected at today's COAG meeting.

Parents Victoria recently provided the following comments for media - 14/4/13.

"Gail McHardy, Parents Victoria Executive Officer representing parents in Public Schools said the overall cut to the EMA, worth more than $14 million, was a severe blow and the ramifications are now being felt since its impact from January this year.

Low-income families and schools are the hardest hit and already we have seen some schools transferring the monetary pressure to their school community to make up the loss of income. Some principals are urging EMA-eligible parents to sign over their EMA payments to schools, as some Principals claim some parents cannot be responsible in making a decision on how this money is contributed to their child's education.

Parents Victoria believes it is not the role of schools to make judgements on families, rich or poor,  on how they manage the family budget in current economic times.   If Governments make education cuts to our Public Education system it is not up to DEECD employees to seek those lost funds from the most vulnerable members of our school communities.

State Government pledged at last year's budget to provide ''equity funding'' of $62 million over four years to the 200 poorest state schools. Parents Victoria is still waiting to hear how that distribution has happened and for some schools you have to question why is a Government taking money from the poor to give to the poorer when families have already met requirements for the EMA payment.  Government claimed they are paying parents more - we would argue the school component of the EMA was originally paid in full to the parents so with that axed, how can a Government claim increase when in fact, it is a cut.

Parents Victoria is well aware of the frustrations that school leaders and School Councils are feeling currently.

Parents Victoria feels strongly that all education stakeholders need to stand up to both State and Federal Governments (in particular Treasury) to say that if they want top tier school performance and better student outcomes they better start investing in our Public Schools."

Principals will soon have greater power to expel students who threaten others.

Parents Victoria's Executive Officer, Gail McHardy comments.  April 8, 2013

The State Government is under pressure from parents and teachers to help deliver a $4 billion shot in the arm for Victorian schools.  But the Education Minister says any deal is still a long way off.

The Australian, April 14, 2013  Parents Victoria's Executive Officer, Gail McHardy comments.

Read  ACSSO welcomes funding plan April 14, 2013




Parents could hire and fire principals with school councils given  unprecedented powers under a proposed shake-up of Victoria's public education system.  The Age April 7, 2013

Parents Victoria's Executive Officer, Gail McHardy provided the following comments to ABC News

* Parents Victoria supports already existing functions and powers of school councils (with parent representatives) in the selection of Principals to their local school.
* Parents Victoria would not be supportive of the whole responsibility of hiring & firing being shifted to the governing body, as we see that as a State Government (DEECD) responsibility.
* Parents Victoria stated that we already experience problems with Principal Performance, but to shift the responsibility to school communities could cause even more problems than we already have.
* The Minister references NZ in this article and we would caution that NZ government at some stage even considered taking that responsibility back, so more research is required before we adopt the practices of others.
Victoria and Australia is well known for its educational expertise, it would be better to build on what we have and strengthen our councils with better representation, training and support to do perform the job more effectively.




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