Report from Cross-Sectoral Forum at Aquinas College, Ringwood

On Wednesday 22 April the College Principal, Mr Brennan, Deputy Principal, Mr Visentin, the College Captain, Patrick Atallah and the College Academic Ambassador, Peter Savat were able to attend a Cross-Sectoral Forum, at Aquinas College in Ringwood.

The Federal Minister for Education and Training, Christopher Pyne, discussed government policy, particularly that which is applicable to the education sector. The Minister also made himself available to answer a large number of probing questions from those in attendance.

The Forum was chaired by the Executive Director of Catholic Education in Victoria, Mr Stephen Elder, and he invited school principals and other school leaders as well as student leaders from the government, independent and Catholic sectors, along with parent representatives, to participate in the session.

Mr Pyne was able to elaborate on a number of policies and initiatives of the current Federal Government and he also provided details regarding the Government’s response to the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) report. He indicated that he was committed to improving initial teacher education to better prepare new teachers with the skills needed for the classroom and that while theory was important, it was vital for pre-service teachers to have practical experience in the classroom. Mr Pyne also highlighted the need for teachers to focus on specialty subjects science, maths and technology, as the TEMAG report indicated there were significant gaps in this area, particularly in primary schools. The Government is intending to work with Universities across the country to deliver this initiative and several questions and comments from the audience provided useful feedback and suggestions that the minister indicated he would investigate further.

It was certainly a positive experience for the students present to be able to engage with one of the members of the Federal Government and put forward their views to be able to influence decision making. We will watch with interest in the coming months as Mr Pyne negotiates the challenging political task of getting his plans into law through the parliament.