The Liberal Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell has slammed the Andrews Labor Government’s Minister for Education James Merlino for once again failing to meet designated timelines for delivering the Early Childhood & Primary stage of the Shepparton Education Plan. This is the third deadline for this component of the plan that the Minister has failed to meet.
Stage 1 of the Shepparton Education Plan saw the closure of four public secondary schools and creation of the controversial Greater Shepparton Secondary College, with construction due to be completed later this year for occupancy from January 2022. However, the development of the remaining two stages of the plan, Early Childhood & Primary and Higher Education & Skills are still yet to be completed.
Originally the Government gave an undertaking that the Early Childhood & Primary stage of the plan would be developed by December 2018 and the Higher Education & Skills stage by June 2019. Both of these dates were prior to COVID-19.
After the Government failed to meet these timelines, Ms Lovell raised the issue in State Parliament and sought an explanation why these two stages had not been completed. In his response, Mr Merlino created new timelines for delivery of the Plan, stating that the Early Childhood & Primary stage would be published in early 2020 and the Higher Education & Skills stage would be published in early-mid 2020.
Again, this second set of deadlines passed without any details of the plans announced and in February this year Ms Lovell sought a further explanation from Mr Merlino as to why the Government had failed to deliver the plan within the timeframes for a second time. Mr Merlino responded by blaming the COVID-19 pandemic and set a third set of timeframes stating the Early Childhood & Primary stage plan would be released by the end of March 2021, but for the third time he has once again missed his own deadline.
Ms Lovell said the Minister’s failure to meet his own deadlines on three separate occasions raises questions about the Government’s ability to deliver the Shepparton Education Plan that caters for the future education of students in Greater Shepparton.
Comments attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell:
“James Merlino’s failure to meet three separate deadlines for the release of the remaining stages of the Shepparton Education Plan is proof that he is all spin and no substance when talking about education in Greater Shepparton.
“While Minister Merlino keeps ignoring his own timeframes for delivering details of further stages of the plan, parents remain uncertain about their children’s education.
“There has been little to no community consultation regarding the Early Childhood & Primary or Higher Education & Skills stages of the Shepparton Education Plan and local families are fearful about what education in these areas will look like in the future.”
|Plan||First deadline||Second deadline||Third deadline|
|Early Childhood & Primary||Dec 2018 – MISSED||Early 2020 – MISSED||Mar 2021- MISSED|
|Higher Education and Skills||Jun 2019 – MISSED||Early-mid 2020 – MISSED||May 2021|
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