In the lead up to Saturday’s election, Tehan told EducationHQ that rural education will remain his focus moving forward.
“Attendance rates at pre-school are a lot less in rural, remote, Indigenous and low socio-economic areas. Unfortunately from there the disadvantage is entrenched through the system and we see it play out at the higher ed level,” he said.
“The real focus that I’ve wanted to bring to the portfolio is addressing the disadvantage that those outside of the capital cities suffer as a result of access to education.”
Tehan also indicated an interest in granting public schools greater autonomy.
“In my view we need to give greater independence, especially in our public school system, to how schools are run. We have to give greater independence to principals to run the schools according to the needs of the local community.
“We see a lot of independent public schools in capital cities, but it seems that in regional and rural areas ... the state and territory education departments tend to want to run them more.”
Among the Coalition’s key campaign promises are $37 billion in additional school funding over the next decade, HELP debt assistance for 3100 teachers in very remote schools, $200 million for support and mentoring of Indigenous students, incentive payments for 80,000 apprenticeships, 16 new Regional Study Hubs and 4720 scholarships for tertiary students in regional areas.
Following an extraordinary last minute flyer campaign, Christian Schools Australia (CSA) executive officer Mark Spencer declared on Saturday that “traditional political wisdom has been turned on its head across Australia”.
“With religious freedom featuring in the campaign like never before, it is impossible to imagine that values were not front of mind for voters today,” Spencer said.
The Australian Education Union (AEU) said that Saturday’s upset election result will entrench inequality in schools.
“The fact the Federal Coalition had to put signs up on polling booths about school funding shows that our campaign was successful in making school funding a key election issue,” AEU president Correna Haythorpe said.
“We have not yet reached our goals of achieving ‘Fair Funding Now!’ for public schools across the country. The election of the Morrison Government means that inequality will now be entrenched, because public schools will not reach 100 % of the national resource standard by 2023, while private schools will be at or above it.
“Our campaign continues until we reach our objectives. We know that we have widespread support in our school communities which gives us hope of a future where our public schools are funded properly.”
Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA) CEO Beth Blackwood congratulated the Coalition on its election victory.
“The Coalition enters its third term of government having ensured a large degree of stability and certainty around national schooling issues,” Blackwood said.
“Schools with a religious affiliation – which account for around a third of total student enrolments in Australia – have the added assurance under a Morrison Government that religious freedoms will be valued and respected.”