Low extension schools attendance rates sparks review call

Australian Education Union Tasmania is calling for a review into the state’s Years 11 and 12 extension schools program following the release of worrying attendance data.

Pushing the Years 11 and 12 extension school program into urban high schools where colleges are already well-established was always a political fix, not good education policy.

A recent auditor general report into the Years 11 and 12 extension schools program found “the absence of detailed planning impacted on the effectiveness and efficiency of implementation”.

It identified that the program was rolled out two years earlier than planned which meant “some risks to successful implementation were not addressed”. The report said the Department “would have benefited from more detailed planning in the initial planning stages to support earlier identification and mitigation of such risks”.

Data released in response to a question on notice in a budget estimates hearing last month showed that of the 59 state schools that have expanded to years 11 and 12, 11 had average daily attendance rates below 60 per cent in the 2022 school year.

The AEU believes a review of the extension school program is necessary to assess its effectiveness in delivering the best education outcomes for Tasmanian students.

While the program aims to provide continuity and familiarity for students, low attendance rates suggest improvements could be made. 

We must ensure that all students have access to high-quality education and that the extension schools program is delivering positive outcomes for students. A review would help identify areas where changes are required.

It is crucial the Rockliff Government begins properly funding Tasmanian schools with adequate resources to support all students – especially in the early years – to alleviate student disengagement later on in their schooling. A funding commitment should involve investing in more teachers and support staff, enhanced infrastructure, and targeted programs to improve student engagement and outcomes.