State Labor MP Jenny Mikakos is “perplexed” at the decision by Wales Street Primary School Council to knock back state government funding to reinstate the Greek language program.
In all my years as a parliamentarian I’ve never seen a school knock back an offer of funding, so I have to say I’m surprised and perplexed at why this funding has been knocked back.
She remained hopeful that school council would change its mind after last week’s final decision, and encouraged disgruntled parents to run for school council early next year.
“In all my years as a parliamentarian I’ve never seen a school knock back an offer of funding, so I have to say I’m surprised and perplexed at why this funding has been knocked back,” she said.
“I hope that the school council reconsiders, but I respect the fact that it is ultimately their decision.”
Mikakos said she and local member for Northcote Fiona Richardson had approached the Education Minister, Bronwyn Pike, and the education department, and managed to secure funding to reinstate Greek alongside Italian in the school’s Languages Other Than English (LOTE) program.
“We made the case that there had been a long-standing Greek program offered at that school, that there’s a significant Greek community in the Thornbury area, that there are a number of parents who wish for their children to keep studying the Greek language at that school,” she said, adding that additional funding is not easy to come by.
“It would be an ongoing program, and it would be the same level of teaching as what’s offered for Italian, which is one hour a week,” she said.
But Wales Street Primary School Principal Chris Sexton told Neos Kosmos last week that the decision to offer only one language in their Languages Other Than English (LOTE) program was not only based on funding.
Mr Sexton said the 2009 decision to only offer Italian was also influenced by timetabling and behavioural issues caused by class disruption.
He added that recent feedback from staff and students about the change has been “extremely positive”.
“Data is showing that students are more engaged in the LOTE program with staff reporting significantly less instances of disruptive behaviour from students,” he said.
“Moving to a single LOTE has improved timetabling of the curriculum which is in turn enabling more learning time for the students.”
Mikakos said she was “could not understand” how issues around timetabling couldn’t be resolved.
“The funding’s now been secured, so I would have though that any other concerns that might exist would be relatively minor,” she said.
The offer of funding will remain on the table, but Mikakos stressed that the decision was not up to the Victorian government.
“We have a system of independent school governance, that’s been in place for around 20 years now, whereby school councils ultimately make these types of decisions.”
She encouraged parents who were unhappy with the decision to run for school council.
“As I understand it there are school council elections in the first term of next year, where half the school council will be up for election,” she said.
“So it’s possible that the membership of the school council might change, and it’s possible that the school council might change its mind then or possibly earlier.”