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Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas handed down Jacinta Allan's first budget on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images/Asanka Ratnayake

The key education efforts in Victoria’s budget

Part-time principals, international recruitment of teachers, and $400 for state school parents make up the key education measures of the Victorian state budget released on Tuesday.

Premier Jacinta Allan's first budget's focus is on helping families, with a heavy focus on education and young people.

$400 per child for government school families

The Schools Savings Bonus, the centre-piece of the budget's cost-of-living relief, will give all government school families and non-government school families with concession cards $400 per child to spend on education items such as uniforms, sport and camps.

The bonus, that costs $287m total, will be available for families to spend from Term 1 2025.

Gail McHardy, the chief executive of Parents Victoria, a voice representing parents in government school education, applauded the $400 school bonus, saying it would help families with increasing cost-of-living pressures.

President of the Victorian Principals’ Association Andrew Dalgleish also said families who were living “on the line” would benefit from it.

Natalie Draper and her daughter at Richmond Primary School. Picture: NCA Newswire/Jake Nowakowski

Melbourne mum of two Natalie Draper is one parent that will receive an extra $400 to put towards education expenses for daughter Piper, seven.

She said the payment was enough to cover the cost of Piper’s swimming and singing lessons for a term.

“It does add up, you end up spending $2000 or $3000 on extracurricular activities, which does bite into the pocket a bit,” she said.

Teacher shortage crisis management

The premier is keen to continue Victoria's reputation as the 'education state', which requires a strong backing of teachers, she said.

Many Victorian students, especially those living in regional areas, started the school year without a teacher.

Regional school principals will have expanded access to an advisory service, along with streamlined financial and payroll processes.

The budget's efforts include flexible working options for principals, such as job-sharing arrangements and part-time leadership roles in schools.

Recent surveys and anecdotal data depicts a worrying image of the welfare of school principals who are overwhelmed by unmanageable work loads and lack the time to focus on teaching quality and half of whom plan to quit.

A total $139m has been put to teacher support, recruitment, and retention, with efforts such as mental health programs, student behaviour management training and overall professional development.

A group of 100 teachers will receive $21m of that larger fund to complete 20 days of training to strengthen their maths knowledge and coaching skills.

Infrastructure and capital works

The Allan government is also continuing its push to build 100 schools by 2026, with $1bn for the last 16 schools to be built in areas such as Wallan, Mickleham, Point Cook and Tarneit.

There will also be money for new works at two recently opened schools, Mickleham Secondary College and Wollert Secondary School, and $227m for capital upgrades at 25 schools.

These include Beechworth Secondary College, Eildon Primary, Heidelberg Primary and Whittlesea Secondary College.

The $227m capital works money is part of a larger $753m school infrastructure package that will maintain, upgrade and expand existing schools, including creating new learning spaces and updating bathrooms.

A further $15m from the larger school infrastructure fund will be put towards the Accessible Buildings Program, which will build or upgrades ramps, handrails, bathrooms and technology for students with a disability.

Student wellbeing

Psychologists, speech pathologists and social workers will make up student support teams in schools with $22m padding, along with $14m for other mental health services in schools which will include face to face and phone counselling from headspace workers.

LOOKOUT programs – that keep children living in out‑of‑home care engaged in education – will receive $8.4m to hire new workers and carers.

An extra $11m will go towards keeping multicultural students in touch with their heritage language, and $3.9m will help meet demand for translating services in schools and early childhood centres.

Relationships and post-school initiatives

Teach Respectful Relationships – a program for schools that promotes teaching students about respect and equality – will receive an extra $39m.

The program was one recommendation from the 2015 Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The budget paper states "healthy and safe relationships are pivotal to preventing family violence and keeping women and children safe."

As part of a $23m pilot program, a number of students looking to leave school to pursue a trade or VET studies will get access in years nine and 10 school to short VET courses and TAFE experience.

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