Katter challenges Minister clean up National Curriculum debacle

Member for Mount Isa, Rob Katter said it is time the Minister stepped in and acted on the National Curriculum debacle which is continuing to cause severe problems for rural people involved in distance education.

“Remote families relying on School of the Air education have been belted for six by the introduction of this new curriculum and the way it was rolled out.

“C2C: Curriculum to Classroom was hurriedly introduced into the School of Distance Education in 2012, despite having so many flaws the Queensland Education Department suggested it be delayed.”

Mr Katter said he was approached by parents from the Isolated Children’s Parents Association (ICAP) not long after C2C was initiated in 2012, and he raised the problems in Parliament and with the Minister.

“I hoped they were only teething problems, but now, nearly two years later, the situation is worse as parents and pupils are battling with an unworkable system.

“It’s causing a huge amount of distress and many students are overwhelmed by the difficulty of the curriculum.

Mr Katter said he has had parents pull him aside on his travels to rural and remote regions within his electorate.

“They are distressed by the crippling drought, but top of mind is the impact of this national curriculum.

“Mothers are reporting that in addition to being the station cook, the station hand, and the station bookkeeper, they are now full time teachers.

“The curriculum material is so complex they’re spending from 9am to 5pm on it, with lunch and smoko eaten at their desks.

“It’s taken away all the enjoyment of learning for both parents and pupils and some have just given up and sent their kids to boarding school early, or moved to town so their children can attend school.”

Mr Katter said the problems included:

· Not getting materials on time, or not getting them at all

· Sub-standard materials with political/social engineering agendas

· Problems downloading materials; families have had to extend their internet plans to cope

· Material is difficult to modify to different levels of learning ability

· Digital support via Mistick, the technological link for parents and pupils, was unreliable or just did not work.

· Programs on literacy were deemed to be insufficient by almost every parent I spoke to

“Imagine what would happen if these difficulties were encountered in a Brisbane state high school? There would be an outcry,” Mr Katter said.

“Yet because these children are on properties, hundreds of kilometres from the nearest town or city, they are forgotten by this Government.”

Mr Katter said Mount Isa School of the Air reported just last month that participation in the music program has dropped by 66% over the past few years, because of difficulty with the national curriculum and with the drought generally.

“There’s no fun, no pleasure left in the curriculum.

“Parents have pleaded with me to try and assist as they are doing it tough and want their kids to have the ability to get off the land with a good education and not have to battle it out like they have on the land.

“It’s not only station owners; a lot of fencing and mustering contractors out there are battling it out trying to get their kids educated and this could just turn them away from school altogether.”

Mr Katter said the Minister has responded that they will look at the national review at the end of the year and make decision from there.

“In the context of the Rural Crisis at the moment the Government needs to treat this very serious issue with some urgency.”