As a learning city, Melbourne will foster lifelong learning and a collaborative, city-based learning culture in the municipality drawing on the rich resources of the city's education, business, cultural and government sectors.
Future Melbourne 2008
The provision of schools and a quality education for children was the most commonly discussed topic in this Priority. Many people identified a lack of schools in the centre of the city as a deficiency for Melbourne, and suggestions of how to address this were provided. Suggestions were also provided on how to improve the delivery of education to children in a variety of different ways. Many people identified the need to provide learning opportunities for a wide range of people outside formal institutions and the subsequent benefits that would then flow to the community were also discussed.
Summary of ideas (total 103 statements)
Schools (66 statements)
Provision of schools in the city
A very high number of people made strong statements in support of more schools in the city. Many people identified ‘vertical schools’ as the solution to providing schools in the dense urban centre. Two ideas about this had the support of many in a conversation, with a couple stating that although not the ‘gold standard’, vertical schools are better than no schools. The availability of more schools in the city was seen as a way to allow a more diverse population access to city living.
A truly cohesive society requires catering to all demands needed to support it and central schools are an integral part of ensuring families see the city as a long term habitat for them. The idea of a vertical school to meet the needs and future growth seems sensible and necessary, in particular in light of the lack of places available now in all bar one or two schools on the outer fringe of the CBD.
Several statements about schools in the city highlighted the overcrowding of existing schools and some stated that increased housing developments, including apartments, should be matched with increased school provision. Individual propositions for more schools in the city mentioned that schools don’t necessarily need to be large; schools could utilise existing CBD office space, rather than being purpose-built; schools require government commitment to spending on land; and, a few people stated that innovative solutions should be sought to remedy the lack of schools in the city.
Many comments in this section highlighted that there are benefits from schools being located close to places of living or work. Benefits identified included reduced commuting times, and consequently more leisure time and less congestion, more diversity in the inner city; a more cohesive city community, built around the school community, for example; and, schooling for city dwellers as a right.
I want the MCC to embrace the community and encourage families to live, work and play within the inner city, where communities are built around local schools and facilities are provided to support these aims.
Most statements about schools in the city were about primary schools, several were about high schools, and a couple were about pre-school, kindergarten, or out of school care provision in the city.
School education delivery
As well as providing city schools, a large number of people discussed the way that education is delivered in schools.
One idea that sparked discussion in a conversation was about the greater inclusion of history from an Aboriginal perspective in Australian education. This idea was supported by many and was proposed in consultation with leading Aboriginal organisations, such as the Long Walk, the Wandarra Foundation and the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association. An education system that delivers a more multi-cultural perspective was raised by one person as a way to encourage respect between cultures.
There were several statements on new approaches to education that could contribute to Melbourne being a knowledge city. These included several statements that were centered on a more flexible or forward-thinking system, introducing digital engineering or digital technology training in primary schools, and creating more efficiency and relevance in schools to fit real world applications.
The schooling system is a few hundred years old and has ties to colonial Britain, and thus needs evolving to fit a 21'st century-digital world.
Individual statements included more focus on memory skills in schools, more time off from education to work and volunteer, and more school time dedicated to fostering inclusiveness and creativity.
Lifelong learning (37 statements)
A large number of people discussed Melbourne as a city for lifelong learning. Feedback under this heading referred to educative opportunities outside of formal learning institutions. Many people saw value in opportunities for Melbourne citizens to learn in situations other than schools or universities.
Education/learning centres, hubs, KidZania (a theme park style learning environment for children), opportunities for mentoring, libraries and seminars were all identified as ways in which a lifelong learning culture could be made accessible, across many sections of the population.
Many statements identified that education should be available or accessible to all, which meant for various individuals, such as asylum seekers, people with a disability, the elderly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, young people, and those who have English as a second language.
People stated that there were benefits from creating more opportunities for education. For several people benefits were social (for example, increasing opportunities to network, and increasing social participation). For some people this meant other benefits like improving employment prospects, or learning new skills.
The financial cost of providing access to training for this small group [asylum seekers] is minimal in comparison to the benefits gained by one of our most marginalised groups. Understanding a country's language is one of the first steps to feeling like you belong.
Several succinct statements simply mentioned education, or knowledge, as priorities for Melbourne.