The government has confirmed the trial of its new program to link schools and business and encourage study in maths and science will happen in Geelong.
A Geelong school will become the trial site for a program linking business and students.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Education Minister Christopher Pyne confirmed on Wednesday the $500,000 Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) would be established in Victoria’s second largest city.
It’s hoped the program will lead to some schools specialising in topics like science, technology, engineering and maths in partnership with related businesses.
Mr Abbott was impressed when he visited a school in the Bronx, New York that was partnered with IBM in a similar program.
“You have businesses such as IBM which are sponsoring these schools, putting in a bit of money, but putting in a lot of expertise and generally mentoring and helping the students there,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“We think this model has potential applicability to Australia and why not start the first of them in Geelong?”
Mr Pyne said any corporate cash would be on top of normal government funding for schools and would never replace it.
“It’s a deliberate program to try and promote more science, technology, engineering and maths which we are lacking in Australia,” he told ABC radio.
Australian Education Union federal president Angelo Gavrielatos warned the scheme amounted to the corporatisation of schools.
Australian schools had already established links with industries and businesses, he said.
“We have never allowed companies … to actually have a direct involvement in what students are taught or the way schools are run,” he said.
Mr Pyne denied that was the aim.
“It’s not a free-for-all for anybody who wants to get involved in schools,” he said.
“There’s absolutely no suggestion whatsoever … that corporate involvement would replace government funding or government oversight or government control.”