TAFE protest claims refuted by Crouch

Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch (front) with fellow MPs, Shadow Minister Tim Crakanthorp and concerned students at Gosford TAFE

Labor MPs on the Central Coast have criticised a move towards online learning at TAFE campuses as a “path towards privatisation”.

They were joined by Shadow Minister for Vocational Education, Tim Crakanthorp, at Gosford TAFE recently to discuss the move with students.

The MPs said from next year, Central Coast students entering a Certificate III in Engineering (Mechanical Trade and Fabrication Trade) at TAFE will be forced to move to online learning.

Labelled by the NSW Government as a “trial”, Crakanthorp said the move will drive students out of TAFE with a drop in enrolments opening the way for privatisation.

“The reality is our TAFE system is being decimated from within and our students are suffering,”

Tim Crakanthorp MP

Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch, said as a former teacher she knows those who choose to pursue a career with an entry pathway through TAFE want a “hands on approach” to learning.

“Moving TAFE online completely defeats that purpose,” she said.

Shadow Minister for the Central Coast, David Harris, also a former teacher and school principal, said online learning is not a model that works for all students, particularly in areas where hands on applications are vital.

“The NSW Government should have a mixed model of delivery which does not close face to face courses for students,” he said.

Member for The Entrance, David Mehan, said employers are saying they need trained staff and TAFE is the best way to provide this.

Second year boiler maker, Tim Lumby, said says he might as well not go to TAFE if it moves online.

“When we did TAFE online (during lockdown) it was very hard to zone in for six hours and it was difficult because we could not get any one-on-one learning done with our teacher,” he said.

“Numbers in our classes kept dropping every week and a lot of people missed out content.

“There was no hands-on learning and we all had to sort of patch the content together ourselves.

“To be honest you would be better off skipping TAFE and staying at work five days a week – you would learn more.”

But Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch, said the new delivery model for the courses will have minimal impact on TAFE teaching hours and zero impact on apprentices and employers.

“Since June 2021, TAFE NSW North Region Head Teachers of Engineering have been working with TAFE NSW (on) a review of the traditional face to face delivery model for the Certificate III in Engineering – Mechanical Trade and Certificate III in Engineering – Fabrication Trade,” Crouch said.

“Following this collaboration with teachers, TAFE NSW is proposing to pilot a new contemporary model which includes virtual learning to increase capacity for students.

“Only four units out of the total 36 units of competency will be delivered virtually as part of this trial.”

Adam Crouch MP

Crouch said the proposed schedule for the course will see face to face induction on campus in week one; virtual learning during weeks two-four; a return to campus for assessments and practical activities in week five; more virtual learning in weeks six-eight; and a return to campus once more for assessments and practical activities in week nine.

Terry Collins

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