New focus on agricultural education

Thursday 12 December 2013

The Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, and Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, today announced the NSW Government's response to a report into agricultural education and training in the State.

Mr Piccoli said the report, authored by Professor Jim Pratley, a Professor of Agriculture at Charles Sturt University, was commissioned to ensure agricultural education remained relevant to the industry.

"Agriculture contributes around $9 billion to the NSW economy every year, so it is vital that the education offered to students reflects current best-practice," Mr Piccoli said.

"The report assessed current and projected industry and workforce needs, and how effectively current school, Vocational Education and Training and higher education programs respond to those needs."

Ms Hodgkinson said the NSW Government's response positions government education, training and research institutions to more readily respond to developments in the industry.

"The NSW Government's response to the review will involve the whole education and agriculture sectors – schools, TAFE, the Board of Studies and the Department of Primary Industries – in a comprehensive upgrade over time of the options available to students," Ms Hodgkinson said.

"By matching agricultural education courses to the knowledge of industry, we can better support students moving from study to employment, and help to ensure the industry has a workforce with the right skills."

Key recommendations supported by the NSW Government include:

  • Improving agricultural careers advice given in schools, and consideration of establishing an ‘Agriculture and Food Week' during the school year;
  • Developing a statement on teaching about agriculture in primary school for primary teachers including advice about resources that can be used to support teaching about agriculture;
  • Ensuring primary teacher training and professional development provides the necessary expertise to deliver teaching about agriculture and food through science and the broader primary curriculum;
  • Including agriculture, food and fibre as the basis of at least one content area in Year 7 and 8 Technology;
  • Agricultural high schools be considered ‘specialist schools' for education and training in agriculture and primary industries, where all students are encouraged to study the subjects, and specialist agriculture teaching staff are directly appointed;
  • Agricultural high schools work more closely together as a forum for professional development, to share equipment, and to be a contact agency for former students;
  • Schools with strong agriculture programs have greater opportunity to share their expertise as ‘lighthouse' schools;
  • Consideration be given to re-establishing the Murrumbidgee College of Agriculture;
  • Aboriginal students are better supported to take up opportunities for employment and further education and training in agriculture; and
  • Department of Primary Industries' research centres hold annual forums for agriculture teachers.

Mr Piccoli said the NSW Government will support 26 of the 27 recommendations to Government, and strongly encourages industry to consider its capacity to implement the review's 15 recommendations to industry.

Find out more about the Government's response.



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