Inquiry hears TAFE’s response to crisis ‘did not address issues’

TAFE SA sign on CBD bus stop. Picture: Cathy Davis

SYSTEMATIC breakdowns in marketing, training and assessment and a failure to properly respond once concerns were raised are at the heart of a key submission into the TAFE SA crisis.

The Australian Skills Quality Authority submission lays bare the rationale underpinning the decisions on each course.

The national auditor’s submission to today’s Senate inquiry into the TAFE crisis showed course assessments often failed to test whether a student had grasped key content.

It also revealed TAFE’s response to the initial notice in September that the auditor intended to impose sanctions on 16 courses failed to ease concerns about the most of the issues raised.

“The audit identified critical and systemic noncompliances across the training examined … related to marketing, training and assessment strategies, assessment systems and trainer and assessor skills,” the submission states.

“Overall, the (October) response and rectification evidence submitted did not adequately address all of the noncompliances identified at audit.”

The authority’s chief commissioner Mark Paterson will appear at the hearing, which is being held in Sydney.

But no representatives from TAFE SA or the State Government will give evidence.

SA Skills Minister Susan Close dismissed the inquiry as “nothing more than a political witch hunt”.

“The State Government’s main priority is getting on with the job of supporting students and resolving any issues within TAFE,” she said.

The Advertiser understands bureaucrats from the SA Department of State Development were contacted about appearing but a spokeswoman said it was not “formally invited”.

Australian Skills Quality Authority chief commissioner Mark Paterson will be appearing at the hearing.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the SA Government was yet to explain publicly how it had fixed the issue for affected students or rectified the overall TAFE system.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Labor was “naive” if it thought holding this inquiry interstate meant what was revealed would not going to make it back to SA.

“ … this scandal needs to be fully investigated and the sooner the better,” she said.

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