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'Spin doctor' sought for Year 7 to high school campaign

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The Education Department is advertising for a communications adviser specifically to help it promote the move of Year 7 from primary to high school, prompting accusations it’s bringing in “spin doctors” to try to convince the public the reform is “on track”.

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But the State Government and department have defended the new role, saying it’s necessary to develop communications materials about the major reform for the education workforce and families “to ensure a smooth transition”.

Year 7 students will move from primary to high school across South Australia next year, fulfilling a State Government election pledge.

A job ad for the “Communications Adviser, Year 7 to High School” says the salary will be $80,830 – $89,897 a year and the position is contracted until December.

The ad says the adviser will “support the department to meet its government objective of delivering the project”.

“They are responsible for sourcing and producing written content with a focus on providing specific communications support to the Year 7 to High School project,” the ad says.

Key responsibilities listed for the job include:

Opposition education spokesman Blair Boyer said “it’s no surprise that just over one year out from the next state election the Marshall Liberal Government is bringing in the spin doctors”.

“This new public service position flies in the face of Steven Marshall’s commitment before the last state election to reduce the number of spin doctors,” he said.

“The fact that the job description states the responsibility of the successful candidate will be to ‘write engaging content about the Year 7 to High School project…’ shows this is only about the government desperately trying to convince the South Australian public that the transition of year 7 into high school is on track.”

But Education Minister John Gardner said the move of Year 7 into high school was “a significant and important body of work and the Education Department is getting on with delivering it, ensuring that the transition is as smooth as possible for students, families and staff”.

“If Blair Boyer believes that public service roles are political then that says everything about the way that Labor treated the public service,” he said.

Australian Education Union state president Lara Golding said “instead of spending valuable resources on marketing, Minister Gardner should be taking urgent action to make sure students are getting the funding and support they need”.

“What’s really important in the move of year 7 to high school is learning and wellbeing support for students and professional development for staff,” she said.

An Education Department spokeswoman said “moving year 7 to high school is the most significant, system-wide reform to public education in generations”.

“A key priority is supporting schools to keep families well-informed about the move, as we prepare for 2022,” she said.

“The communications adviser will help develop communications materials about the project for the education workforce and families to ensure a smooth transition.”

The spokeswoman said the Year 7 reform was “a big change and we are excited to share more information with families throughout the year”.

“This new position will play an important role within the central project team to ensure parents and teachers have access to clear information about the move to inform their preparations,” she said.

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