Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 1 Hansard (12 February) . . Page.. 62..
MS PORTER (continuing):
minister please outline to the Assembly some of the new initiatives students can expect in our schools in the 2008 school year?
MR BARR: I thank Ms Porter for her question and for her ongoing interest in the education portfolio, an interest that has been sustained over some time. In fact, I believe that Ms Porter has asked more questions on education than any other member in this place. I thank her for her interest.
The ACT has a very proud reputation as a leader in education. The 2008 school year will see a range of new initiatives implemented across schools in the ACT. First and foremost, there is the introduction of the new curriculum framework, to be rolled out across public, Catholic and independent schools this year. This is an important step forward in our education system. It has been a magnificent collaborative effort from public schools, from the Catholic school system and from independent schools.
Teachers and educators from across all three sectors have been involved in the development of this new framework. It has been very well received by all of the schools in all of those sectors, particularly the schools that tried the framework through 2007. I am very pleased that all schools in the ACT are part of this new approach. We are the first jurisdiction in Australia to fully incorporate the national statements of learning into our new curriculum framework.
Members would be aware that we are now two years into a $350 million investment in our public education system. Last week we had the opportunity to see and welcome a new school into our family of public education—the school of Harrison, opening its first day with more than 300 enrolments, a fully subscribed preschool program and a fully subscribed kindergarten program for the new school.
It is interesting to contrast the level of enrolments at the new school, in an area where there is clearly demand for additional public education, with demand elsewhere in the city. There were more than 300 students on the first day of what is a world-class education facility and the first of four new schools that this government will be delivering over the next four years.
In addition, in this school year we see pastoral care coordinators starting in each of our public high schools. This is an important initiative of government, funded through the second appropriation last year. In addition, across our primary school sector we will see physical education coordinators working with schools to improve PE in our school system. The minister's physical activity challenge will kick off in term 3 and will be supported by the Children's Physical Activity Foundation that the government kick-started with a quarter of a million dollars—again funded through the second appropriation.
We look forward to providing enhanced support for Indigenous students this year. A $3.3 million package comes into effect this school year, with additional targeted support for students who are not achieving national benchmarks at year 3 testing level. They will be provided with additional support at year 4. But also, as part of this package, there is support and encouragement for Indigenous students who are high achievers, to give them the support they need to continue that high achievement through the later primary school and into the secondary and college years. This is an