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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 06 Hansard (Thursday, 5 May 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1873 ..

learning opportunities for their students and are able to involve parents and teachers in the learning process. We have consistently said that a measure of how well our community as a whole is travelling is how well our public schools and students are performing.

This government has not sought to defund public education, nor for that matter the private school sector, which operates on the basis of public, private and parent funding. Rather we have invested more heavily in our education infrastructure than any previous government in the territory. Since the 2001-02 financial year we have invested more than $80 million in education. This year alone the government has $24 million in new and continuing initiatives in ACT schools.

Our record has been built from a systematic engagement with education in the ACT, first through the Connors inquiry into education funding, and subsequently through our curriculum renewal project. We continue to invest in a better understanding of our schools and their issues through the SCAN process, which has now evaluated the disability needs of individuals in public and private schools.

We have prioritised the early years of learning, with this budget delivering on our major commitment to increase preschool hours from 10½ hours per week to 12 hours per week. Our public preschools are an important and unique part of Canberra’s school system. This commitment will mean that the ACT will lead the way in investing in early learning. It will be complemented by our existing initiative to lower class sizes from kindergarten to Year 3. Almost $6 million in new initiatives has been delivered by this government to improve the educational and learning opportunities for Canberra’s youngest students.

The government has invested in a meaningful school experience for all students through a doubling of the schools equity fund and the creation of new student support funds. These essential equity measures enable kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate fully in their education, without family budgets being stressed to breaking point. We have also increased funding for students with disabilities across the education sector, with funding now based on a genuine analysis of need.

We have ensured that our schools have the very best ICT infrastructure, with the interactive whiteboard roll out set to continue with funding through last year’s second appropriation. We have upgraded ICT capacity in government and non-government schools in need through the 2002-03 budget and rolled out broadband for non-government schools.

High schools, colleges and vocational education have also been recipients of new programs to meet the challenges in their sector. The government will be working with these areas over the next three years to continue the good work.

The work of this government is delivering students who are active participants in their communities and talented young people ready to make a contribution to our growing economy. By getting the foundations right, this government is delivering an education system capable of meeting the needs of students and the challenges facing our Canberra community.

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