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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 26 November 2014) . . Page.. 4077 ..

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Berry for her interest. As I have said before, the government has placed parental engagement at the forefront of education priorities. I am constantly looking for ways that we can continue to improve our public education system and ways to better communicate the benefits of this system to our parents and carers in the ACT community in general.

The parent survey and associated work will help us ensure that we have a school system that is better serving its students and community. This survey is one part of a range of measures I have put in place to ensure that the government has the best information for families to ensure that our schools and processes are performing, that our parent and carer communities are engaged and play an active role, that pathways through all levels of schools are clear and meet the needs of our students, and that parents and students are part of the decision-making in their local schools.

These are commitments I made to the education community when I first became minister, and I am bringing them to fruition with the full support of parents, carers and teachers. We will have some interesting feedback, I have no doubt, from this survey, and we will work with the feedback from families. I am looking forward to receiving it. As I have said, we have a great education system here, but any government and any society can always improve on what is already good.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, what other actions has the government taken to ensure that schools are given the right tools and information to better engage with parents?

MS BURCH: I thank Dr Bourke for his interest in education. As I have consistently made clear, my aim as minister for education is to ensure that parents and families are at the centre of our system. Over the last two years, I have been very pleased to be able to announce and implement a number of policies and initiatives to ensure that this government is doing just that.

Members will be aware of the research project I commissioned with the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, to conduct research on parental engagement and how to ensure parents have the skills and confidence to help their children with their education. We have introduced the preschool matters initiative, which provides small grants to preschools to support parental engagement in these very early years. The Education and Training Directorate has developed a “parents and students at the centre” webpage to highlight all of the good activities that our schools do. We have introduced online enrolment for our public schools, which has made life easier for families. I am also pleased to announce two policies, for gifted and talented students and for students with learning difficulties, to ensure that parents of these students have access to the most up-to-date information and research.

All these initiatives go to the heart of the government’s commitment to informing and engaging our parent and carer communities. In the coming years, I plan to build on these and to continue to ensure that our schools are the best across the country.

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