Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 February 2018) . . Page.. 353 ..
At the last count we had input from 4,673 individuals and heard from an average of 146 people each week. Forty-four per cent of the people we heard from were students; 38 per cent were from schools, including teachers, boards and school communities; and 11 per cent of the input was from parents and carers.
I was very keen that the voices of our young people be central to this conversation, and I have heard them loud and clear. The student congress have met regularly and talked about what it is like to learn in our schools, and they have involved their friends in this conversation. Through the process I have been welcomed into year 11 and 12 classrooms to hear firsthand about the issues that are on the minds of our young people as they prepare for further learning, work or both. We have heard the ideas of young people through an ideas igloo video booth set up in primary schools, community fetes and end-of-year celebrations and graduations. There have also been numerous drawings and individual submissions from children and young people about the things that are important to them.
I am happy to say that we have heard from over 2,000 students through this process. The student feedback has consistently shown concern for the wellbeing and support needs of their peers. We have had drawings of a fully wheelchair accessible school and playground. The issues of young people’s mental health, bullying and isolation have featured strongly, echoing concerns about this issue across Australia.
Students came forward with lots of different ways that we could support them as they journey through our education system. All the conversations and the feedback the government have been given have provided us with a very clear sense of what is important to our community, young people, teachers and education experts.
I started this conversation by emphasising that equity underpins the government’s approach to education. Every child deserves a great education and the life chances that flow from it. Every child starts life with the potential for great things. So our education system must support all children to achieve their potential. I am happy to say that the community resoundingly agrees.
Equity in education and educational outcomes is a core belief, value and commitment for the ACT community. Teachers know that equity and excellence go hand in hand. They have told us things like, “Education is a leveller. It can reduce the equity gap. We need to make sure our education system is the best for all students, to ensure all students can reach their full potential.” They have told us: “Our curriculum should not just acknowledge but celebrate diversity.” Students are telling us that we need “to ensure that everyone gets the same opportunities” and that we must “allow everyone to have a fair and equal chance at a proper education”.
One clever primary school student noted, “Education is important because it gives kids a job in the future and a better shot at life.” Often, for students, the importance of equity was expressed as the understanding that some kids need extra help. Parents often express their commitment to equity through the need to provide additional support to students who are struggling. They agreed with the government’s emphasis, saying things like, “It comes back to the conversation about how and why we value