Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 892 ..
equal opportunity, and that is why we will continue to properly fund our public education system.
MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Early Childhood Development, Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (5.15): The ACT government is committed to making sure that Canberra kids get the best possible education. We continually invest in Canberra schools, and this budget is no different. The 2020-21 budget provides more than $1.14 billion in funding for education in the ACT. This includes funding for public and non-government schools and is a three per cent increase on the actual spend in the 2019-20 financial year.
In addition, this budget continues the ACT government’s significant investments in school infrastructure, providing $145 million in capital works funding in the 2020-21 financial year and more than $400 million over the forward estimates. This infrastructure program includes new public schools, school expansions and facility upgrades. This investment will ensure that our public school infrastructure keeps up with our growing population and that older public schools continue to be comfortable environments to work and learn in.
The ACT government invested in a number of new initiatives for education in the 2021 budget: three-year-old preschool; teacher librarians; as well as new and expanded schools in Gungahlin. We are increasing the number of weeks available to priority families for three-year-old preschool from 40 to 48 weeks per year. This brings the program in line with typical attendance for early childhood education and care, rather than it being based on a school year.
We have funded 50 scholarships for public school teachers to do their master of education, specialising in teacher librarianship. At the moment we do not have enough qualified teacher librarians and these scholarships will mean that more teachers become qualified for the important role in these schools. These scholarships are delivering on the election commitments to increase the number of qualified teacher librarians in public schools.
Mr Pettersson has already detailed a number of the investments in schools in the Gungahlin community, but our investment in school infrastructure for Gungahlin, one of the fastest growing regions in the country, shows our commitment to investing in infrastructure to support this growing population.
This budget provides additional funding to support the delivery of a new high school in Kenny. This school will provide 800 places for years 7 to 10 students in east Gungahlin and will be open for the 2023 school year. The budget also includes funding to start work on a new high school in Taylor and an expansion to Margaret Hendry School to cater for demand in north Gungahlin. The high school will have 800 places for students in years 7 to 10 and will open for the 2024 school year. These investments are ensuring that every child has a place in a great local public school. As our population grows, the ACT government will continue to invest in education, from early childhood all the way through to adulthood.