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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2021) . . Page.. 1984 ..

Assembly standing committee inquiries into the management and minimisation of bullying in ACT public schools; youth mental health; and standardised testing in ACT schools. Currently there is a committee inquiry into the management of ACT school infrastructure.

On top of these reviews, every single one of our ACT public schools goes through an independent school improvement review every five years, using the nationally recognised best practice national school improvement tool. These reviews are all publicly available on school websites.

These reviews show that the ACT’s public schools are consistently performing at high levels, particularly in the areas of school culture, expert teaching teams, effective pedagogical practices, and school community partnerships.

The Canberra Liberals have attempted to criticise the performance of the system but suggest that they support teachers. They cannot do that. What they do not understand is that public education is teachers. Teachers and school leaders in our public schools know that the work that they do every single day makes a difference in the lives of Canberra children as well as their families. Canberrans can be proud of our high-performing public school system and our hardworking teachers.

The ACT government is committed to continuing to improve school education for Canberra’s children and young people. We do not need the Liberals’ review to do that.

I am really happy that the light has finally come on for the Canberra Liberals regarding equity. I would like to welcome the Canberra Liberals’ acknowledgement that equity is a key driver of educational outcomes. Research repeatedly shows that excellence and equity in education are intertwined. Across the world, an explicit focus on equity is one of the three common components of all the top-performing school systems.

Equity means that students are supported according to their individual needs and have the opportunity to achieve, regardless of their circumstances. That means we must recognise that students have different backgrounds and different starting points in their learning. Some students may need more support to achieve their best.

As well as being backed by evidence, we know that equity matters to our community. During the consultations for the government’s Future of Education strategy, we heard from students, parents and teachers that equity needs to underpin every decision that we make about education.

The Canberra Liberals have a history of dismissing the importance of equity in education. When the ACT government invested in Chromebooks for all public high school and college students, they continually implied that it was a waste of money. The Canberra Liberals did not care that doing that provided equal access to all students, regardless of their circumstances; relieved the financial burden for families; and meant that teachers could get on with their jobs without having to troubleshoot across a number of different devices. When Labor, at the last election, announced a commitment to trial free breakfasts and lunches, the Canberra Liberals made jokes

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