Page 2927 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 6 August 2008

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A student’s overall wellbeing is critical to their success and achievement of successful academic outcomes. A key government initiative in recent times is the $14.6 million investment in providing 16 additional pastoral care coordinators/teachers in our high schools, one for every public high school. These pastoral care coordinators commenced at the start of the 2008 school year and are providing a range of pastoral care and student welfare initiatives for ACT public high school students and their families. The pastoral care coordinators are coordinating whole school student pastoral care programs that take a personalised approach to supporting student wellbeing. They also have a role in supporting staff to promote and increase student attendance and engagement with learning and, ultimately, their connection to school.

The government has also allocated over $3.4 million over four years to the moving forward initiative, which has delivered an additional eight teachers as career advisers, one for each college. This will ensure that students have the very best advice and support in making decisions about their post-school education or work pathways.

The ACT government has also been a national leader in advancing physical activity levels of school-age children. Three specialist physical education teachers have been appointed over the next three years to strengthen the capacity of public primary school teachers to deliver quality physical education experiences for their students. The ACT government provided $1.2 million in the second appropriation bill to support this commitment. This year we instigated the physical activity challenge for the first time and set up the Children’s Physical Activity Foundation. This has proved a very highly popular strategy for engaging students in physical activity, and more than 85 schools and 12,500 school students are involved.

The 21st century teaching and learning environment, though, must keep pace with the context of our rapidly changing technological environment. To ensure that we maintain our position as the leading jurisdiction in the provision of information and communication technology services for schools, the ACT is leading the way in providing schools with widespread access to fast, efficient and up-to-date ICT environments.

In 2006, the ACT government committed $20 million over four years to the smart schools—smart students initiative. We supplemented that announcement in this year’s budget with a further $7.7 million, taking the total investment in ICT in schools as part of this initiative to $27.7 million. I am pleased to advise that this initiative is already well on the way to improving the capacity of teachers and students in public schools to access high speed connectivity across their schools, across the territory, across Australia and across the world. This includes ensuring that colleges and secondary schools will be connected using fibre optic cable and that primary schools are upgraded using a combination of fibre-fixed cabling or wireless connectivity. This project is putting ACT public schools at the leading edge of bandwidth provision, both nationally and internationally. These improvements aim to enhance student learning and deliver to students the necessary knowledge and skills to thrive in an information-rich world.

The Stanhope government understands that improving the educational outcomes for ACT students is a more complex task than simply reducing class sizes in the

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