Page 3937 - Week 10 - Thursday, 28 August 2008

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Leave granted.

MR BARR: I am very pleased to present to the Assembly the interim report on performance in Indigenous education for 2008. As members will recall, a brief half-year report covering the period January through June is submitted annually at around this time. A more comprehensive full-year report is submitted in the first quarter of the following year.

The report is presented against the strategic areas for action in the key indicators report on overcoming Indigenous disadvantage. The report that I present today covers the period from January through June 2008. Mr Speaker, 2008 saw the continued implementation of a number of ACT government budget initiatives. These include the Koori preschool program operating on five sites across Canberra and targeted support to year 4 Indigenous students who are in the lowest 20 per cent in the year 3 ACTAP results, which has now been extended to include kindergarten to year 4 students.

During this reporting period, the number of Indigenous students enrolled in preschool education increased by 22 per cent from 93, as reported in the February preschool census, to 113 at the end of May 2008. A new model basing Indigenous education officers in a high school and supporting all schools in one or more clusters was introduced in 2007 and is continuing.

Schools provided opportunities to engage families of Indigenous students by conducting activities to view and discuss the national apology to the stolen generations. In addition to the progress described above, the government allocated funds under the 2007 second appropriation bill to develop and implement a principal leadership program on Indigenous education for all public school principals and school leaders. This initiative is progressing well, with all school principals engaged in discussions to identify areas of need and ongoing activities that will support the learning of Indigenous students. Two very successful leadership conferences have now been held. Principal attendance was strong, as was participation from all school deputy principals. In addition to the principal leadership program, further funds from the second appropriation bill were allocated to devise the Indigenous student aspirations initiative to create opportunities for Indigenous students to identify their career aspirations.

The Department of Education and Training continues to explore ways in which to progress recommendations contained in national reports that are systemic, and it seeks to accelerate the pace of change by engaging Indigenous students and young people in their learning. As the report I have presented today shows, the Koori preschool program has provided greater opportunities for Indigenous children to participate in early childhood education.

The work of teachers and support staff at the Koori preschool has resulted in the establishment of partnerships with other agencies to assess and identify potential difficulties that might impact on student learning achievements. The work of the teachers and the Indigenous home school liaison officers in the Koori preschool program has contributed to the increase in the number of children attending preschool.

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