Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 25 August 2009) . . Page.. 3585 ..
key way of ensuring that the old public-private debate is over is to ensure that the non-government sector is fully independent and fairly funded.
To give a practical example of this fair funding, the government has created in this year’s budget a $4 million non-government school equity fund. Specifically, this 2009-10 budget initiative will increase funding for students with special education needs across the non-government school sector. It will also, importantly, further assist students in non-government schools with identified learning needs and students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.
The second appropriation earlier in the last financial year delivered a $2.1 million payment to all parent groups and associations, in both government and non-government schools, with a one-off grant of $15,000 to each of those associations, together with a grant of $1,500 for preschool parent associations in both government and non-government school sectors. This initiative has given all school communities the autonomy and independence to determine how best to spend their grant.
In the area of information and communication technology, the government has also invested $2.5 million to further increase the ability of non-government primary schools to improve their access to the latest ICT infrastructure, including new smart boards and computers. A similar program operates in the government school sector. This means that all ACT non-government schools with primary students will receive at least $5,000 per school under the program, and the remaining funds will be allocated to non-government schools on a needs basis.
To ensure that our friends and colleagues in the non-government sector can provide the best education possible, ACT Labor has increased funding for non-government schools by over 35 per cent since coming to office.
There are many other practical examples of how we are working in collaboration with the non-government school sector for the good of all ACT children. For example, I recently agreed to a request from the Catholic Education Office, the Association of Independent Schools and the Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Schools to include non-government schools in a review of leading practice in curriculum and pedagogy for the range of students with disabilities in the ACT school system. I look forward to further enhancing shared professional development programs within all ACT schools.
Another example of this collaboration between government, Catholic and independent schools is in the area of physical education. As part of the minister’s physical activity challenge, over 13,000 students from 47 ACT primary schools across the government and non-government sectors participated in the inaugural challenge in 2008. We funded the Children’s Physical Activity Foundation to provide grants for sporting equipment and to assist in the delivery of programs in both government and non-government schools. In addition, government and non-government schools will finalise the implementation of the preschool to year 10 ACT curriculum framework “every chance to learn” by the end of 2010. The structure and nature of this framework allows non-government schools to tailor a wide range of teaching strategies to the culture and ethos of individual schools.