Page 2517 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 6 August 2013

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the more than 17,000 students in Catholic schools, their parents/guardians and teachers.

The announcement by the Catholic school system means that Catholic and independent schools now join with New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and, of course, the ACT to commit to a new system of better supporting our schools and our students. By supporting this agreement, the Catholic systemic and independent schools, along with the ACT government are ensuring long-term improvements for every student in every school in the territory.

Currently the ACT has more than 68,000 students enrolled in its schools and roughly 20 per cent are within the Catholic system. We know the Catholic system has around 13 per cent of the territory’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander students and also around 13 per cent of the territory’s students with special needs. These students, too, will benefit from the increased support of the better schools plan.

With all sections of the ACT education sector now committed to these reforms, it means a fundamental shift in our thinking on education. It is more than just a simple question of how much money—it is about how we go about teaching and supporting our students. While Australia has good schools, our performance has been declining, and that is the benefit of the better schools reform. There is no room for complacency, and I want all ACT schools to continue to lead the way. On this the Catholic Education Commission is in full agreement, and with its support for better schools, we can achieve all that we set out to do.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, how will our schools—Catholic, independent and government—benefit from these reforms now that all three sectors will be part of the better schools plan?

MS BURCH: Our schools benefit from these reforms in a number of ways. In simple terms, the better schools plan will give every student the opportunity to reach their full potential. Members will be pleased to note that total public investment in ACT schools will be around $5 billion over the six years from 2014. This is a significant investment in the future of this city and our country.

This means an extra $190 million for ACT schools. This extra resourcing will see all ACT schools funded to at least the level of the schooling resource standard by 2019. The Australian government has also committed to grow its school education spending by 4.7 per cent from 2014 into 2015 and throughout the agreement. This extra funding is great news for all schools and will deliver reform in the areas we know drive better student outcomes.

Students and their families will see continued improvement in teacher quality throughout the ACT by ensuring that all teachers are registered by the Teacher Quality Institute, using the Australian professional standards for teachers. In classrooms around the city, students will benefit from the full delivery of the Australian curriculum in ACT schools.

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