Page 3229 - Week 10 - Thursday, 17 September 2015

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school. It is expected that by the end of this financial year, and since 2012, $70 million will have been spent on improving and modernising Canberra public schools.

I have identified a number of priorities for the Education and Training Directorate which, in addition to those I have just mentioned, include the future planning of public school facilities through defined school master plans. These priorities align with the development of a strategic asset management plan that is in line with the ACT government’s strategic asset management plan.

Always at the forefront of planning is ensuring that decisions relating to the upgrade and maintenance of existing schools and construction of our new schools meet community needs and expectations. The school modernisation strategy involves a policy framework that outlines infrastructure plans for education and training needs for the next decade. The approach ensures that facilities in all public schools are safe, efficient and meet the needs of teachers, parents and, indeed, the local community.

To ensure that a coordinated approach is taken to school planning, ETD works closely with the Environment and Planning Directorate and the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate to ensure the impact of urban infill and greenfields development on existing suburbs is considered. A number of areas in the ACT are subject to urban infill, placing demand on existing public school infrastructure. Evidence of school enrolment pressures is analysed to determine the likely trends and solutions explored and put into place.

The directorate’s master planning process captures local and regional information and an ongoing program to provide high quality learning environments for students continues. The process assists in future asset management and service delivery. The government’s investment in infrastructure extends beyond the school infrastructure.

We are ensuring that all our students and staff are connected through modern IT services. We are investing additional resources into school information and communication technology infrastructure to ensure that digital systems and infrastructure are modern and reliable and support the provision of contemporary learning and teaching—for example, through the provision of wireless access to high speed networks. This investment totals nearly $38 million over four years. Indeed, as the schools roll out Google apps for education, I have seen the majority of our public schools connected to that. I have been in the classroom and seen the benefits and the ease with which students and teachers exchange information.

We continue to support the ACT Teacher Quality Institute because this ACT Labor government believes in our students. We continue to invest significantly to make sure that there are new schools and refurbished and well-maintained older schools to suit everybody’s needs.

There has also been mention of schools as community hubs. I encourage people to go to the Education and Training website where we have gone through, school by school, and assessed what facilities are open to the community so the community recognises that public schools are a community asset as well. I encourage community organisations to go to ETD’s website where they can access on a school-by-school

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