Page 50 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 13 December 2016

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The government has committed $85 million in capital upgrades to our public primary and high schools and colleges. This money will pay for heating and cooling upgrades, energy efficiency improvements, extensions to existing classrooms, new classrooms, refurbished toilets and change rooms, and other projects that will be identified in line with schools’ needs.

In building new schools, we will focus on the needs of the growing communities in Molonglo and Gungahlin. Additional capacity will also be delivered to support growing demand at Gungahlin schools, building on funding in the 2016 budget. Every child and teacher deserves school facilities to support them to get the best start in life, and Labor is making these investments.

MR STEEL: Minister, how will the government’s infrastructure investment be supported by policy settings for the future of education in the ACT?

MS BERRY: Alongside quality infrastructure, government policy that drives great education is perhaps equally important to ensuring great outcomes for students. We have a great education system in the ACT. It has given many Canberrans a good start in life. But, like anything, the ideas that underpin it need constant improvement. Its statutory frameworks are now over 10 years old. Labor sees this as an opportunity for our community to reflect and consider our current system, its strengths and areas where we can adapt, strengthen and improve how we provide education. That is why we have committed to progressing a discussion paper on the future of education in the ACT.

We will work closely with the community—teachers and school leaders, parents, students, unions, local communities—through a consultative process leading to an ACT-wide blueprint for education that will support the needs of the next generation of learners. Among other things, we will consider the role and relevance of data like PISA, TIMSS and NAPLAN that we have heard a lot about over the past fortnight, and how they can support improved student outcomes. We will consider approaches to teaching and how our teachers can be supported to grow their professional practice and deliver improved methods in the classroom. We will consider the diversity of the ACT community.

This should and will influence where we target our resources because all children, regardless of their social and economic backgrounds should have an equal opportunity to get the best outcome from their education. If ever we needed a reminder on how important it is to address inequality in education, recently the Mitchell Institute released a paper highlighting how socioeconomic status is correlated with early childhood development. Extensive policy and strategic development in both school and early childhood education will inform a range of initiatives in these areas.

MR PETTERSSON: My question to the minister is: how will the government’s infrastructure investment be supported by a workforce providing excellent teaching to ACT children?

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