Page 378 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 14 February 2017

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MS FITZHARRIS: As I have noted, action was taken to verify datasets specifically for the 2015-16 series of quarterly reports but since then the system-wide review will look into all processes to do with data and data reporting.

Schools—2017 school year

MS CODY: My question is to the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development. Minister, can you update members on the start of the 2017 school year, please.

MS BERRY: I thank Ms Cody for the question. This is a very important question. Many here will know firsthand that school has now gone back, and I am sure that any of you with young children now have your afternoons and evenings full of chattering conversation about the school day’s activities and what is going on at school. It is a really exciting time for many, and I can report that the start to the 2017 year has gone very well in our schools.

On 30 January, I started my day visiting Palmerston District Primary School to welcome kindergarten students starting their first day of school. I enjoyed meeting parents and carers as well as their children as they began their education journey into big school and beyond. The first day at school can be a nervous but exciting moment for parents as much as students, so it was nice to be able to meet with them and share in that experience.

This year across the whole of the ACT’s school system, approximately 75,000 students are studying across our 132 schools: 87 government and 45 non-government schools. This includes the 4,500 preschoolers who started their school experience within our schools. In our government schools specifically, we have nearly 25,000 primary school level students, around 10,500 high school students and over 6,500 college students. Our schools are diverse and welcoming.

I was also able to hand out the new edition of the popular guide Starting school: a guide for families, which provides some useful and important information for parents and carers as their children begin formal schooling. I am confident that parents and carers will find the advice and practical tips in this guide useful to help them and their children prepare for those first few weeks of preschool and kindergarten.

MS CODY: Minister, what support is available for students and families who are attending school?

MS BERRY: School communities are a great source of support for new students and families. The ACT government also supports low income families by providing additional funding to individual students and schools. The student resource allocation funding provides for an additional means-based loading of $10.6 million and the school equity program around $280,000.

We also have a range of other grants to assist students that need additional support. The secondary bursary scheme provides an annual one-off payment to low income

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