Page 548 - Week 02 - Thursday, 16 February 2017

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does not miss out on the vital legal advice that we received in our general meetings. I ask all in this place to respect the role of the scrutiny committee in that it is our only check and balance outside the government and political processes on the bills that come to this place and ensure that any trespasses on human rights are justified.

Future of education

Ministerial statement

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Sport and Recreation) (10.04): ACT Labor made a very important commitment to our community before the election last year. We undertook to develop a strategy for the future of education in this city and today I am pleased to get work started on that commitment.

The government comes at this work with a fundamental belief that every child deserves a great education and the life chances which flow from it. We believe in a diverse and creative school system which embraces difference in our children, empowers teachers and educators and fosters excellence. This is the kind of system which successive Labor governments have nurtured in the ACT.

Since my appointment as education and early childhood development minister I have stated many times my passionate support for a diverse and inclusive education system. The success of this system is reflected in social and emotional learning and school retention—in young people ready for what the world throws at them—alongside strong performance in tests. For example, the fact that 85 per cent of ACT students are completing year 12 and around 90 per cent of them go into employment or further study are key markers of a system doing its job.

On literacy and numeracy, we are rightly proud of the high standard ACT schools have traditionally set in national and international testing. But more recently the improvements in other Australian school systems have in a number of ways brought them into line with ours.

We also know that in the early years our performance is similar to other jurisdictions, with only 78 per cent of children in the ACT developmentally ready when they start school. The research is clear that success in school, particularly for disadvantaged children, is founded in quality early childhood education. This is also a trend I have seen over many years working in the early childhood education and care arena, and it is something I see in my own community. It is borne out by a growing evidence base and it has been a theme of my conversations with school leaders, teachers, parents and other community leaders since I became minister.

This is something we must work to improve. We cannot tolerate the situation where the life circumstances of a child showing up at school mean we know whether they will succeed or not. Importantly, there are great stories, such as our Koori preschools, where government-funded access to quality early childhood education and care can make a big difference in people’s lives.

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