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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 06 Hansard (Tuesday, 6 June 2017) . . Page.. 1918 ..

Education—public schools

MR PETTERSSON: My question is to the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development. How is the government making sure that all children in the ACT have a place in their local public school?

MS BERRY: I thank Mr Pettersson for his question. The ACT government delivers high quality public education for every student who seeks a place. Every child deserves a great education and the life chances that flow from it, and the government is committed to making sure that this is available to all children across the ACT.

The Education Directorate undertakes rolling five-year enrolment projections based on analysis of changing demographics, suburban renewal and greenfield development. This analysis shows that the enrolment growth in ACT public schools is among the fastest in Australia: and the community clearly supports public education if school enrolments are anything to go by. More than 46,000 students are enrolled in public schools, two-thirds of all school enrolments.

Keeping our commitment to make sure that there is a place for every child who seeks one requires the government to work and invest in that. The government is responding with a strong investment in new and expanded schools and modern teaching and learning environments and, as the government has already announced, it has provided more than $115 million in new capital works so that we can provide better schools now and into the future.

MR PETTERSSON: What investment is being made in school expansions for areas with growing enrolments?

MS BERRY: Within this $115 million, which the ACT government has already announced in new capital works, building on works in progress totalling more than $118 million, there is dedicated investment to address areas of our city that we know are growing.

Public school enrolments in the north of Canberra have grown by 53 per cent over the past five years. Everybody knows that Gungahlin is a key growth region. That is why this government will expand capacity at Harrison School, Gold Creek School, Neville Bonner Primary School and Palmerston District Primary School. The government has also decided to expand the scope of the new North Gungahlin Primary School in Taylor with additional capacity, and playing fields that will be available to the wider community as families move in to this area. In total, $24 million is invested in expanding schools in Gungahlin.

In west Belconnen, $5.9 million is being provided to finish a major refurbishment of Belconnen High School, delivering a refurbished school with contemporary, best practice design for better learning. Members can rest assured, because public schools right across the ACT will benefit from $85 million for new learning spaces, toilets and change rooms, garden and horticultural facilities, heating and cooling upgrades, and energy-efficient improvements.

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