Page 2799 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 16 August 2017
build teacher capability to implement the Australian curriculum in related subjects. Teacher professional learning in this way will also improve teacher understanding and skill in STEM teaching and learning.
Our city needs both teachers with expertise in these subjects as well as teachers with expertise in teaching these subjects. I have noted with interest some of the work that the University of Canberra has been doing on this issue, including the appointment of Processor Tom Lowrie, a well-respected leader in mathematics education, visual reasoning and spatial ability as well as information graphics and dynamic imagery. I look forward to working with the UC in the future on this important work.
Additionally, the government is investing in modern learning environments so that our teachers and students have what they need to teach and learn these subjects. The 2017-18 budget commits $85 million over four years to school infrastructure upgrades, some of which will be used to refresh, for example, science labs. Additionally, the Centre for Innovation and Learning at Caroline Chisholm School, a $5.896 million capital works project, is due to open in 2018, and the government will bring forward in a future budget funding for its commitment to an ACT academy of coding and cyber skills.
There are already some great examples where the government is supporting innovation and excellence in teaching STEM subjects. At Melrose high teacher Geoff McNamara has established unique student-mentor partnerships and learning opportunities that support excellence in STEM learning, and many other schools are taking up the initiative to do the same.
MS CODY: Minister, how is the government supporting students to excel in learning in science and other STEM subjects?
MS BERRY: The work the government is doing to support teachers in science and other STEM subjects is of course a vital part of supporting student learning. I outlined in response to the last question some of the great initiatives that are underway in our schools, as well as the government’s investment in infrastructure and programs like the Centre for Innovation and Learning and the Academy of Coding and Cyber Skills.
There are a range of initiatives focused on ensuring that students have boundary-crossing capabilities, such as critical thinking and problem solving, as well as developing core knowledge and skills that are essential for lifelong learning and the future of work. In preschools the early years learning framework embeds support for children to develop dispositions and skills such as curiosity, problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating.
In our primary schools, inquiry-based learning approaches involve posing questions, making observations, conducting research, collecting and analysing data, and creating solutions. A number of schools have also established maker spaces to strengthen their focus on project-based collaboration and problem solving.