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Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Page: 7139

Schools


Ms SAFFIN (Page) (14:41): My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Minister, would you please update the House on legislation to implement the National Plan for School Improvement? What will this mean for students in schools across Australia?


Mr GARRETT (Kingsford SmithMinister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) (14:41): I thank the member for Page for her question. This government is about making sure that we do things which will make a difference to Australia, bringing in big reforms that will improve our country now and for the future, whether it is a price on carbon, the National Broadband Network or a national disability insurance scheme. And today the parliament has passed the Australian Education Bill to put in place for the first time ever a needs based funding system to support school education in our nation. This is a very big, very important day in the history of education in Australia. It is a proud day for this government to see this reform now in law. I want to place on record my appreciation for all the work that has been done by officials here and officials at the state level and by the education sector itself.

I know on this side of the House we have always understood how important it is to provide additional investment in school education to kids anywhere in the country, no matter where they live and no matter how much money their parents earn. For the first time we have a needs based funding system. For the first time we want to provide additional investments across the support for education on the things that can make a difference in a school.

I am asked by the member: what will this mean for students? The fact is, it will mean focused, targeted support in things like literacy in the early years of primary school. It will mean that kids that need special support, if they have a special need or a disability, will get it and will get it in a way that makes a difference to their learning. It means that principals will have more autonomy in schools to make decisions on what happens. It means we will have better training for teachers, the most important people in the classroom when the kids come to school. And it means that we have a national plan for school improvement, agreed by state and non-government school systems, that is focused on getting us back into the top five performing nations in education by 2025. This government does not want to see a single child left behind. The only way that we can do that is by making sure that we invest in education in a way that is targeted and focused on the things that make a difference.

They have crawled into a small ball on the other side of the House, but when I am asked what this means for students, it is now important for the premiers of states that have not yet signed up—the Premier of Victoria, the door is now open and that is welcome news; the Premier of Queensland, with some $3.8 billion of additional investment ready; the Premier of Western Australia; and, of course, the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. At the end of the day this government and this party understand that a fair funding system means that every young Australian can reach their full potential and contribute to the great nation that is ours and the great challenges that we have in the future.