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Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Page: 33


Senator HUTCHINS (2:22 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Carr, representing the Minister for Education. Can the minister inform the Senate about the My School website? How successful has the site been? What role does it play in the government’s wider agenda for school education? How does it relate to the government’s objective of increasing quality across the education system? How will parents benefit from My School? What role will it play in shaping the future development of our schools?


Senator CARR (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) —I thank Senator Hutchins for his question. The My School website, launched last week, has been a tremendous success. I know all senators here would welcome that. My School is an integral part of the education revolution. It is an integral part of this government’s drive—

Honourable senators interjecting—


The PRESIDENT —Order! Debate across the chamber at this time is completely disorderly. I am entitled to hear the answer being given by Senator Carr.


Senator CARR —My School is an integral part of our drive to deliver the best possible education to every child in every school in Australia. That drive includes unprecedented investments in school capital, in refurbishing every school around the country, in computers and in training centres. In fact, we have almost doubled the amount of money being devoted to school education.

My School will give parents, teachers and all interested Australians a better understanding of what their schools are doing and what they are doing well. It is also about giving them a better understanding of what needs to be improved. My School is all about transparency and accountability. That does not mean just for principals or for teachers. As Sharryn Brownlee from the Central Coast Parents and Citizens Association said in the Daily Telegraph yesterday, this will shine a light on bureaucrats and politicians to ensure that they fund schools to deliver education to kids. This government is already answering that challenge. We are dedicating more than $2 billion to increase support for disadvantaged schools, to invest in literacy and numeracy and to lift teaching quality. It is essential that people have confidence in our schools, and My School is— (Time expired)


Senator HUTCHINS —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister inform the Senate what kind of information is available on the My School website? What are the topics covered? What are the government’s plans for the development of the site? What additional information might be provided in future?


Senator CARR (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) —The information on the website is comprehensive. It tells parents about national testing, about achievements in year 12, about the schools in the schools’ own words, about the levels of advantage in the school, about attendance, about teacher numbers and about the number of non-teaching staff. It compares each school to schools around the country that serve similar students and it enables each school to see how it is going against the national average. In the future, we are determined to add information about the amount of funding each school receives from all sources, including the Commonwealth. On the weekend, the Prime Minister announced that My School will also eventually include the results of surveys that measure how parents see their school and how satisfied they are with it. This is a new initiative to help parents have greater— (Time expired)


Senator HUTCHINS —Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister advise the Senate how the My School website has been received by the wider community? What level of interest has it attracted? Does the site enjoy widespread support?


Senator CARR (Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) —I can say without reservation that the community’s enthusiasm for My School has been overwhelming. The latest figures from the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority show that the website has had 1.4 million visits and 157 million hits since its launch. It is a shame that the opposition do not support this fantastic initiative. They are divided on My School, as they are on everything else. The Leader of the Opposition admits that the parents of this country deserve this information, but the education spokesman for the opposition has called the website a white elephant.

Honourable senators interjecting—


The PRESIDENT —Order! The time for debating this is at the end of question time, not now.


Senator CARR —What we do know is that those opposite have fought every inch of the way to destroy the legislation that will allow us to make funding information available on the My School website. The truth is that those opposite— (Time expired)