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Deputy Prime Minister discusses Schools Assistance Bill.

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The Hon Julia Gillard MP

Minister for Education. Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Minister for Social Inclusion. Deputy Prime Minister 01 December, 2008


830AM Monday

ABC Adelaide Interview

ISSUES: Schools Assistance Bill

DAVID BEVAN: Julia Gillard, Christopher Pyne tells our listeners that under the National Curriculum

Guidelines that are going to go through the Federal Parliament this week, smaller schools or if you like,

schools such as the Steiner system, or the IB or Montessori system, they will all be disadvantaged.

JULIA GILLARD: Christopher Pyne is simply telling you things that are completely untrue and which he

should know to be untrue if he’s following the education debate. The National Curriculum Board, which is

writing the national curriculum, is independent of Government and it includes representatives of all States

and Territories and all school systems. And I’ve said publicly on more than one occasion that the National

Curriculum Board is aiming for a world-class curriculum that will drive results and quality up in this country.

And that we will work with those who provide curriculum in different ways to ensure that there is a world-class curriculum being the taught, but the teaching methods that those schools use are still used. And of

course we will work with those who provide the International Baccalaureate, which is a recognised

international curriculum. And Christopher Pyne, if he’s ever read a speech, ever read a press release, ever

spent five minutes thinking about education, should know that.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: He says it will take away flexibility. He’s mentioned not just the International

Baccalaureate, which obviously operates in both the private and government sector, but the Montessori

system, ditto, and the Steiner system, and he says many Christian schools and there are many smaller

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Christian schools in Adelaide and I’m sure in other major capital cities. What flexibility is there in a national

‘one size fits all’ curriculum?

JULIA GILLARD: It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ curriculum in the sense of dictating what should be taught on a

particular day at a particular time. This is a curriculum being drawn up by experts. It’s published framing

papers to widespread applause across the educational community. It’s working with all schools, all school

systems and all school types to make sure that this happens. Christopher Pyne is just playing cheap politics

with this and the problem with his cheap politics is it’s going to be really expensive for private schools. He is

committing the Liberal Party to stopping schools around this country getting the benefit of $28 billion of

government funds. He is on a path to ensure non-government schools in this country go to the next school

year without the resources they need to keep going, because he’s on this political campaign about curriculum

when he knows it’s being drawn up by experts. It’s not my curriculum. It’s not Labor’s curriculum. It’s a

national curriculum being worked on by experts in a highly collaborative consultative way with all school


DAVID BEVAN: So you’ll be able to send the money through to state schools? It’ll largely be the private

schools that will miss out if Christopher Pyne gets his way. That’s what you’re telling our listeners?

JULIA GILLARD: Oh, absolutely. If Christopher Pyne gets his way, non-government schools next year will not

have the government funds they rely on to keep their schools in operation. If Christopher Pyne has his way, every non-government school in this country will miss out on the Federal Government’s funds when it starts

next year. Those funds are critical to the operation of those schools

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: That’s quite a threat on your behalf, isn’t it, because I’m sure you could find a way of

making those funds available while you continue to negotiate?

JULIA GILLARD: No, we can’t. We’ve got to get this appropriation bill through the Parliament—it’s a Budget

bill. I can’t appropriate government money for this purpose without the legislation passing the Parliament.

DAVID BEVAN: The second issue, the second sticking point, is the requirement that private schools make

public all of the sources of funding. Christopher Pyne says that’s unfair.

JULIA GILLARD: Well, I believe in transparency, and what amazes me is the Liberal Party in government

used to talk a lot about transparency. It never got anything effective done. We are entering a new era of

transparency where every school, government and non-government, will be subject to the same transparency

criteria. We want people to know the needs of school populations. We want people to know how schools are

going on objective measures, like the national testing results and Year 12 retention. We want people to know

the resources that are being brought to bear. We want people to be able to compare similar schools. And the

reason for that is if you compared schools that are similar in terms of the student populations and you saw one

school going streaks ahead compared with the other, then you’d be able to say, ‘Well, what’s the difference? Is

it the quality of the teacher? Is it the quality of the leadership? Is it the amount of resources that are being

brought to bear?’ And then if we had that information, we, the adults, should do what is our responsibility and

fix the thing that is holding the kids in the underperforming school back. I believe in this passionately. This

nation has failed kids from poorer families by leaving them in underperforming schools for too long.

Christopher Pyne wants to continue that. He wants us to continue to go into international testing with kids not

meeting minimum benchmarks and with those kids being from poorer backgrounds and do nothing about it.

Our transparency measures are about a new era of school information and then new resources for

disadvantaged schools to make a difference for those kids. And there is nothing we are asking of the private

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school sector that we are not also asking of the government school sector.

DAVID BEVAN: Deputy Prime Minister, Federal Education Minister, Julia Gillard, thanks for talking to us.

JULIA GILLARD: Thank you very much.

MATTHEW ABRAHAM: It’s an interesting debate we’re having and we’ll continue to have and to South

Australians at the centre of it. Julia Gillard—Deputy Prime Minister, Federal Minister for Education—and

Chris Pyne, of course, Federal Member for Sturt in her shadow on education.


Media Contact:

Deputy Prime Minister's Press Office: 02 6277 7758

Non-media queries: 1300 363 079

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