Build­ing Bet­ter Schools: North­ern Ter­ri­tory

“We want to make sure that we’ve got qual­ity in­fra­struc­ture to be able to sup­port the learn­ing, teach­ing, grow­ing and suc­cess for our stu­dents.” The four year, $56.4 mil­lion Build­ing Bet­ter Schools Ini­tia­tive al­lows school com­mu­ni­ties to pri­ori­tise their

The Australian Education Reporter - - CONTENTS - EMMA DAVIES

THE 2018 North­ern Ter­ri­tory Bud­get in­cludes $14.1 mil­lion for the Build­ing Bet­ter Schools Ini­tia­tive, which Ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Se­lena Uibo said was a chance for schools to pri­ori­tise for their in­di­vid­ual needs – no strings at­tached.

“It’s not dic­tated by the Gov­ern­ment at all. It’s an op­por­tu­nity to be able to fo­cus and pri­ori­tise those in­fra­struc­ture spends for [in­di­vid­ual] schools to sup­port their stu­dents and their teach­ers in pro­vid­ing qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion for our Ter­ri­tory kids,” Ms Uibo said.

54 schools re­ceived fund­ing in Round 1, with Round 2 see­ing a fur­ther 36 Ter­ri­tory Gov­ern­ment Schools and 9 non-gov­ern­ment schools re­ceiv­ing $300,000 fund­ing to un­der­take projects in­clud­ing new play­grounds, shade struc­tures, Fam­i­lies as First Teach­ers fa­cil­ity up­grades, and class­room re­fur­bish­ments.

“Every school over the 4 years is en­ti­tled to

$300,000 and that’s re­gard­less of Gov­ern­ment sta­tus; if they’re a non-gov­ern­ment school they’re also en­ti­tled to ap­ply for that in­fra­struc­ture spend,” she said.

While the money is a frac­tion of the $135 mil­lion bud­geted for school and ed­u­ca­tion in­fra­struc­ture up­grades, Ms Uibo said the flex­i­bil­ity and adapt­abil­ity the ini­tia­tive was a god­send to a lot of schools.

“Schools are able to de­ter­mine what they want to do on their school grounds, to be able to sup­port qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and learn­ing for their stu­dents,” she said.

Schools might choose to up­grade ablu­tion blocks, kitchens and can­teen fa­cil­i­ties, up­dat­ing learn­ing spa­ces such as sci­ence labs or out­door class­rooms or even play­grounds, shade struc­tures or fenc­ing around school grounds.

Ms Uibo said that im­prov­ing school in­fra­struc­ture was a start in clos­ing the gap be­tween Indige­nous and non-indige­nous chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion in the Ter­ri­tory.

“We want to make sure that we’ve got qual­ity in­fra­struc­ture to be able to sup­port the learn­ing, teach­ing, grow­ing and suc­cess for our stu­dents; and for our staff and teach­ers that are work­ing in the schools,” she said.

“We’ve got some re­ally fan­tas­tic pro­grams that are bet­ter sup­ported when we have qual­ity in­fra­struc­ture.”

The min­is­ter em­pha­sised that while in­fra­struc­ture is an im­por­tant el­e­ment to sup­port learn­ing, noth­ing can replace qual­ity teach­ers and ex­cep­tional school lead­ers.

“We want to have great teach­ers in our class­rooms [and] ex­cel­lent prin­ci­pals lead­ing our schools. We want com­mu­nity en­gage­ment, so the wider com­mu­nity con­nects and en­gages with schools, and for our schools and our learn­ing precincts to sup­port and to di­rect what they want their kids to be learn­ing,” Ms Uibo said.

“In terms of clos­ing the gap in the Ter­ri­tory we are re­ally fo­cused on the early learn­ing years - we have the Fam­i­lies as First Teach­ers (FAFT) pro­gram which has been ex­tremely suc­cess­ful and will def­i­nitely con­trib­ute to clos­ing the gap in the long term,” she said.

An­other key el­e­ment to im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tional out­comes is com­mu­nity con­nec­tion and en­gage­ment, with the North­ern Ter­ri­tory De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion fo­cus­ing on the en­gage­ment of re­mote schools with their com­mu­ni­ties.

“There’s al­ways some way that we can im­prove our schools,” Ms Uibo said.

“To be able to im­prove our learn­ing out­comes for our kids – to in­vest in kids and to make kids the fore­front of our de­ci­sion mak­ing – that’s ab­so­lutely what we’re do­ing, par­tic­u­larly with a fo­cus on ed­u­ca­tion.”

Round 3 of the Build­ing Bet­ter Schools Ini­tia­tive opens in Oc­to­ber and all schools, Gov­ern­ment or non-gov­ern­ment, are in­vited to sub­mit an Ex­pres­sion of In­ter­est.

“Schools are re­ally bit­ing at the bit to make sure that they’re get into the next round be­cause every school re­ally needs this fund­ing,” Ms Uibo said.

“We want to make sure that we’ve got qual­ity in­fra­struc­ture to be able to sup­port the learn­ing, teach­ing, grow­ing and suc­cess for our stu­dents.”

Bakewell Pri­mary School.

Ne­mar­luk School play­ground was built through BBS fund­ing com­bined with com­mu­nity sup­port.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Se­lena Uibo with stu­dents from Ca­sua­r­ina Sec­ondary Col­lege.

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