Re­form process be­gins

The Australian Education Reporter - - NEWS: ACT/TAS - REUBEN ADAMS

ACT Ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Yvette Berry MLA has kick-started the devel­op­ment of a strat­egy for the fu­ture of ed­u­ca­tion in the Ter­ri­tory, which em­pha­sises eq­uity in the school and early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion and care sys­tems.

This work will in­clude a com­mu­nity con­sul­ta­tion process with par­ents and car­ers, stu­dents, teach­ers, ed­u­ca­tors and ed­u­ca­tion lead­ers, and mem­bers of the broader ACT com­mu­nity.

In a min­is­te­rial state­ment, Ms Berry em­pha­sised the core value of eq­uity and the fact that ev­ery­one ben­e­fits when this eq­uity is achieved.

“La­bor be­lieves in a di­verse, cre­ative and eq­ui­table school sys­tem where no one is ex­cluded be­cause of their back­ground, cul­ture, gen­der, class, re­li­gion, sex­u­al­ity, wealth or abil­ity,” she said.

“The ACT Gov­ern­ment is also deeply com­mit­ted to the prin­ci­ple of needs-based fund­ing and is re­form­ing our school fund­ing model in line with the Gon­ski agree­ment.

“With th­ese fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples in mind, the gov­ern­ment will soon be­gin a process to sit down with a broad spec­trum of ed­u­ca­tion lead­ers, teach­ers, ed­u­ca­tors, stu­dents, par­ents and car­ers to lis­ten to their views.”

Com­mu­nity lead­ers from dif­fer­ent fields would also be asked to col­lab­o­rate to bring dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives to is­sues fac­ing stu­dents.

Ms Berry said the ex­ten­sive con­sul­ta­tion process would also help guide the de­liv­ery of other key elec­tion com­mit­ments in ed­u­ca­tion, in­clud­ing free elec­tronic de­vices for stu­dents and fos­ter­ing greater parental en­gage­ment.

“This work is vi­tal to en­sure that ev­ery child, re­gard­less of their cir­cum­stances or back­ground has ac­cess to an ed­u­ca­tion that will set them up for a bright fu­ture,” she said.

“We know for ex­am­ple that time spent in early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion, par­tic­u­larly for those chil­dren from low in­come fam­i­lies, is in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant in get­ting them ready for school and we will also use this process to in­form a strat­egy in sup­port of greater ac­cess to qual­ity early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion and care.

“To­day I have also writ­ten di­rectly to im­por­tant stake­hold­ers in ed­u­ca­tion and re­lated fields to set out this di­rec­tion and ex­plain that I will be seek­ing their in­volve­ment as we build a com­mu­nity-led con­ver­sa­tion around our school and early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion and care sys­tems.”

The ACT Coun­cil of So­cial Ser­vice wel­comed the com­mit­ment to a dis­cus­sion pa­per and re­form process.

ACTCOSS di­rec­tor Su­san Hel­yar said Can­berra, one of the best ed­u­cated pop­u­la­tions in Aus­tralia and with a grow­ing knowl­edge econ­omy, also had some of the worst ed­u­ca­tion at­tain­ment gaps in the na­tion.

“While on av­er­age ACT stu­dents per­form highly, th­ese av­er­ages con­ceal num­bers of highly dis­ad­van­taged stu­dents,” she said.

“Di­ver­sity within sub­urbs means dis­ad­van­tage is spread out rather than con­cen­trated in a few ar­eas or schools.

“So­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus (in­come) is a stronger pre­dic­tor of ed­u­ca­tion at­tain­ment in Can­berra than it is in other places.

“In sim­ple terms, that means that in Can­berra be­ing dis­ad­van­taged has a big­ger im­pact on your ed­u­ca­tion out­comes than it does in other places.”

ACTCOSS di­rec­tor Su­san Hel­yar said Can­berra, one of the best ed­u­cated pop­u­la­tions in Aus­tralia and with a grow­ing knowl­edge econ­omy, also had some of the worst ed­u­ca­tion at­tain­ment gaps in the na­tion.

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