Written by Yvette Berry - ACT Labor Sitting Member & Education Spokesperson
ACT Labor believes every Canberran deserves the best quality education to get the most out of life – in their job, their career and their community. Building better skills and training means building a better Canberra and broadening the horizons of our people and our communities.
ACT Labor has always invested heavily in education, increasing education funding every year we have been in government to a record $1.1 billion in 2015-16. The 2016 budget included funding to improve and renew school facilities across Canberra at Alfred Deakin High, Campbell High, Dickson College, the Woden School, Stromlo High, Lake Tuggeranong College, Wanniassa Hills Primary, Calwell High, Maribyrnong Primary, Weetangera and Hawker preschools, Amaroo School, Harrison School, Neville Bonner Primary and Palmerston Preschool.
If re-elected, Labor will deliver an $85 million program of public school upgrade and renewal. Older schools will be revitalised to provide the high quality learning environments our students and teachers deserve, particularly through improvements to heating, cooling and energy efficiency in school buildings. Should we succeed in getting the final two years of the Gonski agreement reinstated, a further $15 million will flow into this program.
A re-elected Labor government will also use its education platform to invest in the people who make our system the best in Australia and our schools great community hubs. Labor will provide funding for 66 school assistants in ACT public schools to ensure sustainable teacher workloads, more time for lesson planning and better time with students. Labor’s support to teachers will also extend to more mentoring support and a new examination of professional development and career pathways under a long term policy strategy for our school system.
Labor will also build on the Schools For All program through 20 additional school psychologists, allied health workers and better pathways for students who might need support outside school. Mental health has emerged as one of the most pressing issues in our schools and Labor will offer the leadership needed to respond to this need for every student in every school.
Further, Labor has already committed to fund the Safe Schools Coalition independent of the Commonwealth and free of the restrictions they would seek to impose. Students experiencing challenges around sexuality and gender diversity deserve to learn in safe, supportive and understanding environments, and they deserve to know they have the support of their government.
Labor believes in nurturing the entire school community. This means supporting parents, carers, community groups and individuals who can benefit from being involved with our schools – particularly those on lower incomes. Initiatives to support parents will help grow equity across our schools, while an expanding community access program will help more people access school facilities and more schools tap into the vast community resources which surround them.
The deep commitment of Labor to building on Canberra’s education system extends from early childhood through to university and VET institutions. Under a re-elected Labor government, new initiatives will help improve preschool services for busy parents, while support for Study Canberra will help our tertiary providers grow as national and international institutions. Labor will continue to provide the vast majority of government VET funding to the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) in order to guarantee its place as our premier VET provider into the future.
Last but not least, a re-elected ACT Labor government will immediately continue the task of advocating that the Commonwealth government honour the original six year Gonski funding agreement. Labor believes in equality of educational opportunity. No matter what background, postcode or learning ability, every child is of equal value and deserves access to a great education. Gonski offers the chance to take the politics out of school funding, to allocate resources based on need and to have the resources of our nation prioritised to the critical purpose of educating our children. ACT Labor is proud to have resourced Canberra’s public schools close to the Gonski resource standard, but the dishonoured national agreement is unfinished business and ACT Labor will be there to call on its reinstatement as a top priority.
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