I am pleased tonight to rise to talk in support of this budget line on this Labor government’s investment in education in our community. I particularly focus on two aspects, investment in education facilities and education services across my local area in Gungahlin and also this government’s commitment, led by Minister Burch, in national leadership roles on a range of areas.
This year’s budget very pleasingly includes $30 million investment in a new north Gungahlin preschool to year 6 school, and also feasibility funding for a new north Gungahlin high school. As the minister knows and as my community knows, this is a fast growing area and this new school is extremely welcome to all those new people currently living in Gungahlin and also those seeking to move there.
Last week Minister Gentleman launched the display village in Moncrieff. We know that over 2,000 families will be looking to move into Moncrieff over the next couple of years. This significant investment in a new P-6 school which will open in 2019 is extremely welcomed by the Gungahlin community.
I take a moment to acknowledge previous investments by this Labor government in education across Gungahlin: the Franklin Early Childhood School, a $30 million state-of-the-art facility offering schooling and childcare services for Gungahlin families, providing places from preschool to year 2 as well as a 120-place childcare facility; the Neville Bonner Primary School, a $48 million investment which opened in 2013, providing for nearly 400 students; the two super schools, the P-10 schools, at Amaroo and Harrison, teaching children from their very first school experiences all the way through until they move on to college, providing high quality education for over 2,200 students; and Gungahlin College, a fantastic facility which has had $75 million invested in it in order to give the best possible education to nearly 900 of Gungahlin’s teenagers as they arrive at the end of their secondary education journey and step into adulthood.
Certainly, this minister has led nationally and certainly in the ACT on a range of key leadership areas across education: the digital revolution in our schools, the investment in digital facilities across our schools recognising the future of learning, as Dr Bourke recently outlined, recognising the importance of coding in schools. Our new education facilities are being built to have this capacity to enable our students not just to observe the digital revolution but to engage in it and to drive it.
As Dr Bourke and Minister Burch spoke of earlier, there is also the ACT’s leadership role in teacher quality across the country, leading Australia in the campaign to ensure that we have the highest quality teachers that our children deserve; Minister Burch’s commitment to school safety, to traffic safety around schools, wearing both hats as Minister for Police and Emergency Services and minister for education. I know—and we discussed this in estimates—how even the gentlest of people can get pretty frustrated at school pickup and school drop-off times and it does not make for a very peaceful day when you are frustrated, in congestion, outside schools. And it certainly does not make it safe for our children.
I highly commend the work being done in this area. As Ms Lawder just noted, there is the work to make sure that respectful relationships are being taught in our schools across our curriculum and are being built into the work that teachers do and into what our children learn from their earliest engagement in the schooling system.
Importantly too, another nation-leading initiative of this government under Minister Burch is parental engagement. This, I know, has received coverage in a number of ways but it is more than movie nights at schools, as important as they are. What this recognises is the inherently important role that education plays in the lives of our children and the lives of our community, how parents need to work with their children and be engaged in their schooling. As more parents work, as more families juggle more responsibilities inside the home and outside the home, parental engagement becomes a diverse and important initiative and is something that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to.
But what this government is doing is leading the way on finding the best possible opportunities for parents to engage in their children’s learning. So I am pleased today to speak in support of this important education line and I commend the government for its commitments in education.