ACT signs up to Gonski, PM dodges sandwich

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ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher and Prime Minister Julia Gillard signed an agreement today that will put in place education reforms recommended by the Gonski review across the territory.

Katy GallagherMs Gillard announced the historic agreement today at Lyneham High School, saying the reforms would deliver $190 million to the local education system from next year and benefit around 62,000 students.

The Chief Minister said the agreement “puts to bed the government and non-government school divide once and for all”.

“What this means is there will be no school worse off in the ACT, indeed all schools will receive extra support over the next six years,” Ms Gallagher said.

“What it also means is that for every student in the ACT, regardless of where you go to school, whether you go to a Catholic system primary school, or a small primary school on the outer of Canberra, or in a busy, large school in the middle of Canberra, you will get the same access to resources and support as every other student in the territory.”

Julia Gillard-0651The Prime Minister also announced that the federal government would provide $26 million over six years to establish “a centre for quality teaching and learning at the University of Canberra”.

“We believe the ACT is the right place for such a centre because of the high achievement of its schools,” Ms Gillard said.

One Lyneham High student made sure the Prime Minister’s visit made national headlines for all the wrong reasons by throwing a sandwich that narrowly missed Ms Gillard, who laughed off the incident.

The agreement incorporates the National Plan for School Improvement, which will see the two governments work together to achieve the following goals.

  • Continued improvement in teacher quality, through ensuring all ACT teachers are registered using the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers;
  • Full delivery of the world class Australian Curriculum in all ACT schools;
  • More power for local school leaders through supporting principals to better monitor achievement and track progress to inform publicly available plans for school improvement;
  • Flexible learning options that recognise the different learning styles and needs of students, particularly those students at risk of being or already disengaged from school;
  • Implementation of the Disability Standards for Education to provide reasonable adjustments for students with a disability to access the curriculum;
  • Greater access to quality language programs, including priority Asian languages.

The Gonski plan means ACT schools will be funded to at least the level of the new Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) by 2019.

Schools with current funding at or above the new SRS will not lose funding, and according to the government, “will see their funding grow in real terms”.

The Gillard Government has also committed to grow its school education spending by 4.7 per cent per year throughout the agreement, and the ACT Government has agreed to increase its own school budget by 3 per cent per year from 2015.

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