ACT Labor’s vision for education - Ensuring equity and supporting vulnerable students

Every year we are investing record levels of funding in our community, building a stronger local health system, investing in better schools and teachers, maintaining a strong local economy and creating more local jobs than ever before.

ACT Labor believes that when it comes to education, excellence and equity must go hand in hand.  If we want a truly high performing education system in Canberra we must successfully increase performance, while at the same time increasing equity.

Every student, regardless of their circumstance, must have every opportunity to perform to distinction.

Improving education outcomes for students with disabilities remains a key priority for ACT Labor.  Students with disabilities often face disadvantages in achieving education and employment outcomes, and across Australia have disproportionately low levels of educational attainment.  We must keep pushing for higher standards and better outcomes for students with disabilities and learning difficulties in our schools.

ACT Labor believes that people living with a disability should be given the opportunity and support to achieve their full potential and be valued as equal participants in our community.

We also recognise that it is not only students with a disability that sometimes struggle at school.  There are other vulnerable students and their teachers in our schools who also need extra support to be their best.

 

That’s why if re-elected, ACT Labor will provide $10 million over four years to support students with learning disabilities, in both mainstream and special school environments.

And we will also provide more in-class support for teachers and students at risk by committing up to $12 million to maintain and expand the School Literacy and Numeracy Field Officer program.

Policy initiatives

More support for learning disabilities

ACT Labor has a strong track record when it comes to improving services for students with special needs in our schools.

Over the last ten years ACT Labor has ensured that annual spending on students with disabilities has increased by over 100%, from $29 million in 2001 to around $67 million today.  We have also delivered a range of targeted recurrent initiatives to assist students with disabilities, and rolled out major upgrades at Malkara, Black Mountain, Woden, and Cranleigh special schools.

Teachers and education staff have been supported to push boundaries and trial innovative approaches to teaching students with special needs, ensuring that teaching and learning services in ACT schools for students with disabilities and learning difficulties remain rigorous, relevant and dignified.

ACT Labor has also been responsible for launching a range of policy reforms that have improved services for students, including:

  • Integration of therapy services within schools;
  • Establishing cross-sectoral representation on student disability issues through the Disability Education Steering Group; and
  • Implementing a cross-government approach to assist post-school transitions.

More recently, ACT Labor launched the Education Minister’s Expert Taskforce on Learning Difficulties, to publically assess the level of support given to students with learning difficulties and look at innovative improvements.  ACT Labor has also enshrined within the Humans Rights Act a right for all students to access a free school education, regardless of their circumstances or level of need. But there is more to do.

If re-elected ACT Labor will provide $10 million over four years for targeted, recurrent initiatives to address student need at a school level.  This funding will assist students with complex learning needs, in both mainstream and special school environments.

ACT government schools will be able to apply for recurrent grants to carry out sustainable, evidence-based programs over the next four years.

Funded programs could include:

  • The use of technology to provide intervention amongst primary and high school children, particularly targeting core social–communication deficits;

  • Community-focussed approach which brings parents and carers into the learning environment;

  • Supporting the outcomes from the Expert Taskforce on Learning Difficulties;

  • more support for tackling autism in early childhood development through more funded hours for autism intervention units;

  • A trial of innovative interdisciplinary schooling and support methods for children with special needs such as the Early Start Denver Model; and

Funded programs will include a required evaluation component to assist and direct  further needs-based initiatives.

 

Maintain and expand Literacy and Numeracy officers

The results in the ACT of the Smarter Schools National Partnership program show that targeting more resources to students at risk of poor academic performance will underpin further success in achieving national literacy and numeracy targets.

Literacy and numeracy skills are highly valued in both post-schooling vocational and academic streams and serve as the best preparation for a student’s future working life.

To maintain performance in these areas we need to continue to support proven, targeted literacy and numeracy strategies within schools.

The School Literacy and Numeracy Field Officer program which has targeted public schools with students at risk of poor literacy and numeracy performance, including Indigenous students and those from lower socio economic areas, have been integral in providing more in-class support for teachers and students.  They have proved highly successful in improving outcomes and remain popular with the teaching community and parents.

A re-elected ACT Labor Government will commit up to $12.1 million to maintain and expand this recurrent program.

Policy costings

ACT Labor’s vision for education – ensuring equity and supporting vulnerable students

 

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

Total*

More support for learning disabilities

$2.50m

$2.50m

$2.50m

$2.50m

$10.00m

Literacy and Numeracy Officers

$2.90m

$2.98m

$3.07m

$3.16m

$12.11m

Total*

$5.40m

$5.48m

$5.57m

$5.66m

$22.11m

*figures may not total due to rounding