ACT signs up to national education reforms

The Australian and Australian Capital Territory Governments have today reached an historic agreement which will benefit around 62,000 students across the territory.

The Prime Minister and the ACT Chief Minister today signed the National Education Reform Agreement, which will drive long term improvements in ACT schools and a fairer approach to funding based on the needs of every student.

The agreement incorporates the National Plan for School Improvement, which will see the two Governments work together to achieve:

• 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.

As part of the National Plan, both Governments will also adopt consistent needs-based funding arrangements, with the Gillard Government moving to legislate its funding commitments over coming weeks.

Building on the already strong public investment in the ACT, this will bring the total public investment in ACT schools to around $5 billion over the six years from 2014 – with around $190 million extra for ACT schools over this period.

This extra resourcing will mean that all ACT schools are funded to at least the level of the new Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) by 2019, as well as ensuring that schools across all sectors benefit from new more stable indexation arrangements over this period.

In simple terms, these indexation arrangements mean all schools in the ACT – Government, Independent and Catholic – will see fair funding growth each year.

Schools already funded at, or above, the new SRS will see their funding grow in real terms.

In addition, the Gillard Government has committed to grow its school education spending by 4.7 per cent per year from 2014 into 2015 and throughout the agreement.

In return, ACT has agreed to grow its own school budget by 3 per cent per year from 2015 onwards.

The results of ACT students are among the best in the country – and that’s why the Gillard Government is also announcing today that we will provide $26 million over six years to establish a Centre for Quality Teaching and Learning at the University of Canberra.

This will help all education authorities in the ACT to continue to be at the forefront of school reform in this country.

It will also help to achieve our goal for all schools in Australia to be in the top five in the world in reading, maths and science by 2025.

The Gillard Government is determined to keep working closely with all remaining states and territories – and with schools, parents and communities right across the nation – to see these reforms agreed by 30 June 2013.

This will give schools the certainty they need to plan for next year.

These reforms are in the interests of all Australian children, and they are in our national interest so we can take economic advantage of the opportunities of the Asian century.