Debates Day 4 - Tuesday 9 May 2017
Parliamentary Record 5
Debates for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2018; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020
pp 1623 to 1686
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)
Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Tuesday 9 May 2017 1658 I am committed to meeting them and listening to them. We have set meetings with those key stakeholders either monthly or every two months. It is vitally important. If we are to make change, if we are to strive and drive improvements in education, we cannot do that alone. We need those partnerships and strong relationships. Relationships are one of the keys to drive improvements. We must listen to and work with the principals, teachers and support staff in our schools. We must listen to and work with our school representative bodies, and most importantly, with our families and young people. I thank the many members of this House who recognise the valuable contribution of parents and carers to the governance and leadership of schools through their voluntary service on school councils. The Member for Blains idea to look at options for providing accredited training to these committed individuals is something I have taken on board and raised in my regular meetings with NT COGSO to see what is possible. Instead of parents only doing courses or workshops with COGSO, it would be great if they could gain accreditation. This government has made a clear and unequivocal commitment to invest in children, to do right by the next generation of Territory leaders. This is not only the right thing to do; it is the smart and wise thing to do. The Minister for Children, the Member for Wanguri, said that for every dollar spent on preschools, there will be a yield of $8 in increased productivity and revenue across the broader economy. The Member for Nelson stated that while he has heard many statements on education from different governments, he sees the same issues and gaps in achievement and attendance. He is concerned that nothing is changing. This government is making changes that make a difference. Our agenda and focus on early childhood is a clear example of this. We are expanding the Families as First Teachers program and working together on a whole of government early childhood development plan that will drive generational change and improve the lives of Territory children. This focus on supporting families and children is how we will achieve generational change. We need to start at the beginning of a childs life, because that is where we can have the greatest impact. As Minister for Education, I will ensure the work that is done is based on evidence and firm research. Things did not change because for too long people have acted on a whim and looked for silver bullets. We are a government that focuses on evidence-based decisions. There has been a clear acknowledgement that to truly shift our system and give every child the best opportunity for success we need to stick to what evidence shows makes a difference. Results show that one-third of the variations in student performance were explained by the degree of equity in the allocation of education resources between advantaged and disadvantaged schools. That is why I am serious about demanding from Simon Birmingham and the federal government that we get a fair share of needs-based funding to the Territory. That is what it is about, the allocation of education resources. That will make the difference between advantaged and disadvantaged schools in the Territory. This is further backed up by the recent analysis showing that two-thirds of principals reported that a lack of, inadequate or poorly-qualified teaching staff hindered instruction. Socioeconomic differences were also apparent, with a much greater proportion of principals of disadvantaged schools identifying these issues compared to advantaged schools. This has big implications for the Territory, where the average level of disadvantage across our schools is extreme compared to other jurisdictions. Sixty-four of the most disadvantaged schools in Australia are in the Northern Territory. That is based on reporting, parent income, parent education and remoteness. We hear about the allocation of resources between advantaged and disadvantaged schools, and its impacts, so it is vital that we lobby the federal government so we get the funding needed to be able to turn that around. Improving the results of low socioeconomic status students to match the Australian average would lift Australia into the top 10 countries in the world in reading and science, and it would substantially improve our position in mathematics. You hear about the poor results in Pisa and Australia in TIMSSand here is an answer to improving our results worldwide. It is all very good to talk about results in our eastern seaboard schools, but if we want to improve our standing across the world in reading, science and mathematics, we need to do something about the kids in remote and low socioeconomic status schools.
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