House debates

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Schools

3:14 pm

Photo of Alan TudgeAlan Tudge (Aston, Liberal Party, Minister for Education and Youth) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the member for Robertson for her question. She knows the national plan is absolutely critical to our society and economy, including for our schools. As we get to 70 per cent of the population vaccinated, we're going to see fewer lockdowns and fewer restrictions for all people, including young people. When we get to 70 per cent of eligible Australians vaccinated, schools should be open, with closures limited only to hotspot areas. The member for Robertson will know that her state of New South Wales, just today, hit 70 per cent of the New South Wales population having had their first jab, so they are well on the way. Within a few weeks, they'll have 70 per cent of the entire adult population with two vaccinations. Consistent with the national plan, they've laid out their plans as to when schools in New South Wales can open. I hope that the Victorian government will do something similar soon.

That national plan does provide the confidence, the certainty, the hope, that schools can be open and can remain open, other than in absolutely exceptional circumstances. Of course this is just so important, because in some cases, particularly in my home state of Victoria, kids have now lost 29 weeks of face-to-face learning. That can have devastating consequences for their learning, but equally it can have devastating consequences for their mental health.

When we finally get the schools back open and we start to get back to a normal state, then of course we must have that laser-like focus on lifting educational standards so that kids can roar back towards the end of this year and into next year. A key part of this is going to be in relation to the national curriculum. In the curriculum revision which is underway, we want to see standards lifted. We want to see great practices such as phonics embedded in that national curriculum and of course we want to see a positive, optimistic and patriotic view of our history embedded in the history curriculum. At the moment, I'm very concerned about the current draft which the curriculum authority has put out. We would not support the current draft, and I've asked for further work to be done on that because, when you look at some of the standards in the current draft, they go backwards, rather than forwards. When you look at the history curriculum, it has such a negative view of our history, rather than a positive, patriotic, optimistic view of our history.

This national plan gives us great hope and confidence. It gives us the hope and confidence that schools can be opened. We've focused on educational standards to give us hope and confidence that kids can roar back and, together, parents, teachers and kids can be very optimistic about the future.


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