House debates

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Questions without Notice

National Plan for School Improvement

2:35 pm

Photo of John MurphyJohn Murphy (Reid, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth. Minister, would you update the House on the need for a national plan for school improvement. Minister, are there any alternatives to this? What would be their impact?

Photo of Peter GarrettPeter Garrett (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Reid for his question. He would know that his constituents have seen over $91 million invested in 111 projects, benefiting 43 schools across his electorate. But the fact is that Australians are faced with a future. When you think about the future, it is education that is absolutely crucial. It is absolutely crucial to our national prosperity.

Last week we saw new analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers, finding that if we improve our schools to the world's best standards then we could generate over $3 trillion over the life of a child born today. That is the productivity capacity of a good education for Australian students. We have had five years of reform and delivery—reform like the national partnerships, the My School website and delivery where we have seen improvement in facilities right around Australia in schools. Now we have an unprecedented opportunity to take the next step—a national plan for school improvement, a plan that for the first time ensures that all schools get the funding they need to deliver a great education to all students, a plan that recognises the clear link between disadvantage and student performance, a Labor government plan that is underpinned by the principles of equity, excellence in teaching, transparency and accountability, and informed choice for parents. I am asked about alternative plans. The plan was labelled as mad by the shadow minister opposite, who, at the time of the last election, had identified only cuts for education in this country—cuts to trade training centres, cuts to the national partnership to improve teacher quality. In fact he has had a pretty terrible year. It has been 764 days since he has asked a question on education. But here is the opposition's spokesman who thinks that one in seven teachers should be sacked, that we should be considering class sizes that are bigger. And now he has had a brain-fade today by saying that My School should be demolished—the information on the My School website no longer available to parents, no longer available to teachers, no longer available to those of us in this House. That is where we are with the opposition.

I am asked about the impacts. Here we are, with a broken funding system on offer from Mr Abbott and Mr Pyne that could see Australian schools around $2 billion worse off over four years, a party that believes there is no connection between low socioeconomic background and student performance, and an opposition leader who believes that the current level of support to 6,743 government schools right around Australia is an injustice. They can carry on with the veneer of smear in this parliament. We will carry on with getting a national plan for school improvement delivered.