House debates

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Questions without Notice

National Plan for School Improvement

2:45 pm

Photo of Dick AdamsDick Adams (Lyons, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Regional Services, Local Communities and Territories. How would the government's National Plan for School Improvement help children and young people in rural and regional communities to get a world-class education? Is there any opposition to this support?

2:46 pm

Photo of Ms Catherine KingMs Catherine King (Ballarat, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Regional Services, Local Communities and Territories) Share this | | Hansard source

I particularly thank the member for Lyons for his question and acknowledge his long-term advocacy for regional communities and for the transformative effects of education. It gives me the opportunity to talk about the importance of the National Plan for School Improvement to our regional communities, our $14.5 billion plan which builds on Labor's long-term commitment to education. It builds on our capital investments that were made through the Building the Education Revolution and that are mocked by the other side of this chamber. Those have seen transformative effects in our regional schools—small classrooms being built, libraries across the country, sporting facilities and language centres. It builds on our national partnership program, which particularly has helped regional schools lift their literacy and their numeracy rates.

The National Plan for School Improvement, in particular, sees some $6 billion in additional funding that will benefit regional, remote and very remote schools. That is 40 per cent of the additional funding that will go to regional, remote and very remote schools because it is a model that is based on need. Those of us who represent regional communities know that there is a disproportionate number of disadvantaged students in our regional, remote and very remote schools. We also know that the National Plan for School Improvement has both a location loading and a size loading, which means that there will be significant benefits for regional schools in that additional funding.

Why is it important? We know it is important because OECD studies show that 15-year-old metropolitan students are the equivalent of 1½ years ahead of students in our remote schools across all measures of reading, of mathematics, of science and of literacy. I know the members opposite do not seem to be particularly interested in what this means for regional schools, but certainly those of us who represent regional communities are interested. We know that on NAPLAN testing, metropolitan kids are ahead on reading levels of kids in regional areas and in remote areas, and in very remote areas as well. We know that is important because we want our kids in regional communities to have every opportunity to have high-skilled, high-growth jobs. That is incredibly important. We know that location loading can be used for extra teachers, for specialist teachers, for better equipment and for all of those things that are incredibly important for regional students.

On this side we know the transformative nature of education: our investment in the early years and our investment in uncapping university places. We know that what we are going to see under an Abbott government is not some $14.5 billion plus $6 billion extra for regional schools, but cuts to education—$16.2 billion worth of cuts to education, and that is bad for regional students. I call on the Victorian premier to support the education of our regional students, particularly given that he represents a regional community in Victoria.