Creating Opportunity through Education, Building Community
Updated: Jul 31, 2018
Developing successful, confident, creative and informed learners and citizens should be a priority for all governments.
Investment in schools and education across all ages is needed to ensure our schools remain some of the best globally and our students have the skills necessary for future opportunities.
Governments have a role in both supporting excellent schools and teachers, as well as creating the opportunities for students as they transition from school.
The Palaszczuk Government is taking on this challenge and is working hard to create opportunities for students beyond the school gate.
On the first day of Budget Estimates student leaders from across our community joined with me on a tour of Parliament House.
School leaders from Coorparoo Secondary College, Whites Hill State College, Holland Park High School, Cavendish Rd State High School, Mt Gravatt State High, Holland Park State High and the Brisbane School of Distance Education were part of the 30 plus strong group of students who joined the tour.
Whenever I interact with young people in our local schools nearing the end of their studies I like to ask them about their future plans.
This group of amazing and diverse students responded again and again with “I haven’t decided yet, there are so many opportunities”.
When I finished school just over 30 years ago I felt I had options, but they were relatively finite.
Growing up in a large working class family our ambitions were limited by reality.
For these young people the future is much brighter and more open. Not only are they able to see the opportunities before them, they are equipped with the skills, knowledge and confidence to believe they could pursue whatever their chosen path is.
It is no accident that these students exhibit such optimism. It is the outcome of consistent commitment to education and schooling by successive state and federal Labor governments which have created this optimism.
In 2008, shortly after these students would have started school, all Australian Education Ministers, led by Julia Gillard, signed the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.
The Melbourne Declaration put forward a range of goals to develop successful, confident, creative and informed learners and citizens.
A decade on from this statement the Palaszczuk Government is continuing to make the investment needed to achieve these goals. This investment is building on a legacy of change from previous state governments.
Successful learners have their foundation in excellent and accessible early childhood learning. The introduction of a Prep year to schools and kindergarten programs into long day care services by previous governments support laid a foundation of early childhood education.
In 2016 the Palaszczuk Government made Prep compulsory across Queensland and rolled out free membership to Play Groups for babies up to 12 months of age. All of this helps to achieve the goal of strengthening early childhood education.
However, it is important that governments ensure a quality education system across all ages.
Confident and creative learners should be supported across all levels of schooling. Learners need to have access to high quality resources and learning environments to drive confidence and creativity.
It was under the leadership of the former Member for Greenslopes, and then Minister for Education, Cameron Dick that our state government committed to transitioning Year 7 into high school settings. This change enables our Year 7 students access to learning spaces and opportunities that are better supported in high school settings. Learning such as access to science labs and specialist teaching spaces.
It was under the Palaszczuk Government, with Kate Jones as Minister for Education that this transition was completed. Our current government under the leadership of Minister Grace that we continue to focus on this area. I am personally pleased that schools in our community, such as Mt Gravatt High School, have received additional funding to build additional class rooms supporting the increased numbers of students. This augments the many dedicated Year 7 precincts, additional resources, and investment in professional learning for teachers across both State and Catholic schools in our community.
The Advancing Education Action Plan has focused on putting more teachers into classrooms and providing more professional development opportunities to strengthen teaching excellence. In this year’s budget we committed to employing another 3700 teachers.
A few years ago I took P&C and P&F Presidents on a tour of the Autism Hub and Reading Centre in Woolloongabba. These services were started by the Palaszczuk Government to support teachers to develop specialist skills to support students to improve reading skills and to support students with autism.
The Advancing Education Plan is working to achieve many other goals in the Melbourne Declaration such as developing stronger partnerships and supporting youth transitions.
Soon the first students who have benefited from the introduction of a Prep year and the transition of Year 7 to high school will be in their final year of schooling. I will continue to work hard as part of the Palaszczuk Government so that they can still be saying when asked about future plans “I haven’t decided yet, there are so many opportunities”.
I am committed to building community. To do this we must create opportunity for young people. That is certainly something I will be working hard to achieve as part of the Palaszczuk Government.