As a truly grass-roots organisation, Council is constantly guided by the consensus of our members and the discussions held at out regular General Meetings. From speaking to parents, and their representatives from each school P&C we co-create a set of policies and focus issues which we then voice to decision makers in government. An important avenue for us in having your say is the formal submissions we write.
As in previous years, we have submitted for consideration by the ACT Government a thorough proposal for schools funding for the annual ACT budget. We were also pleased to see a specific Parliamentary Inquiry into school infrastructure, and prepared an additional submission on that subject.
Here, we’ve summarised our main points and recommendations – a great parent wish-list for ACT public schools! You can see all the details in the submissions themselves.
The wish list
- More new schools – we know the ACT Government has several new school planned in new suburbs, but additional primary schools are needed in the Inner North, central Woden and Belconnen Town Centre, as well as a second college for Gungahlin.
- Changes to planning processes are needed so that schools are considered at the beginning of town planning.
- Libraries and other specialist spaces in primary schools (such as drama or arts spaces) must be removed from school capacity calculations so that they are preserved and not converted to classrooms as school enrolments grow.
- After School Care services and capacity must be considered in school enrolment and growth plans.
- A more consistent and coordinated approach to infrastructure upgrades, overseen by property-management professionals is needed, a school modernisation fund should be established. And more funding made available for removal of hazardous materials from schools. Heating, cooling, and traffic management also need to be addressed in many schools.
- A strategy is needed to protect schools from vandalism, including CCTV and fencing (where supported by the school community).
- Investments for full inclusion are needed to provide ramps, lifts, sensory spaces and quiet and calm spaces.
- Increases are needed in in-school real-time wellbeing and allied health supports.
- A comprehensive evidenced-based relationships and sex education framework must be embedded a in public schools.
- A wholistic inclusive education framework to guide best practice inclusive education across public schools needs to be developed, and all educational professionals in public schools must have access to quality inclusive education professional development.
- All educational professionals in public schools (school leaders, teachers and learning support assistants) must have access to quality inclusive education professional development.
- Funding must be ear-marked for qualified teacher librarian in every school, with priority to schools with lower socio-economic areas.
- Continued support is needed for a range of strategies to reduce bullying and violence in schools.
This article appeared in ParentACTion Magazine, Term 3, 2021.