In 2022, Council set three focus areas for our advocacy, based on member feedback in meetings and to our office. These focus areas supported deeper and more consistent advocacy.
Our focus areas were:
- school infrastructure, maintenance and capacity,
- Inclusive education; and
- Promoting volunteering and parent engagement.
Council’s advocacy and leadership in this space has been critical to shaping the experiences of students in ACT public schools. We continue to see the ACT Government invest record amounts in school infrastructure, maintenance and building new schools. Although, perhaps not as quickly as we would prefer.
Council has welcomed the support of the Minister for Education and ACT Education Directorate in promoting and supporting the work of P&C volunteers and their contribution and engagement with schools, in terms of recognising the generous value that P&C volunteers make and understanding how beneficial the engagement between schools and families is for student outcomes.
Arguably, our most successful advocacy outcome this year is the ACT Government’s investment of $10 million for inclusive education funding in the 2023 budget. This funding allows the trial of inclusion coaches in Tuggeranong public schools. We anticipate that these positions will guide, support and model, a better and more inclusive educational experience for our students with disabilities and or complex behaviours.
It is heartbreaking to know that not all ACT public school students feel included in their school life.
Being inclusive isn’t just a task for schools, but something we as parents and P&Cs also need to be better at. I’d encourage everyone to think about how they can be more inclusive, inviting students to birthday parties or hosting more inclusive P&C events such as silent discos.
My sincere thanks also to Yvette Berry MLA, Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Katy Haire Director-General and all the staff at the ACT Education Directorate and the ACT Branch of the Australian Education Union for your willingness to work respectfully and collaboratively with me and Council members and for engaging in robust conversations.
Lastly, I’d like to shout a massive thank you to our members and their volunteers for all they do in their communities. To Council’s executive members for their support over the last three years, in the most challenging of times. And, to our dedicated staff who work hard to ensure that the voices of members, our public school parents are heard and understood.