Parents wonder if "business as usual" schools’ budget has growth covered

The ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations – the peak body for Canberra’s public school parents –  questions whether today’s budget does enough to cater for a growing student population

“One of the biggest challenges for our schools at the moment is growth,” said Council President, Kirsty McGovern-Hooley. “Student numbers are expected to increase substantially in the coming years, especially in Gungahlin.”

“We are pleased to see planning in the budget for the minimum requirements to cope with this growth. We welcome the infrastructure investment, especially for building the new school at Molonglo. But we are concerned that more needs to be done, particularly in Gungahlin.”

“A new school in East Gungahlin is being planned, but will it come soon enough? And is just this one new school enough given how quickly enrolments are predicted to grow?” asked Ms McGovern-Hooley. “There is funding to expand existing Gungahlin schools and we look forward to discussions with the Directorate about how this expansion will happen within those schools while making sure facilities like school halls, playgrounds and carparks can cope.”

“The roof replacement program is a smart investment at those schools, providing long term sustainability by reducing heating and cooling costs, and making it possible to install solar panels.”

“We are also pleased to see funding for more nurses in our schools – their expertise is crucial,” said Ms McGovern-Hooley. “However, we are disappointed that there is no commitment to fund other essential expertise – pastoral care specialists, such as social workers, and teacher librarians.”

“We need targeted funding to ensure that every school has a qualified teacher-librarian. We know that public schools are much less likely to have teacher-librarians than private schools. And studies show that qualified librarians raise literacy levels and teach kids to negotiate the morass of information on the internet – to sort fact from fiction. Every child needs that expertise, regardless of the school they attend.”

“Pastoral care specialists are in great demand in schools – improving student well-being and behaviour, addressing barriers to school engagement, and creating effective home-school partnerships,” she said. “Teachers are often faced with pastoral care responsibilities without the training. A specialist in every school would allow teachers to focus on quality teaching and student learning.”


Released 3pm Tuesday June 5, 2018