ACT Budget: new schools welcome but librarians still missing

The ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations – the peak body for Canberra’s public school parents – sees today’s budget as a mixed bag for the Territory’s public schools.

“One of the biggest challenges for our schools at the moment is growth,” said Council President, Kirsty McGovern-Hooley. “We are very pleased to see funding for an additional primary and high school in the Gungahlin suburbs of Throsby and Kenny.

Council is very pleased to see expansions to Gungahlin College, Franklin Primary School and Gold Creek senior campus, but we are concerned that more needs to be done to accommodate the increases in student numbers that are expected.”

“It is pleasing to see funds to accommodate growth in Canberra’s inner north schools and planning for new schools in areas like Belconnen” said Ms McGovern-Hooley.

“While parents will be pleased to see funding set aside to address occupational violence, Council is concerned that targeted resources are required to support students experiencing violence in schools. We have been working closely with the Directorate on community-based solutions and are seeing that more can be done in this space. This is a complex issue that requires a targeted approach for staff, students and parents.”

“However, we are disappointed that there is no commitment to properly staff public school libraries.”

“We need targeted funding to ensure that every school has a qualified Teacher-Librarian and library support staff. We know that public schools are much less likely to have Teacher Librarians than other schools.”

“Students and teachers need strong library services today more than ever. Qualified library staff teach kids to negotiate the morass of information on the internet – to sort fact from fiction – and access and assess information they can trust.”

“Teacher Librarians excite and instill the love of reading in students and collaborate with and assist classroom teachers to cater for individual student needs. They can place books in front of kids that are in tune with their needs and interests and are culturally appropriate. In fact, studies show that qualified librarians raise literacy levels in schools.”

 “Every child needs that expertise, regardless of the school they attend,” said Ms McGovern-Hooley.

Released Tuesday 4 June, 2019