A statement from the WA Liberal Party regarding public education.
The past two years has been a period of unparalleled reform in education in Western Australia. The implementation of Phase 1 of the National Curriculum, the transition of Year 7s into secondary school, a new student centred funding model, the introduction of the new WACE requirements and the extension of the Independent Public Schools system are all reforms that have been well received throughout the community.
The success of the implementation of these reforms can be largely attributed to the commitment and professionalism of our teachers, school leaders and support staff. I consistently express my confidence in the public arena that Western Australia has the best education system in the nation – a comment that I don’t make flippantly, but because I believe it.
We have much to be proud of in WA with regard to education. We have the highest paid teachers in the nation, by far the best resourced schools in the nation and our NAPLAN results have improved more than any other state since the inception of this assessment mechanism in 2008.
In addition, I am confident that our emphasis on early intervention will lead to even further improvements in the years ahead. For example, in recent years pre-primary school was made compulsory for all Western Australian students and the government has invested heavily in assisting those groups from lower socio economic areas during their early years.
This was achieved by opening 21 Child and Parent Centres which provide essential literacy numeracy and speech therapy support, wrap around services and parenting workshops. In addition, the state government opened 37 three year old Aboriginal kindergartens – the Kindilink programme – this year to provide vital early intervention and support for Aboriginal children and their parents.
The challenge now is to continue with the successes that have been achieved over recent years. As a long term former teacher I remain convinced that the emphasis upon both early intervention at the commencement of a child’s education, coupled with the rigour that has now been established with the new WACE at the exit stage of a student’s compulsory education is the correct path to follow.
With this in mind, the state government will continue to place heavy emphasis upon these two areas, in addition to providing schools with enhanced autonomy through an expansion of the Independent Public Schools system. Schools themselves know where the appropriate allocation of resources is most effectively utilised with their cohort of students and it is for this reason more authority with regard to decision making at the local level will be provided.
While funding on education by the state government has increased by over 70% since 2008 and, as previously mentioned, WA has the highest resourced schools of any other state, an added bonus with regard to funding will be the $1 billion to be allocated through the partial sale of Western Power.
This money will be used to fund upgrades to hundreds of our aging schools – in particular, to the specialist facilities required in many of our secondary schools such as design and technology, performing arts, hospitality facilities, visual arts and the like. This is a unique opportunity for the government to significantly improve the infrastructure in the state’s schools – in a vastly accelerated time frame.
It is an absolute privilege to be Minister for Education in Western Australia – I am extremely proud of the quality of service that our government and non-government sectors provide for our students in all areas – curriculum and pastoral care.
As a former educator I am mindful that we must always strive to improve the quality of the education that we deliver for our students. However, I am also appreciative of the fact that WA’s education system genuinely provides opportunities for students to complete their compulsory years of schooling well prepared for the challenges that they will face in their adult life.
By Hon Peter Collier MLC. Minister for Education