20 Jun 2012

Appropriations Bill 2012/2013 – Consideration in detail – Education

Mike's Speeches in Parliament Comments Off on Appropriations Bill 2012/2013 – Consideration in detail – Education

Mr SYMON (Deakin) (20th June 2012 10:17): Minister, with regard to funding for education in the budget, I am interested in building on the great work that the federal Labor government has done over the last four budgets. In my electorate of Deakin and also across Australia the federal Labor government has made a significant investment in local schools. Of course, by far the bulk of this investment has been in primary schools. Every primary school has had the opportunity to add a new building or refurbish their facilities to make them better places to teach and learn.

Every single member of the opposition voted against any of our schools getting money under the Building the Education Revolution program. They did not want it to happen. But in my electorate of Deakin every single school I have been to thinks it is a fantastic program. I would invite anyone who is listening to contact those schools and come out and talk to them about what they have got from the program. And it is still going on; they are not quite finished yet; there are more to be opened next year. These are especially the ones that have taken time to consult and to argue the point and actually get what they want out of the program. We have had some fantastic results with funding for our schools locally, particularly schools that broke out of the state government template and decided they wanted to do something different—and in the end they did. They got bigger and better buildings and, in many cases, had money left over to do extra building or extra refurbishments at the end of the job. We still have some of those going on right now. Schools such as Warranwood Primary, just out of my electorate, Heathmont East Primary and Antonio Park Primary got two major projects instead of one and that is great for them.

As I said, there is still more to come on stream but many of these schools in the electorate, although they now have great buildings and are great places to teach, also need ongoing investment because there is no point in just putting money into capital and then not being able to use the new learning spaces and the new technology that comes with them. Many of these schools have not seen a new building since the 1950s and when you go out there today the contrast is huge. Throughout the process I worked closely with schools. As I said, that is the way it worked best. Rather than just having the state government direct how federal government funds were spent, the local member was involved right down to that level. And it certainly shows. I congratulate each and every member of the Labor side of the House who went out and did that during the rollout. It shows now and it will show for decades to come.

Secondary schools, of course, have been the beneficiaries of the Digital Education Revolution, which the member for Sturt does not seem impressed with. Again, I invite people to come out to secondary schools in my electorate and ask them what they think of the 4,000 computers that have gone into secondary schools in the electorate of Deakin. They are very happy because they had nothing but they now have a lot. There are some problems getting data out of the Victorian state government with regard to this, so the best thing to do is go and talk to the schools.

Minister, I am interested in the $54 million you announced in May this year in response to the Chief Scientist’s Mathematics, engineering and science in the national interest report. In particular, I am interested in the $16.9 million of the $54 million to deliver programs for Australian students. I note that that included $6½ million for CSIRO to expand the Scientist and Mathematicians in Schools program, taking interesting maths and science lessons to schools across Australia, particularly rural and regional schools. There was $5 million for Science Connections, to support the Science by Doing and Primary Connections projects, providing extra online teaching resources with leadership from the Australian Academy of Science. There was $3 million to fund National Support and Advice for Teachers, a new service for maths and science teachers to help them deliver stimulating and safe lessons. There was also an amount of $2.4 million to support the participation of Australia’s most talented science and maths secondary students in the International Mathematics and Science Olympiad.

As I said, the important part about providing funding to schools is not only what is done on the outside but what we keep doing on the inside. Minister, can you provide me with further advice on the implementation of these programs and how they will improve the teaching of maths and science not only at schools in Deakin but right across Australia?

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