Western Teacher : Volume 46.1 - January 2017
10 Western Teacher January 2017 Issues WA state election statement: Nationals WA By Brendon Grylls MLA Nationals WA leader These statements have been provided by the mainstream WA political parties at the invitation of the SSTUWA to inform members about each party’s position towards public education or their party’s education policy platform ahead of the 2017 WA state election. The content has not been altered in any form from the original text sent to the SSTUWA. A quality education lays the foundation for opportunity and success. For the disadvantaged in our society it offers a pathway to a better life. Every child should have equal opportunity to access a quality education no matter where they live. Despite this, children educated in regional Western Australia continue to underperform in Year 12 graduation results and tertiary entrance when compared to their metropolitan counterparts. Since 2008, The Nationals WA through Royalties for Regions have invested more than $380million into education projects. This includes $100million for the Regional Schools Plan. Royalties for Regions has also delivered benefits for the attraction and retention of teachers through increased district allowances and the $4.8million Pilbara- specific attraction and retention program. Attracting and retaining good regional teachers continues to be a priority for The Nationals WA. Royalties for Regions spending has also seen $5.5million allocated to increase the Boarding Away From Home Allowance (BAHA) and $52million to upgrade regional residential colleges. A regional component of the $1billion Next Generation Fund will be used to develop a ‘Centre of Excellence’ within a regional high school with substantial aboriginal representation, two K-12 Community Colleges, ongoing student hostel expansions, and the continuation of regional school upgrades. Whilst we are proud of our education system and the advances we’ve made, key areas remain in regional education that need attention. The Nationals believe it is genuinely possible to gain a quality primary school education in regional schools, and even in small schools. Quality secondary education is a greater challenge, with access to specialist programs and curriculum choice being the greatest barriers. Technology has proven an enabler, but requires adequate internet access, inter- school collaborative relationships and robust maintenance contracts. The Nationals commit to ensuring schools across regional WA have access to a dedicated ICT infrastructure fund, as well as access to ICT support and training for regional teachers. Poor school attendance and an apparent lack of culturally appropriate evidence based teaching strategies continue to undermine basic literacy and numeracy skills in remote primary schools with predominantly aboriginal populations. The Kimberley’s explicit evidence based teaching methods trial and attendance strategies that encourage a community partnership will offer an insight into future strategies. Evidence-based explicit instruction methods have demonstrably good outcomes and should be presented as an opt-in choice where communities can demonstrate a commitment to the value of education. Secondary schooling for remote students reliant on boarding away from home is often the only option to gain access to a wide curriculum choice. The Nationals WA will continue to support investment into regionally based hostel accommodation to improve the quality and capacity of residential accommodation where upper school educational opportunities exist. Wheatbelt secondary education opportunities have come under significant pressure due to farm consolidation and a reduction in population. District high schools offer limited upper secondary programs, often with small student numbers. Many families choose to bypass these schools and send their children to residential hostels or private schools in Perth where they have more confidence in the educational opportunities. The Wheatbelt requires a new plan, developed in consultation with the communities where these issues can be properly addressed, encompassing strategically placed full service K-12 colleges offering regionally based secondary alternatives, with hostel accommodation to match.
Volume 45.9 November 2016
Volume 46.2 - February 2017