Australian Government, 2012‑13 Budget
Budget

The Building Blocks (Continued)

Schooling

A good education gives children the chance to reach their potential, opens up employment opportunities and encourages personal responsibility and independence.

With this Budget, the Government has stayed focused on helping to improve numeracy and literacy levels for Indigenous Australians. We are also continuing to invest in improving teacher quality in remote areas by training and supporting teachers to give children the best possible education.

Education is a key plank of our ten–year plan to build Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory, where we are funding more teachers, training and support to improve teacher quality, and initiatives to help make sure every child attends school every day.

2012—13 Budget initiatives to close the gap in schooling

Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory — Building Schooling Outcomes

To improve schooling outcomes in the Northern Territory, the Government has responded with $583.4 million over ten years in the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Package.

Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory — Building a Quality School Workforce

The Government heard from people in the Northern Territory that they wanted to see more and higher quality teachers working with their children, as well as well–trained local teachers. The Government has responded with three linked initiatives.

Additional teachers

The Government will continue to support 200 teachers and engagement officers in remote Northern Territory schools.

Commonwealth funding will continue at current levels for four years. After that period, the Commonwealth's funding will begin to gradually taper down to allow the Northern Territory Government to take on its responsibility for funding teachers and the education system.

Quality teaching

The Government is also providing better support for those teachers so they are ready to teach in remote communities. We are making a ten–year investment in support and training programs to ensure teachers have the skills to get better literacy and numeracy results for Aboriginal children. Programs will also ensure teachers have the skills they need to teach with English as a second language children and how to ensure children with hearing or learning difficulties get the best possible education.

The Government is also continuing funding to build career paths and improve qualifications so local people can become teachers and educational workers in their communities.

Teacher housing

The Australian Government will build around 100 teacher houses in remote Northern Territory communities over the next nine years to address critical staff housing shortages and help attract and retain high quality teachers in remote schools.

Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory — School Nutrition Program

The School Nutrition Program provides nutritionally sound meals to approximately 5,000 students in participating schools in the Northern Territory. School meals improve student behaviour, attention and health. The Government will continue to provide funding for the program, but will work with the Northern Territory Government to redesign the program to become self–funding with the Australian Government contribution reducing over time.

Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory — Expansion of the School Enrolment and Attendance Measure (SEAM)

Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory have been clear that they want children to attend school regularly and that parents have a responsibility to help make this happen. As announced in the 2011 Mid–Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook the Australian Government is providing funding to both improve and expand the current School Enrolment and Attendance Measure (SEAM) so that it aligns with the NT Government's Every Child Every Day attendance policy to provide a clear and consistent set of supports and consequences for parents whose children do not attend school regularly.

This funding also helps manage unacceptable levels of under–enrolment. Education authorities and Centrelink will now be able to share data to ensure children are enrolled in a school and attending school even if they move during the school year. This will prevent children from falling through the cracks, especially where families move frequently.

The measure will be able to apply to all parents on income support in affected areas.

Teach Remote Stage 2

As well as specific work in the Northern Territory, the Government is helping to create a more stable teaching and learning environment for all students living in remote and very remote locations in Australia. Funding of $14.3 million over three years for Teach Remote Stage 2, will help the National Alliance of Remote Indigenous Schools to continue its work to attract and retain high calibre teachers in remote areas.

This funding will help by:

  • providing a new funding pool of up to $6 million over two years, to allow schools within the National Alliance for Remote Indigenous Schools partnership to offer salary supplements in order to attract and retain up to 200 highly qualified and experienced staff in remote schools
  • providing a professional development bonus for new teachers so they can undertake focused training in best practice in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in remote settings
  • resolving teacher registration and mobility issues
  • partnering new teachers with an experienced principal or teacher mentor.

Expanding the Sporting Chance Program

The Government is providing $4.8 million over three years to support the Clontarf Foundation to establish and operate new school–based academies for Indigenous secondary school boys in New South Wales.

This funding will also support the establishment of new strategies aimed at improving school engagement among Indigenous girls.

The Australian Government already has agreements and investments in place to improve education outcomes for Indigenous students and help meet Closing the Gap targets. These 2012‑13 Budget initiatives complement and build on the three Smarter Schools National Partnership Agreements.

These agreements focus on the special needs of disadvantaged students, especially Indigenous students, and invest $2.5 billion in the wider education system.

The Improving Teacher Quality National Partnership is delivering system–wide reforms over five years from 2008—09 to 2012—13, while more than one–quarter of Australian schools are being assisted under the National Partnership Agreements on Literacy and Numeracy and Low Socio–Economic Status School Communities.

The new Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory education initiatives build on existing commitments.

The Australian Government provided $44.3 million over the three years to June 2012 under the Closing the Gap in the Northern Territory National Partnership Agreement. This funding enabled education providers to improve student literacy and numeracy outcomes and upskill local Indigenous Education Workers in targeted remote communities. It added to a previous $25.2 million investment in quality teaching and enhancing literacy measures.

To date, the Australian Government has provided $107.8 million over the last four years to recruit, train and deploy up to 200 extra teachers.

The Australian Government is providing over $11 million to support the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Program which will deliver over 50,000 custom built laptops to primary students in regional and remote Australia as part of a 12 month pilot program. The OLPC Australia Organisation (OLPC Australia) aims to support the learning opportunities of indigenous children, particularly those in remote Australia, by providing primary school aged children with a connected XO laptop as part of a sustainable training and support program. Participating schools will also receive information and communications technology (ICT) coordinator professional development, local repair kits, and access to helpdesk and online support. The Government will also continue its support of OLPC Australia through its listing as a deductible gift recipient for taxation purposes to 2015–16.

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