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Labor responds to critical issues for Independent sector

 

The ALP has offered the following assurances in relation to Independent school sector critical issues.

 

School funding

Labor have made the commitment that the direct funding relationship between Independent schools and the Australian Government will prioritise fair, transparent and predictable needs-based funding arrangements for every school.

Labor has sought initial advice from the Department of Education and Training on the progress of income measure modelling.

An incoming ALP government will consult extensively with the sector and ensure there is a reasonable timeframe prior to the implementation of any changes to funding arrangements that will impact on individual Independent schools or systems.

Labor has committed that prior to implementation of a new direct income measure they will need to be satisfied that there has been adequate stakeholders consultation; there is agreement on data and assumptions; testing provides a full understanding of the impact of the proposed model on a school by school basis; the model is transparent, predictable and needs-based; and that the transition to new arrangements supports stability.

The ALP will not be held to deadlines for implementation set by others unless they are satisfied that a new model can be successfully implemented. In addition, they will closely monitor the progress of consultation around the new measures and will give schools certainty about arrangements for 2020 well before the end of 2019.

Labor is committed to matching the Government’s current funding for non­ government schools, which includes the funding announced for the Choice and Affordability Fund.

 

Students with disability

A Labor government will maintain student loadings which recognise the additional cost of delivering an inclusive education, including the students with disability loading.

In February 2019 Labor announced an extra $300 million over three years from 2020 for students with a disability, on top of the students with disability loading. A Labor Government will also prioritise the current National School Resourcing Board review of the loading for students with disability, and deliver a comprehensive and timely response to the Board’s recommendations.

A Labor Government will also support eligible students and their families by getting the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) back on track. The experiences of people with disability of the NDIS have often been poor. The NDIS rollout has been too slow – with over 77,000 people missing out as a result.

A Labor Government will establish a NDIS Future Fund – guaranteeing that every dollar budgeted for the NDIS, goes to the NDIS. Labor will also lift the staffing cap on the National Disability Insurance Agency, increasing the number of skilled permanent employees to improve services and reduce waiting times for plans, approvals and reviews.

Teaching

Labor recognises the importance of better equipping teachers to meet the learning needs of all students. A Labor government will work with Education Council to propose new Initial Teacher Education Standards to support and skill teachers to meet the needs students with disability.

Labor will also ask the new National Evidence Institute for Schools to examine the role of learning support staff, and how these support staff can be best used in support of disability inclusive classrooms.

 

Indigenous students

In regard to Indigenous students, Labor has launched a comprehensive policy statement on A Fair Go For First Nations People, in which they recommit to Closing the Gap and achieving genuine equality for First Nations People. This includes a commitment to the equal right to a great education.

A Labor Government will maintain student loadings which recognise the additional cost of delivering an inclusive education, including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander student loading.

Labor notes the role that Independent schools have played over many years as the largest provider of boarding education for Indigenous students in Australia. Labor understands that these students have additional health, welfare, family and community liaison and pastoral care requirements.

The AISNSW pilot of Improving Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students is a valuable example of addressing the disparities in education outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. It is also an example of participation by First Nations people in developing and evaluating the services and programs being deliver in their communities.

In addition, Labor has the following practical policies to close the Education Gap:

National Pre-School And Kindy Program

Under Labor, every Australian child will receive 15 hours a week of subsidised early learning in the two years before they start school. This will help ensure all children – but particularly children from disadvantaged background, including many First Nations’ children – get benefit from quality early learning.

National Summit on First Nations’ Children

In recent years, the number of First Nations’ children removed from their families has risen rapidly. Similarly, the rate of incarceration of First Nations children remains too high. To respond to these issues – and other issues that affect First Nations children – Labor will convene a national summit on First Nations Children in their first 100 days of government. The summit will bring together governments, community members and experts.

First Nations Early Childhood Educators

Labor will provide a pay rise for Early Childhood Educators, some of the lowest paid workers in Australia. They will also provide 200 fee-free places for Indigenous people to study Early Childhood Education at TAFE.

Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience

Labor will provide $9 million for the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) to continue their program that supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students transition from high school to university.

Empowering Indigenous Girls through Education

Labor will provide $19.5 million on top of existing investments to create almost 8,000 new places in the Stars Foundation’s successful programs to tackle educational disadvantage faced by First Nations’ girls and young women – tripling the number of girls supported each year.

Improving Participation in Higher Education

Labor will develop a new closing the gap target aimed at increasing First Nations’ people’s participation in higher and further education, ensuring greater opportunity for First Nations’ peoples to continue their learning in the fields of their choice. Labor will also help double the number of First Nations’ students at the University of Technology Sydney by investing $20 million towards a new landmark Indigenous Residential College. Labor will invest $2 million over four years to boost the number of Indigenous PhD and postdoctoral students in health, in partnership with the Poche Centre.

 

Capital funding

In government, Labor will maintain the commitment to capital funding through the Capital Grants Program.

 

National Online Learning Services

An incoming Labor Government will ask the Department of Education and Training to provide options to protect and restore support to the digital multi-use learning resources that assist classroom teachers to deliver the Australian curriculum.

 

Copyright

An incoming Labor government will also seek early advice on the sustainability of the operation of the National Copyright Unit (NCU) and the impact of the Government’s decision to withdraw funding from the NCU. They state they are committed to working with the Independent sector to understand the issues faced by the Independent schools sector in relation to the NCU.

 

National School Chaplaincy Program

In regard to the National School Chaplaincy Program, Labor state that they value the hard work and commitment of school chaplains, counsellors and support staff who play a key role in student welfare. Their priority is making sure students have the support they need so they can focus on learning.

The Labor party extended and expanded the chaplaincy program twice when last in government, funding an additional 1,000 schools to take part in the program. They support the funding allocated in the 2018 Budget to extend the chaplaincy program through to the 2022 school year. If successful at the next election, Labor will continue the allocated funding and also give schools the option to choose a professionally qualified secular student welfare officer.

Labor believes that principals and school communities are best placed to understand their students’ needs, which is why they will give schools to a choice about the services they need and staff they hire.

 

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