Macquarie's Schools

November 28, 2018

The 2018 school year is coming to an end. I know that, as I get to more presentation days, I will continue to be blown away by the students in my local schools. With outstanding performances on the stage and the field, the HSC art and design works, and their involvement in involvement in the wider community with things like Remembrance Day and their visits to parliament, schools in the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury continually impress. But the Liberal Party's decision to withhold $14 billion from public schools puts at risk the future achievements of these students. A visit with my shadow minister for education last week showed the diversity of our schools from the Colo High School students, who so confidently talked to us about their social justice programs and their dams, to the Richmond North Public School students, Kimberly and Ella, who interviewed us on their school radio station, to the Hobartville Public School students, who showed their sensory learning space, which Labor has promised an additional $50,000 for, if we win the election.


More significant even than that is the commitment that Labor has to ensuring that public schools in Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury will be $16.5 million better off over the first three years of a Shorten Labor government. Each school will be able to spend this money in the way they see fit, because no-one knows a school better than their principal and their teachers. The principal of Blaxland High School, Nikki Tunica, said that she could use the extra $1.1 million Blaxland High is set to receive if Labor take office to employ an additional three teachers a year, giving teachers an extra hour a week to develop resources and differentiate lessons to cater for students with additional learning needs. She says that it might also be used on additional learning and support teachers and perhaps a social worker, noting the increasing anxiety young people are experiencing.


Every single school will receive additional funding to support kids with learning challenges, to extend kids who are already doing well and to ensure teachers have the skills and support that they need. For high schools like Katoomba and Winmalee, it's just under $1 million in additional funding over the first three years; for Colo High, it's just over $1 million. For the public schools of Glossodia, Wilberforce, Wentworth Falls, Hobartville and Hazelbrook, the additional funding estimates range from $250,000 to $410,000—an amount principals and teachers tell me really makes a difference.


In my electorate, education is highly valued. The Blue Mountains has more teachers per head of population than anywhere else in the country. These people are teachers and parents. They get what a transformative effect a high-quality education has on children's lives, especially when it's fairly funded. I know it. P&Cs know it. The Teachers Federation and the Australian Education Union know it. Labor know it, and we will make sure it happens, because this is the best investment in our society and our economy that anyone can make.