Competition on a global stage
Choosing a school for your child is one of the most important decisions parents make in life. How many barbecues or parties have we attended where school choice is the hot topic, whether it’s starting “big school” or transitioning to secondary school?
We are fortunate in NSW to have so much choice in schooling, both within the government and non-government sectors. There are schools that provide fantastic support to students of every ability range, as well as specialist schools for visual arts, creative and performing arts, sport, and gifted and talented students. Students with disabilities and other special needs are educated within mainstream schools or in schools for specific purposes.
This year in NSW we are even establishing our first virtual school to connect students thousands of kilometres apart and provide them with access to quality teachers and curriculum. Technology is making the tyranny of distance redundant.
It is a privilege to be Minister for Education for all schools in this state. We have more than 750,000 students in 2218 government schools and almost 400,000 students in 917 non-government schools.
There is no special formula for choosing a school, although there are resources available that assist decision making. I always suggest visiting schools and meeting the principal to get a feel for the values and priorities of individual schools.
Schools that welcome parental involvement always give off a good vibe. Schools know that children achieve more, have higher aspirations and self-esteem when their parents play an active role in their school.
“There is no special formula for choosing a school, although there are resources available that assist decision-making. I always suggest visiting schools and meeting the principal to get a feel for the values and priorities of individual schools.”
It’s true that technology has dramatically changed education. Today’s students compete on a global stage where skills and knowledge are the new currency and where teachers are preparing them for jobs that are yet to be created.
Our schools are changing too, to meet the needs of 21st-century students. In the past four years in NSW we have made significant reforms aimed at lifting education performance across all schools and school sectors. We have used data and evidence to inform every change and have looked closely at the lessons of high-performing education systems around
We are putting a lot of time and effort into raising the quality of the teaching workforce, because we know that’s the most important in-school influence on student achievement. We want every teacher to be great, not just average, so we have introduced reforms at every stage of the teacher career cycle.
We have invested in a state plan for lifting the literacy and numeracy achievements of students in the early years of school and the midway data is showing substantial progress.
In our government schools we are continuing to devolve more decision-making at the local level, with the school principal who is best placed to make decisions about the needs of students. Public school principals will eventually control 70 per cent of the school education budget, compared to the 10 per cent they controlled two years ago.
NSW was also the first state or territory to adopt a needs-based school funding model, based on the principles of the Gonski review, so we now allocate resources to students who need it most, regardless of school, sector or postcode.
Our reforms are aimed at providing an excellent learning environment for children and young people in all schools. As parents we are our children’s first teachers, so it is natural we take the decision as to where they will go to school seriously. Education is an investment in their future and the gift we pass from one generation to the next.