Education is a universal human right irrespective of culture, gender, academic ability, geographic location or socio-economic status. One of the central responsibilities of Government is therefore to ensure that education is available to all children and youth. The education system must be student-centric, with a view to ensuring that the educational outcome of each individual student is maximised.
The purpose of assessment is to serve as a diagnostic educational tool to measure progress against the curriculum. Assessments should inform teaching and learning by helping students gauge their achievements and identify where they can improve, and by allowing educators to measure the strengths of their courses and areas needing improvement. Assessments should exist as part of an educational framework that fosters creative inquiry and intellectual rigour and equips students with the tools to think and learn autonomously. For assessments to be fair and useful diagnostic tools, they must be directly linked to the curriculum. Within this educational framework, the role of professional educators is to guide students in their intellectual development.
We call for school infrastructure in NSW government schools to be fit for purpose, and for meaningful, good faith community consultation for all school infrastructure planning and development to take place, with parents and carers being considered as key stakeholders.
Adequate funding from the NSW Government for both new and existing school sites is essential, and schools and the Department should not rely on parent and community contributions to fund essential infrastructure.
Online tools can be valuable resources for enhancing students’ learning experiences and improving educational outcomes. Every student in the government school system has the right to access technology education. The government has a responsibility to fund and resource schools with technology that supports student learning, and to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by the availability of technology resources.
There are legitimate concerns about the impact of mobile digital devices on education in classrooms. Schools and governments should work with the school community to develop policies regarding the use of mobile devices in schools.
Any ban on personal mobile devices should include reasonable exceptions for educational purposes or for students with disabilities or health problems.
Governments at all levels should fund education on a basis that is adequate, equitable and needs-based, with the goal of helping each individual student to progress toward attainment of their full potential. We call for government schools to be funded to 100% of the recommended amount under the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).
Any funds generated through fundraising or school services should be used to support extracurricular activities for students rather than educational.
The P&C Federation supports the right of students to take Special Religious Education (SRE) classes, Special Education in Ethics (SEE) classes, or neither. There is no justifiable reason, however, to treat SRE and SEE classes differently than any other classes. Therefore, students who do not take these classes should be free to do other meaningful curriculum-related work while SRE/SEE classes are running.
We believe in a learning environment that supports the physical, emotional, and intellectual growth of each individual student. By providing a variety of courses and learning experiences, schools can help students develop the knowledge, skills, and competencies they need to succeed in life.
Career education should be an important component of curriculum, so that students are prepared to make informed decisions about their future and achieve economic independence.
Literacy and numeracy are fundamental skills that are essential for success in both school and life. All children should have equal access to learning experiences, intervention programs, and support services that will help them develop these skills. Parents play an important role in promoting literacy and numeracy, and schools and other agencies can provide support to help parents create an environment that is conducive to learning.
However, the primary responsibility for teaching literacy and numeracy lies with the school. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that schools have the resources they need to provide quality education to all students.
We acknowledge that behaviour management in schools has been a growing concern. In recent years, a challenge has been the need to balance two important needs:
- The right of all children to learn in a safe environment free from disruption, and for schools to be able to manage non-compliant students
- Addressing the possibility that historic student behaviour policies adversely affected students whose behavioural issues stemmed from disability, special needs, trauma or child protection
Designing student behavioural policies that effectively address and balance both needs, with sufficient resourcing, is the key priority.
We call for all policies related to student behaviour in schools to be effective and sufficiently funded, to ensure they lead to a safe and conducive learning environment for all students (and staff).
Education must be inclusive for all students, including those with disabilities. The government school system must provide the necessary infrastructure, resources, and support to ensure good outcomes for students with special needs. This includes (but is not limited to) accessible facilities, ramps, lifts, hearing loops, signing interpreters, and other accommodations. Human resources such as support workers and SLSOs should be available to help students with disabilities participate fully in their education.
Furthermore, in line with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the P&C Federation promotes recognition and acceptance within the community of the principle that students with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as the rest of the community. It is therefore vital to support the elimination, as far as possible, of discrimination against children on the grounds of disability in public education settings. In the P&C Federation’s view, this will strengthen the likelihood of success of any child with disability as far as practicable.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in Australia face significant disadvantages in education. They experience lower levels of academic achievement, higher rates of absenteeism, and are less likely to complete high school than non-Aboriginal students. This is due to a range of factors, including poverty, poor health, lack of access to quality education, and cultural barriers. We strongly recommend partnering with Aboriginal communities to ensure that the curriculum is culturally appropriate and engaging youth in a culturally safe school is a community-led solution to addressing these issues. The P&C Federation believes through providing a culturally safe learning environment and incorporating Aboriginal perspectives and knowledge into the curriculum, we can help improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal students. This will require a long- term commitment from government, educators, and the wider community to provide the necessary resources and support to ensure that Aboriginal students have the opportunity to succeed. This will also help achieve the Government and Department of Education’s closing the gap initiative.
We acknowledge that P&C Associations can face administrative and compliance obstacles in their mission to assist their school communities.
We support, and will advocate for, the streamlining of administration related to running a P&C Association wherever possible.
Some examples are: the need for P&C Associations to submit yearly reports to multiple entities; the requirement to navigate multiple Fair Work awards to operate and employ paid staff in multiple services; and the difficulty of amending a P&C Association’s details (such as the entity type or authorised contact person) that are attached to its Australian Business Number (ABN).
Attracting and retaining volunteers is a challenge for P&C Associations, and the volume of compliance work is a factor. Our support for P&Cs includes working with government agencies and other stakeholders to rationalise compliance where possible, with the aim of allowing P&C volunteers to focus on their core purpose of supporting schools.
As education is a universal human right, no student should face disadvantages in education due to their geographic location. It is crucial that governments ensure that educational experiences and resources in regional, rural and remote schools are of equal quality to those available in metropolitan schools. It is also important that students in non-metropolitan areas have equitable access to transport to and from their schools, can represent their school in state or national events with no undue financial burden, and are sufficiently equipped to transition to higher education or employment upon completing their secondary education.
Teaching is among the most important professions in any society. The purpose of teaching is to help students achieve the best possible educational outcomes, with a view to helping students become productive and contributing members of society. Teachers are the backbone of our education system. We support and respect teachers and principals and expect to work closely with them on issues affecting the education of our children.