Better resourcing key to schools reaching potential

Published on Thursday, 10 August 2017 10:42

Education is the great driver and guarantor of opportunity and equality—and, of course, our schools exist to deliver that. But schools are more than that. They are community hubs and places where social capital is built and reinforced in the bonds between teachers, students and families and through links into the wider community.

Mr Wilson (10:42am) — One of the many privileges and joys of being a representative is the opportunity to visit schools in one's community. Education is the great driver and guarantor of opportunity and equality—and, of course, our schools exist to deliver that. But schools are more than that. They are community hubs and places where social capital is built and reinforced in the bonds between teachers, students and families and through links into the wider community.

In the last month or so, I have visited a number of schools across the seat of Fremantle to hear from principals, teachers and support staff and, most importantly, to engage with students. I had a lovely time meeting the year 6 class at Jandakot Primary, which not long ago visited Parliament House as part of their studies in democracy and government. They produced some colourful and detailed charts about the legislative process. To be honest, I wish I had taken some copies, because they were excellent and would have been very helpful to me as a new member. I know from my own experience that education involves an entire community. At Jandakot Primary School that starts with Principal Ian Hastings. I want to acknowledge his energy and leadership. I also want to acknowledge the school board chair, Brad McAullife, and the P&C President, Hayley King, who have both been actively engaged in improving the school's built environment and character, drawing on the Jandakot area's aeronautical heritage.

Further to the west, South Fremantle Senior High School and Hamilton Senior High School have begun the transition to the new Fremantle College, which will open its doors next year. I was glad to visit the site the other day to see the new building works. I thank Foundation Principal, Miles Draper, and his team for their passionate and practical commitment to revitalising and expanding the learning and innovation spaces. They are leading the transformation that my community has looked forward to for some time.

At Southwell Primary in Hamilton Hill I witnessed a lovely example of a small but close-knit school that works together to achieve the best possible outcomes for its students. Diversity is the foundation principle at Southwell, with 50 per cent of students coming from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background and another 25 per cent of the kids coming from migrant families. All children are taught to speak Nyungar, and there is a strong focus on Indigenous culture and history. I congratulate Principal Elizabeth Melville and all the teachers, education assistants and other staff for their work.

In my first year as a representative, I visited more than 25 local schools. In each of them I found teachers, students and community leaders dedicated to the great cause of education. But I have to reflect on those school visits with mixed feelings because I know that that network of school communities could be better enabled if it had better resources to respond on the basis of need and resources that meant more teachers and more help for students who will otherwise struggle to achieve their potential. Unfortunately, we have a government that has walked away from needs based schools funding. That means WA schools will receive hundreds of millions of dollars less than was listed in the last Barnett budget.

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