ACT Budget: $51 million to support equity in ACT schools

The ACT Government will make major investments to support and ensure equal opportunity for children and young people in our local schools, committing an additional $51 million to school equity programs over the next four years.

We believe that every child should be given the opportunity to thrive and succeed in ACT public schools. This package will support a range of new and renewed policy initiatives to improve access, equity and inclusion for all students.

The Budget continues delivering the government’s ten-year Future of Education strategy, recognising the many additional challenges facing our school communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initiatives include:

  • More than $21 million over the next four years to ensure all year 7 to 12 students have access to a Chromebook, including an additional $2.8 million over four years to provide internet access to any secondary school student who needs it and fund a new e-safety program.
  • $12.5 million over four years to continue the ACT’s nation-leading, ten-year plan for early childhood education called Set Up For Success. The funds will support providers and services that cater for three year old children experiencing vulnerability or disadvantage. The funding will also increase the number of scholarships for an early childhood teacher degree to 12.
  • A new $11.5 million Future of Education Equity Fund to replace the high school bursary scheme, reaching an estimated five times as many students.
  • An additional 25 youth and social workers will be employed at a cost of $7.4 million over the next four years to provide early intervention and support for students and their families.
  • $1.5 million for a two-year trial to provide 1,500 vulnerable students with access to free breakfast and lunch three days a week throughout the school year.
  • $450,000 over the next two years to work with young people with disability, their families, and the broader community to review how public schools deliver inclusive education.
  • $445,000 to provide ongoing free and confidential legal advice to public college students – particularly important as we see cases of domestic and family violence increase during the pandemic.

The ACT Government is determined to ensure that regardless of a student’s circumstances or unique needs they will receive an inclusive education that not only delivers better academic, social and wellbeing outcomes, but helps create a more equitable society.

Quotes attributable to Chief Minister, Andrew Barr:

As we continue to meet the challenges of this pandemic, the ACT Government has prioritised spending on the future of our children and young people to ensure they develop the knowledge and skills to operate in our rapidly changing world.

A number of these measures were commitments ACT Labor took to the 2020 election as part of our plan to ensure every ACT public school is a great school.

Quotes attributable to Education Minister, Yvette Berry

We have a responsibility to ensure that every young person has access to a great education, taking into account and responding to their circumstances and unique needs.

As we move into the next phase of our ten-year Future of Education strategy, the government has significantly increased funding to make education more inclusive, give students more of a say in their learning, support a workforce of the future and give young people the best possible start in life.

/Public Release. View in full here.