A record $14.2 billion in education funding has been allocated by the Palaszczuk Government in the 2020-21 State Budget.
Education Minister Grace Grace said this includes a record $1.9 billion infrastructure spend so that all Queensland children, no matter where they live, will benefit from world-class facilities at school.
“Our massive education infrastructure budget means more jobs for Queenslanders and will help drive economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ms Grace said.
“We are delivering more classrooms, new schools and better facilities that will give our students the best opportunities for the future.”
Ms Grace said the planned investment builds on the $5.2 billion spent on school infrastructure by the Palaszczuk Government since 2015.
“As well as big ticket items like new school halls, performing arts centres and new classroom blocks, the work will also include smaller projects including refurbishments to amenities blocks, playground upgrades, security fencing, and improved facilities to ensure our schools are accessible for all students,” she said.
“This will ensure Queensland students continue to learn the best facilities, while supporting a total of more than 3,100 construction jobs.
“A $433 million building blitz will see 46 new classroom or administration buildings built, supporting 1,300 jobs.
“These projects vary from single classroom expansions to major projects in the tens of millions of dollars.
“Another $110 million will fund 172 refurbishment and renewal projects, including projects like upgrades to school learning and support spaces.”
The State Budget also includes $258 million over four years to deliver 26 new multi-purpose halls and performing arts centres, 11 extensions/enclosures to existing halls, supporting 775 jobs.
“Halls and performing arts centres are important features of Queensland schools, enabling activities like indoor sports, performing arts and school functions and provide significant meeting facilities for local communities,” the Minister said.
“There is also $50 million for local shovel-ready projects in schools such as playground and fencing upgrades, supporting 148 jobs.
“As our communities grow, the education system needs to grow with them, and the Queensland Government is planning ahead to cater for fast growing communities across the state.
“That’s why we have invested $20 million over four years in planning for new schools.
“This is on top of eight new schools that opened in 2020, with at least nine more to open by 2023.”
Ms Grace said the Palaszczuk Government supports all schools, including the non-state sector, with $180 million also provided for school infrastructure in Catholic and Independent schools.
“While great infrastructure is one of the building blocks of a great education, the welfare of our students and staff is vitally important,” Ms Grace said.
“This is why this Budget includes $100 million over three years for a student wellbeing package to ensure every Queensland primary and secondary state school student has access to a psychologist or similar health and wellbeing professional.
“As part of this $100 million, more than $4 million will go towards establishing a pilot project placing GPs in 20 state secondary schools in areas of greatest need.
“It’s also exciting to announce that $2.5 million is being invested to give students free access to sanitary products at 120 state and non-state schools.
“The Palaszczuk Government will partner with Share the Dignity to deliver this program.”
Ms Grace said Queensland’s fantastic teachers, teacher aides and school staff are the backbone of schools across the state.
“And we will employ more than 6,100 teachers and 1,100 teacher aides over the next four years.
“We will also invest in a new Turn to Teaching paid internship program to attract aspiring teachers from other fields of work.
“Turn to Teaching will give 300 aspiring teachers financial support and real world teaching experience to complete their teaching qualification and guarantees a permanent teaching role at a state school upon completion.”
After-school homework centres will also be established at up to 120 state schools, providing supervision for homework activities with funding of $8 million over four years to support the initiative.
“A great start to their education should be accessible to all children, no matter where they live,” Ms Grace said.
“These homework centres will play a big part in supporting student and parents alike.
“And our Remote Kindy program will be expanded by providing $12 million over four years to include state schools more than 40km from the nearest kindergarten program provider.
“This program provides children in rural and remote communities the opportunity to attend a kindy program in a face-to-face environment at selected state schools.”
The Budget also features $45 million over three years to build and upgrade training facilities in 26 schools across the state to prepare students with the skills to secure jobs in their region, setting them up for the future.
“Every young person deserves a world class education and the chance to reach their full potential,” Ms Grace said.
“This includes equipping students with the skills and knowledge they need to move confidently into the world of work.
“As we deliver our plan for economic recovery and job creation, we want to ensure young people have the right skills for our regional economies to recover and grow.
“The Local Schools, Local Jobs program will create approximately 150 full-time jobs.
“This Budget provides the best educational opportunities for children and young people across the state so that we can continue to support a bright future for Queenslanders.”