Closing Gap in school education

The Liberal Nationals Government is investing $126 million to improve school education for thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

NAPLAN data shows that Indigenous students are, on average, more than two years behind their non-Indigenous peers in Year 3 and the gap grows over time.

This significant new investment focuses on scaling-up programs that we know lift outcomes for Indigenous students particularly in reading, mathematics, attendance and school completion.

The new measures form part of the Government’s Closing the Gap Implementation Plan and include:

  • $75 million to build three new remote boarding schools in Western Australia and the Northern Territory under the innovative Studio Schools model;
  • $26 million to create partnerships between high-performing city schools and regional and remote schools which will improve leadership, teacher practice, and student outcomes;
  • $10 million to implement targeted teaching practices and increase attendance in remote WA schools, drawing on the proven success of the Kimberley Schools Project;
  • $8 million to grow the MultiLit (Making Up Lost Time in Literacy) program, which delivers proven, phonics-based reading instruction in primary schools.
  • $5 million to expand the pilot run by Good to Great Schools Australia, bringing total funding to $10.8m, which is improving teacher practice and reading outcomes through explicit instruction.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said the investment would provide tangible benefits for young Indigenous Australians.

“Boosting literacy skills, improving student outcomes and lifting school attendance are key drivers of better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth,” Minister Wyatt said.

“This new package builds on existing successful education partnerships and programs that support the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, to improve outcomes, particularly the attainment of Year 12 or equivalent qualifications.”

Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge said the investment was focussed on programs that have already shown significant positive impacts on Indigenous student results.

“This additional money is deliberately aimed at scaling up practices that work, such as phonics and explicit instruction,” Minister Tudge said.

“The evidence is there that it does make a difference and so we are confident that thousands of children will improve their learning as a result of this.

“If we don’t close the gap at preschool and school, then we will struggle to do so in other areas.

“Our top Independent schools have significant resources and expertise that can be a game-changer for remote schools in Indigenous communities to give their students a world-class education.

“The Studio Schools model has had extraordinary success in the Kimberley, with massive gains in attendance, Year 12 completion and transitions to work. I’m excited to see this model expanded to a further three locations where it is greatly needed.”

Minister for Regionalisation, Regional Communications and Regional Education Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie said the measures would support young Indigenous Australians who need to move away from home to access secondary schooling.

“Studying away from home is a necessity for many students from remote communities, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who do not always have access to a local secondary school close to home,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Our funding commitment will support the development of three new residential schools to be built in Western Australia and the Northern Territory over the next four years, and upgrades to a fourth existing boarding school.

“Together, these facilities will help support the educational needs of Indigenous students and builds upon the $16.6 million in the 2021-22 Budget to assist boarding school providers to better meet the needs of Indigenous students from remote locations.”

The measures are in addition to the $122 million investment in quality early childhood education that also form part of the Closing the Gap Implementation Plan.

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