Speech – Public Education Foundation

PUBLIC EDUCATION FOUNDATION
THURSDAY, 9 MAY 2024
** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY **

G’day everyone.

Can I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which you have gathered, the Gadigal people, and pay my respects to elders past and present.

I also want to acknowledge the Deputy Premier of NSW, Prue Car and thank her for everything she is doing for public education right now, right across NSW.

Like many of you in the Town Hall tonight, I am the product of public education and proud of it.

Tonight is an opportunity to celebrate our great public school teachers, and our great education system and everything it does.

Education is the most powerful cause for good – and our public education system is at the core of that.

It brings together children from all different backgrounds, different faiths, and cultures. Parents with different jobs, different incomes, and different lives.

And that’s important, because it means our schools are a microcosm of our community and teaches us about one another.

It’s a big part of what makes public education so special. So important.

We’ve got a good education system today, but the truth is it can be better and a lot fairer.

Addressing the teacher shortage crisis is part of that.

Pay is part of that and it’s why the work that Prue and the NSW Government have done to boost the pay of teachers is so important.

So is workload. The idea that teachers clock on at 9am and knock off at 3 is rubbish, and we are working together on ways to reduce workload. 

Respect is important too, and that’s what the Be That Teacher campaign is all about. 

Fundamentally that campaign is about changing the way our country thinks of our teachers and the way our teachers think the country thinks of them.

It’s about recognising the fact that it’s what our teachers do that help students aim higher, to work harder, to be braver, to be kinder, and to believe in themselves. 

And that makes what our teachers do the most important job in the world.

At the moment, for the first time in a long time, the Government is rolling out Commonwealth Teaching Scholarships worth 40 grand each, and it comes with a requirement that you have to commit to working in a public school for up to four years.

And this week, I announced that for the first time, the Commonwealth Government will fund a Prac Payment for teaching students doing their prac.

This is a big investment that will provide a bit of practical cost of living help for student teachers doing their practical training.

As you know, we also need to fund our public schools properly.

It’s why the Albanese Government has put $16 billion in additional funding for public schools on the table – this would be the biggest increase in Commonwealth funding to public schools that has ever been delivered.

Already this year, I have reached agreements with Western Australia and the Northern Territory to get all public schools to 100 per cent of the Schooling Resource Standard.

I want to do the same right across the country. The Commonwealth chipping in and the States chipping in.

That funding is important, but so is what it does. What it’s used for.

To help the children who need our help the most.

To catch up, to keep up and to finish school.

At the moment the number of kids finishing high school is going backwards, particularly in our public schools.

From 83 per cent to 73 per cent over the last 7 years.

This is what we need to fix. What we need to turn around.

The horrible truth is how much your parents earn matters.

So does where you live. And so does the colour of your skin.

If you’re a child from a poor family, today, you’re less likely to go to childcare, you’re more likely to fall behind in primary school, you’re more likely to not finish high school and you’re less likely to go on to TAFE or university.

The same is true if you grow up in the bush or if you’re Indigenous.

The next National School Reform Agreement is a real chance to do something about that. To close that funding gap and close that education gap.

And that’s what I want to do this year.

Build a better and a fairer education system. 

One that doesn’t hold anyone back and doesn’t leave anyone behind.

After all, that’s what public education is all about.

Congratulations to everyone receiving a scholarship tonight, thank you for everything that you do and have a great night.

ENDS