Fremantle candidates have say on education

Education appears to have been overshadowed as a State Election issue in Fremantle.
Education appears to have been overshadowed as a State Election issue in Fremantle.

CANDIDATES for Fremantle in the upcoming State Election had a lot to say about education.

Read their full thoughts below.

Simone McGurk (Labor):

Since 2014, the Barnett Liberal Government has cut $203 million from public education.

This has had a significant impact on schools in the Fremantle electorate.

A Labor Government believes in investing in education and will put education assistants back in the classroom.

I am keen to see Fremantle College succeed in becoming a new school of excellence in the Fremantle electorate.

Fremantle College will be successful if a wide range of ATAR subjects is available to students.

I also think it is essential to listen to the ideas of the local community, so that we can ensure the new school serves their children’s education in the best possible way.

Local schools need to be resourced in accordance with the areas they serve.

It is essential to ensure that children’s education is not compromised when the areas around them grow.

Further afield, a Labor Government has committed to building 10 new schools in high-growth areas.

One of the most critical ways to improve education in Fremantle is to put Education Assistants back into our classrooms.

The Barnett Government cut 400 Education Assistants, 550 teaching positions and 105 Aboriginal and Islander education officers across WA.

Education assistants play an integral role in the education of our students by giving extra support for children who need it most and assisting teachers so they can get on with the job of teaching.

A Labor Government has also committed to working with local schools to open up opportunities for more childcare as well as before and after school care to assist parents in meeting the challenges of work-life balance.

STEM subjects are critical for children to prepare for the jobs of the future.

A Labor Government will invest $17 million to roll out science labs in up to 200 primary schools and provide new science equipment.

As opposition minister for women’s interests, I am also passionate to make sure girls are encouraged into STEM.

It is essential that we provide better options for further education and training beyond primary and secondary schooling.

The Barnett Liberal Government gutted Western Australia’s TAFE system and has increased courses fees by up to 500 per cent, A Labor Government will bring back the TAFE brand to ensure students have real vocational training options after they leave school.

Since I was elected in 2013, I have connected with the many parents who have been active in their school P&Cs.

That is something that has been critical for me to understand the needs of local schools.

If I am successful in being re-elected on March 11 that is something I am keen to continue.

In my experience, P&Cs are powerhouses at the centre of our community.

Hayden Shenton (Liberal):

The electorate of Fremantle has a broad range of demographics and students alike.

Fremantle College has been developed to provide a broad, high level curriculum encompassing academic programs and vocational courses will provide students with opportunities to pursue learning interests that inspire and challenge them, whether they aspire to go on to university, further training or employment after they graduate.

The college will also run a Gifted and Talented Secondary Selective Academic Program.

High quality pastoral care support and programs for students will help them develop a sense of belongingness so each student cultivates a positive self-image.

Strong business, industry and tertiary education partnerships will enhance the quality of learning and provide access to programs that align with the future needs of the Fremantle community.

The college will include a state-of-the-art maritime trade training centre, Olympic-sized swimming pool and cutting edge music centre.

Science laboratories and a performing arts centre will be built specifically to give students access to specialist subject teaching and learning environments.

Innovate Australia has found that we have a high ranking on the international level for talent and ingenuity which can be realised further with STEM and the future development of Australia in various industries therefore employment security.

Mathematics and English are still very important base subjects for all students.

Martin Spencer (Greens):

The biggest issue facing Fremantle is the undermining of the Tafe system as well as the over- casualisation of Tafe teaching.

There are positives and negatives to the amalgamation of South Fremantle and Hamilton High Schools.

The amalgamation allows for a greater access to a wider range of subjects because of greater numbers and allows for increased investment in the upgrade of the buildings.

There is a concern though about the increased competition between public schools and the reliance of specialisations to attract students outside the catchment.

The increased infill will provide a more diverse choice of housing and may free up some of the larger homes in suburban areas for younger families.

The historical layout of schools in the area make redevelopment difficult, however there is opportunity to increase capacity of schools through innovative development.

The Greens will initiate and support legislation that provides equitable access to a quality education for all students.

We will also advocate for governments to have overall responsibility for public school finances and staffing.

We also support inclusion of the history, culture and contemporary experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the school curriculum.

Although we see STEM as being important to drive investment in parts of the future development of our State, we also see the importance of protecting the VET and Tafe systems.

There needs to be a balance to cater for the needs of all students.

Education empowers people; it should by seen by the State as an entitlement to all people not a burden on the State.

The Government has a primary responsibility to fund the public education system to provide high quality education for all students.

A TAFE system that is publicly owned and properly funded is essential.

Chris Jenkins (Socialist Alliance):

Ensuring the local public school is the best it can be is the absolute priority.

This requires the allocation of funding towards overcoming disadvantage rather than sustaining a hierarchy of privileged and under-resourced schools.

Students should not have to crisscross the metro area in search of the best opportunities; the school round the corner should provide the same high-quality level of education as any other.

All public funding needs to go towards public schooling.

Achieving best results also requires the active participation of students, parents and teachers in framing and fulfilling the curriculum.

These are not issues specific to Fremantle, but are relevant to the education system across the state and nationally.

Bigger does not neccesary imply better, particularly if it means some students will need to travel further to school.

In this specific case (Fremantle College), where both schools are experiencing a want of enrolments, amalgamation might suit that circumstance, but if that is the case then every effort should be made to ensure the new school offers the full spectrum of vocational and academic pathways to its students.

Local schools need to remain just that: local.

If larger schools prove necessary due to lack of physical space, then this must be done in a manner, which does not see class sizes increase. Decent public transport options must also ensure that students and parents do not face increased time challenges travelling to and from places of learning.

Local education content should reflect the place of learning.

In the case of Walyalup (Fremantle) it is important the curriculum include culturally appropriate classes in Nyoongar culture and history, as well as language.

Students are offered a range of languages in schools, but not those of the First Nations peoples, and this should change as part of any genuine de-colonisation process.

This should be achieved through ongoing consultation with, and participation of, local traditional custodians.

STEM subjects are obviously important; however, education cannot be limited to equipping young people to perform certain jobs in tech-heavy industries.

The arts and social sciences need to be equally encouraged to support creativity and a broader awareness of social dynamics and issues.

Integrated support programs need to be in place for children from disadvantaged background and kids with disabilities, not only within schools but also in the community to provide assistance.

Programs like Breakfast Clubs should exist to build community and ensure good dietry intake for students.

Schools in Aboriginal communities should work primarily in local language and be culturally based, with priority given to training and supporting Aboriginal teachers and staff.

Cultural programs should exist to help those students from community studying away from home in urban centres.

Tafe, alongside all places of public learning, should be made free and the budget cuts reversed to help young people get training.

We should learn from what works elsewhere.

Finland has the best educational system in the OECD, has no publicly funded private schools, much fewer hours in class per day and no homework.

While this might seem counterintuitive, we should genuinely investigate this phenomena.

Education must be conceptualised as nurturing the full development of human beings, and not about fashioning workers capable of making money for the wealthy.

Warren Duffy (One Nation):

Many families are struggling with increased fees for stationery and excursions.

It is important that no child is disadvantaged through the economic downturn.

Education costs to the end of high school should be minimal.

Taxes are there for a reason and we expect our governments to provide the basics.

We support continued funding of chaplains, counsellors and teachers assistants as they are an integral part of our education at a time when many families are experiencing varying pressures.

Bigger is not better! The sense of community and belonging can be lost in a one stop amalgamated school but unfortunately it is too late to turn back the clock on the new Fremantle College.

We hope that classrooms sizes are small and we expect a full range of ATAR subjects at this school together with a GATE programme.

Infill is something we are not keen on. Children need space to relax and rejuvenate.

We can improve education by focusing on the basics (three Rs). Australia now lags behind other countries.

We need to stop the fixation on league tables, ensure that teaching is once again given the value it once held, protect teachers from disruptive pupils and encourage excellence.

All schools whether public or private should be equally funded.

All students deserve to get the same quality of education.

We need education that equips children for the jobs of the future.

Installing STEM at an earlier age will widen children’s interests and play an important role in future vocational opportunities.

It is important that children have a rounded education but also that education meets future demands in the workplace.

The Safe Schools Programme needs to be removed from schools as it is not solely an anti-bullying program.

It is a Trojan horse for a political agenda promoting LGBTI lifestyles and its founder has acknowledged this.

Some of the material that pupils have access to would shock parents.

Alternative “Respect” programmes and anti-bullying measures are better.