A quality education lays the foundation for opportunity and success and as a matter of principle, the Nationals WA believe every child should be given an equal opportunity to access a quality education no matter where they live.
Children brought up in regional Western Australia are disadvantaged by distance, isolation and the lack of access to educational resources and opportunities. The Nationals WA, through Royalties for Regions, have already provided $25 million to develop a new approach to teaching in the Kimberly through the Kimberley Schools Plan.
The Nationals WA will use the results from the Kimberley Schools Plan to inform future policy in this space.
Developing Regional Education
The Nationals WA are committing $100 million over five years to three key initiatives to help develop regional education.
- Wheatbelt Education Plan
Many families in the Wheatbelt are choosing residential hostels or private schools in Perth where there is more confidence in the educational opportunities provided. The Nationals WA believe this region requires a new plan, developed in consultation with the communities.
The plan will encompass strategically placed full service K-12 colleges such as the Merredin Community College, offering regionally based secondary alternatives with hostel accommodation to match.
- Secondary School Leadership Program
The Nationals want to provide pathways for senior regional teachers and principals to access high-level professional development through a Secondary School Leadership Program.
The program would include short courses and regular meetings with senior Members of Parliament, Ministers and bureaucrats and allow them to share their knowledge and experiences with other educators.
- Centre for Excellence in Aboriginal Education
Developing a "Centre of Excellence" in regional high schools with a substantial indigenous representation will allow teachers to ensure their pathway to higher education is clear and achievable. The plan will also include an Indigenous Cultural Language and Induction Program.
Information Communication Technology
The Nationals WA will commit to $50 million over 5 years to develop the Information Communication Technology (ICT) capacity of regional schools.
- ICT Infrastructure Fund
Regional schools, like regional businesses and residents, are disadvantaged by limited internet capacity and ICT infrastructure. The ICT Infrastructure Fund will get now-basic technologies like computer upgrades and Smartboards into schools and will allow inter-school collaboration through virtual education platforms.
- Professional ICT Support
ICT support program will enable regional teachers to fully understand and utilise the technology provided. It will also provide professional development for teachers, incentivising regional employment.
Parents and Citizens Association Fund
The Nationals commit $8.4 million over four years to support regional Parents and Citizens (P&C) organisations and the wonderful work they do for local schools.
The Parents and Citizens Association Fund will assist regional parents' associations to fundraise with a dollar-for-dollar assistance grant. If a parents' association can raise one dollar, Royalties for Regions will match that dollar to help enable positive changes in the school. The grant will be capped at $5000 per school per year.
Flexibility in BAHA and AIC eligibility
The State Government's Boarding Away from Home Allowance (BAHA) and the Federal Government's Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) allowance assists families which are geographically isolated from State schools to send their children to school. The Nationals WA commit to offering more flexible arrangements for accessing BAHA and AIC when it can be demonstrated that a local school cannot meet the education needs of a child.
For more detail on our commitments, read our full policy paper here.