Question: Labor's 2013 Literacy and Numeracy Plan


Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (14:33): My question is to the Minister for Education. What is the status of the government's 2013 literacy and numeracy plan, titled 'Great start, strong foundations, powerful learners: a literacy and numeracy strategy from birth to 18'? Does that document still represent the government's strategy, or is there a new strategy that has superseded this document?

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE (Port Adelaide—Minister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (14:33): To the best of my knowledge, that is the name of our current strategy. I don't hold the full titles in my head at all times, but we have had a literacy and numeracy strategy in place for some time. The question is not just to have documents about what we do and how we spend the money. The more money we have the better job we can do.

Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (14:33): Supplementary: without asking the minister to comment on the name of the document or the document itself, is she familiar with the strategy that is comprised in that document launched by the member for Wright in 2013?

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE (Port Adelaide—Minister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (14:34): Absolutely, I am familiar with it. I can confirm whether we have done any supplementary updates to it, but we have had a literacy and numeracy strategy in place for some time. Subsequent to the launch of that document we have had the results plus framework in the last couple of years and now we will be introducing this additional strategy.

It is as if the opposition thinks that you can say, 'It is terrible to talk about money, You don't need more money,' but also criticise our results. Schools cost money, and doing more work in schools costs more money. Of course, that's not the end of the story. Of course, it's about how we spend the money, hence the independent expert panel that we are putting together. Of course, it's about how you spend it, but there is no point in thinking about how to spend it if you are not going to stand up and get the money.

We have had to stand up against the federal government to claw back some of the money that they tried to rip out of the education system. We have done that alone, as a lone voice in this state within politics. Thank God we have had the community on our side.

Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (14:35): A supplementary question: why was the literacy and numeracy directorate within the Department for Education, which had been responsible for delivering on the government's literacy and numeracy strategy, abolished in 2015?

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE (Port Adelaide—Minister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (14:35): Structure, yes, I noticed that during estimates I was asked over 50 questions about structure. I was not asked one about NAPLAN—not one about NAPLAN, apart from by the member for Mount Gambier, and not one by the opposition spokesperson on literacy or numeracy, which suddenly has become of interest because there is a bit of a sniff of the media in the air. I have forgotten the question.

The Hon. S.C. Mullighan interjecting:

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Structure, of course. The structure of the Learning Improvement Division, as it is now called, was designed in order to work more closely with schools. For that reason, it was restructured in a way that plugged into primary schools and plugged into secondary schools, rather than being divided on subject matters. Of course, literacy and numeracy have remained fundamental to the work, particularly for the primary school area.

Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (14:36): A supplementary question: who then is in charge of the panel with regard to delivering this new $70 million of literacy programs that the minister described earlier?

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE (Port Adelaide—Minister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills) (14:36): We will be making detailed announcements about that panel in due course. We are not here at the bidding of the opposition to explain detail to them but, if I can correct the way in which that was articulated, the panel is not in charge of the strategy: the panel is separately responsible for guiding—

Mr Marshall: Hopeless!

The SPEAKER: The leader is warned for the second and last time.

The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I hope there are no schoolkids in the gallery today to see that kind of behaviour. The panel will be guiding all our efforts and interventions irrespective of whether it's paid for through this particular project, but we will be making announcements about the panel in due course and the member can wait for that.