DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT $2,778,732,000
ADMINISTERED ITEMS FOR THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION AND CHILD DEVELOPMENT, $252,286,000
Hon. S.E. Close, Minister for Education and Child Development, Minister for Higher Education and Skills.
Mr R. Persse, Chief Executive, Department for Education and Child Development.
Mr C. Bernardi, Chief Finance Officer, Department for Education and Child Development.
Ms J. Johnston, Deputy Chief Executive, Chief Education Officer, Department for Education and Child Development.
Ms J. Riedstra, Deputy Chief Executive, Corporate Services, Department for Education and Child Development.
Ms A. Hayes, Executive Director, Department for Education and Child Development.
Mr M. Petrovski, Adviser, Department for Education and Child Development.
The CHAIR: The estimates committees are a relatively informal procedure and as such there is no need to stand to ask or answer questions. I understand the minister and the lead speaker for the opposition have agreed to an approximate time for the consideration of proposed payments which will facilitate a change of departmental advisers. Could the minister and the lead in the opposition acknowledge that there is a confirmed schedule?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes.
Mr GARDNER: Yes.
The CHAIR: Changes to the committee membership will be notified as they occur. Members should ensure that the Chair is provided with a completed request to be discharged form. If a minister undertakes to supply information at a later date, it must be submitted to the committee secretary by no later than Friday 28 October 2016. This year, estimate committee responses will be published during the 15 November sitting week in corrected daily Hansard over a three-day period.
I propose to allow both the minister and the lead speaker for the opposition a 10-minute opportunity to make an opening statement should they wish. There will be a flexible approach to giving the call for asking questions based on about three questions per member, alternating on each side, depending on what questions we have to provide. Supplementary questions will be the exception rather than the rule.
A member who is not part of the committee may ask a question at the discretion of the Chair. Questions must be based on lines of expenditure in the budget papers, and we do ask for these to be clearly identified at the beginning of each question for the benefit of Hansard and the minister and advisers and ourselves at the table as we flick to the correct page.
Members unable to complete their questions during proceedings may submit them as questions on notice for inclusion on the Assembly Notice Paper. There is no formal facility for the tabling of documents before the committee; however, documents can be supplied to the Chair for distribution to the committee. The incorporation of material in Hansard is permitted on the same basis as applies in the house, that is, that it is purely statistical and limited to one page in length.
All questions are to be directed to the minister, not the minister's advisers. During the committee's examination television cameras will be permitted to film from the northern and southern galleries. I do ask those behind us in the northern galleries to keep the noise to a minimum if they can. Sometimes they get a bit excited up there.
I declare the proposed payments open for examination and refer members to the agency statements in Volume 2. I call on the minister to make a statement if she wishes and then to introduce her advisers.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Thank you, I would like to make a statement, and at the end I will introduce my advisers. The 2016-17 budget builds on our 14 years of investment in the education of young South Australians. I would like here to acknowledge my predecessors in this role since 2002, including the most recent previous minister who is in the chamber today.
This budget includes a record $3.528 billion in education and child development to support South Australian children and their families in 2016-17, which is an increase of $174.4 million on the previous budget. Our funding per public school student is $16,040 compared with $7,598 for each student when we came to government in the budget year 2001-02. The budget supports our work to ensure that children and young people are building skills for the future.
As our economy transitions from traditional manufacturing to more advanced technology, two factors will play important roles in our state's future and therefore in our children's future: our ability to both capitalise on our international ties and build a strong workforce, skilled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Our education system is active in both areas. STEM is an important part of our students' curriculum across the years.
This budget bolsters our promotion of STEM in schools with $250 million spent on the STEM Works program, delivering new and refurbished facilities in 139 primary, secondary and R-12 schools. We have included primary schools in this initiative because these are the years when an interest in STEM is ignited. Children of primary school age are often most excited about science, and this budget initiative aims to capture and grow that interest by providing those students with facilities, equipment and teaching materials. Leaving engagement in STEM to high school, or even to year 7, is simply too late.
This exciting infrastructure program is hitting the ground running with some projects commencing in 2016, and all projects expected to be completed by the end of 2018. STEM Works will have a significant impact also on the state economy, with an estimated 600 jobs to be created as a result of the construction of new and upgraded facilities. As the STEM Works schools are located in both metropolitan and regional areas, these jobs will be spread around the state, meaning that tradespeople and businesses throughout South Australia will also benefit from this program.
International ties are already a strong part of our kids' education, with second languages offered, many international students choosing to study here, and formal and informal links established with schools across the world. We are expanding our languages education with the launch of a new Chinese bilingual school at William Light R-12 School and our first French bilingual binational program to commence in a South Australian government school in 2017.
We are also providing more than $3 million in grants to schools that wish to strengthen an existing specialisation or investigate the introduction of a new specialist program. These grants will give students the opportunity to specialise in certain areas of study. In round 2 of the initiative, Elizabeth East Primary School won a grant to develop its Chinese language program and Mitcham Girls High School is using the grant to develop its GiFT Academic STEM-focused program. Cummins Area School will use its grant to employ resident experts in science or engineering to work with students and teachers on STEM, and Oodnadatta Aboriginal School will transform its library into a play-based learning hub.
Equity of opportunity is a strong feature of our public education system. We firmly believe that every child has a right to share in the benefits of education. To help level the playing field for kids who have barriers to their education, we are placing new child wellbeing practitioners in schools. The practitioners will help teachers identify and coordinate services for children in need, getting them early support so that problems do not escalate and they are better able to focus on their education. The rollout of these 60 positions, specialising in child protection and early intervention, is underway now, with managers and team leaders recruited.
The Gonski funding is one of the most important factors in helping children overcome the effect of disadvantage on their education. South Australian schools are reporting improvement in children's outcomes and wellbeing, thanks to interventions the funding has supported. Mark Oliphant College has used its Gonski funding to employ additional school support officers to provide one‑on‑one support for at-risk students, and counsellors to encourage their wellbeing and engagement in study. Last year, the school achieved a 100 per cent SACE completion rate.
Pimpala Primary School has used its Gonski funding to provide extra help for students struggling with literacy and numeracy, leading to impressive improvements in NAPLAN. The government remains committed to the full six years of the Gonski reforms.. We are also continuing to deliver our share of Gonski funding, with an additional $229.9 million across the full six years.
Ensuring we have a high quality education workforce, and highly skilled leaders, is a priority for this government. Teachers and leaders are the number one school factor in student outcomes, and we are committed to providing them with opportunities for professional development. The Graduate Diploma of Strategic Leadership has been developed by our South Australian Institute for Educational Leadership to support our policy that by 2020 all site leaders will hold an advanced qualification in leadership.
The inaugural cohort of 29 new leaders commenced the course in January 2015 and graduated in April 2016. New courses are currently underway, with 158 aspiring new and current site leaders studying towards the qualification. We are also supporting teachers to boost their skills and knowledge by offering masters' scholarships. Two scholarship rounds have been conducted to date, with more than 60 scholarships offered over 2014 to 2015. The third round of more than 60 scholarships closes on Monday, with successful applicants commencing at the beginning of 2017.
One of the areas I am particularly keen on developing is greater parent engagement in schools because we know that students have better outcomes when parents are involved in their education. The inaugural Parents in Education Week held last year acknowledged the great work of volunteers in our schools and promoted greater parent engagement in learning and decision-making. Parents involved in governance and decision-making at schools now have a new source of information to support them, a new dedicated web portal on the DECD website. The 2016-17 budget continues our work in a building a high-quality, equitable, forward and outward-looking education system that will give our kids greater preparation for the future.
I would like to introduce the advisers I have with me at this table. On my right is Rick Persse, who is the Chief Executive of the Department for Education and Child Development. On my left is Julieann Riedstra and Jayne Johnston. Julieann is responsible for the corporate area in the department and Jayne Johnston runs the education in schools part.
Mr GARDNER: I will go straight to questions. I refer to Budget Paper 4, Volume 2, page 12. The first statement goes to the departmental structure and identifies that on 21 June the government announced there will be a separate department for functions related to care and protection of children in response to Margaret Nyland's early findings. It states:
Due to the timing of this announcement, this agency statement is not reflective of the new structure.
These budget papers reflect the old structure and not necessarily what is going to happen over the coming 12 months, but there is this budget line here, so I want to ask a couple of questions about it. Are any aspects of the department, apart from program 3 (care and protection), being removed from that department, and are all aspects of program 3 being removed?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Unfortunately, it is not quite as neat as being able to pull out program 3—for a couple of reasons. There might be some elements of functional activity that will be maintained in DECD, and also there is corporate expenditure that is spread across the three. We are actively involved at present in determining how to create the new department and, of course, to employ the new executive, but it is not as simple as being able to isolate one program.
Mr GARDNER: When is this going to happen?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We would expect it to be finalised by the end of the year. That is in part in order to allow the chief executive to be appointed and to arrive and also to make these judgements about which site some activity will sit.
Mr GARDNER: Are you aware what physical assets will be definitely retained by education, obviously apart from schools, which you would expect to maintain, and what will be transferred to the new department?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I am prepared to stand to be corrected in the future, but my expectation at present is that the physical assets are reasonably straightforward to divide. The premises occupied by Families SA staff would go to the new department, including the residential care facilities and their offices. I am unaware of any other physical assets that might be ambiguous.
Mr GARDNER: And the education department will remain in Flinders Street?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That is the expectation. We always serve at the pleasure of the people who organise accommodation for government, but there is no expectation of making dramatic changes to Flinders Street.
Mr GARDNER: Given this budget was delayed, why was this budget not updated to reflect whatever elements of the new arrangements are expected over the next 12 months?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: For a variety of reasons, including of course that Justice Nyland's report does not come out until next week. Although she has given us an interim report and recommended the separation of the department, it may well be that there are other recommendations that will have an impact on how we divide up exactly what occurs in each department.
Mr GARDNER: Are there any structural or policy changes that have taken place within the department since the appointment of the new CEO?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That is a very broad and open question.
Mr GARDNER: He is here, so I imagine he has a good idea of what he has done.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, I will consult with him about whether there is anything he wishes to claim this early. Essentially not. There is some discussion about where our legal services fit, but that has not yet occurred either. It is still in train.
Mr GARDNER: Aside from disentangling Families SA from the education department and doing some no doubt exciting revolutionary moves with the legal services, are there any plans to further restructure or review the management of the education department?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I am not going to answer that now because that would constrain the chief executive's right to run the department as he wishes.
Mr GARDNER: So, there is absolutely nothing on the agenda at the moment, or are you expecting that there might be at some stage in the future?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: A new chief executive comes in and has the right to determine the best structure of the department. In saying that, I am absolutely not signalling a big change. I am just not going to constrain his right to form a view over the period of time. I do not run the department: the chief executive does. I am not trying to hide anything. I am not aware of any great plans for restructuring, but I am absolutely not going to rule out that he may form a view that some restructuring is warranted. It is not my job to constrain him in that.
Mr GARDNER: Is the department going to continue bringing principals down to Hindmarsh to perform in front of all their colleagues in their performance reviews, as they have been for the last 12 months?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I think you are referring to the partnership reviews. The structure of partnerships, in my judgement, is going extremely well. Largely, when I go and visit schools I get good feedback. I think there is a view that the partnerships ought to be brought together to discuss performance because, as you would be well aware, the performance of a student by the time they reach high school has been largely shaped by their experience in their early years and in their primary school years. There is a great deal of power in having the community of education around a student collaborating, working together and determining where intervention points belong. Part of that is to assess how performance is going.
Mr GARDNER: I understand that there have been some structural changes to the building down at Hindmarsh to accommodate some sort of theatre where principals and their partnerships can be brought in, people can view and watch and data can be displayed on screens. What was the cost of that structural adjustment to the building?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, I am informed that you are correct, that there has been some minor work undertaken, but we do not have the completion of the cost to be able to report that now.
Mr GARDNER: Will you be able to bring that back?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes.
Mr GARDNER: Thank you. I will go to page 20, which is the program summary, although it flows on from those questions. This is the budget line that broadly covers most of schools so, if anyone is wondering at some stage what we are talking about, chances are it is this one. Last year, on 28 August, The Advertiser reported:
Education and Child Development Department chief executive Tony Harrison has revealed plans to cull the bureaucracy and return staff to schools. Education and Child Development Minister Susan Close said this would result in up to 300 staff returning to 'frontline' work.
This is more than a quarter of the workers at the department's Flinders St head office.
Parents have been told to expect a visible increase in school staff and higher teaching standards.
I realise the only word they have quoted you saying in all of that is the word 'frontline'. We have previously discussed some of what that might mean. Can you perhaps clarify, one year on, how many of those 300 staff have been returned to schools or to work with schools?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It may take a little bit of time to explain this. I am certainly not trying to avoid it. It is just that this has been one of those issues where the reporting has not been quite in line with what we intended to be communicated. There is an area within the department that is focused on improving the quality of teaching and learning. It previously had an enormous amount to do with the development of the curriculum and the translation of the curriculum as it was managed across the country, and increasingly involved in the terminology is the pedagogy, the methods of teaching, and the strengthening of the performance of teachers and therefore the better outcomes for students.
So, that is one of the advantages of having a system where, rather than having individual schools managing themselves, we are able to group up people who are experts in their field to work centrally across the school system to increase the quality of teaching and learning. Our ambition is twofold in that field. On one hand, it is about having a relocation of those staff so that their interaction with staff in schools is not through Flinders Street, and we are yet to achieve that relocation but it is still my ambition to do that.
Mr GARDNER: Are they all still in Flinders Street?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: For the teaching and learning unit, they are established at Flinders Street, and my ambition is for them not to be. That is because there are some inhibitors about having to come into the city in terms of parking constraints and space that we have within Flinders Street to do workshops and seminars. It is also because there is a perception around—
Mr GARDNER: Those are the inhibitors? You said those are the inhibitors of people coming—
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: For people to come into—
Mr GARDNER: So, would that not make it easier to get them out?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Sorry, for additional people who are teaching currently to come in and interact with these staff centrally, it is not easy.
Mr GARDNER: I cannot imagine why the reporters found it confusing, as you identify.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I believe that is sarcasm. The other reason is that there has been a perception around Flinders Street that it is the head office and it is impenetrable, and I want to break that down, so I want to have the teaching and learning staff appear to be, as well as actually be, more accessible. As I said, the ambition is twofold. One is to move them out. The other element, which we have progressed significantly with, is the way in which those staff interact with the schools. Rather than producing materials that are then just pushed out to staff in schools, to teachers and principals, the idea is to be far more responsive to the needs identified in schools and to physically go to schools and be working with teachers and principals on their pedagogy—
Mr GARDNER: Rather than make making teachers and principals go to Flinders Street.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Ideally the two-way will be what we can achieve with staff from schools who are able to come in and interact, and the staff who are part of the teaching and learning area are spending more time out. We are very engaged in making that area more responsive already from within Flinders Street. Flinders Street may not be perfect, in my mind, but it is not impossible. I still have the ambition of physically moving them out. Now, that is about that area that was intended to be what we were discussing with the media.
Another element I think may have assisted in causing the confusion is that the head office has been going through an exercise of slimming itself. There is a view that we could do things more efficiently and we would be able to reduce staff, some of whom would return because they have positions in schools, some of whom are contract staff and some of whom are retiring or moving on to other employment. That has been occurring in order to meet our budget commitments and in order to be the most efficient head office possible.
What we have not done is remove staff from schools. We have retained our commitment to the expenditure of schools. The frontline experience in classes is dictated by our industrial agreements on student to staff ratios, so we have left all of that alone. It is about trying to run a more efficient corporate office.
Mr GARDNER: So, there was this pre-existing unit with teaching and learning, and my understanding from your answer is that it is not that 300 staff were being added to that, that was a group of 300 people who were in Flinders Street, were not going to be in Flinders Street, and were going to work more actively with staff at schools rather than making staff at schools come to head office, and that was the basis of the front page article in The Advertiser in August last year and subsequent questioning. All of that is still your ambition, it just hasn't happened yet.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The physical moving out of teaching and learning, and in fact it is not just teaching and learning, that is the heart of it. There are other staff associated in offering support to schools who are technically based in head office but already spent a significant time, if not all of their time, out in schools but they are allocated to head office—people who assist with learning disabilities and behavioural difficulties and so on. The ambition to physically move the teaching and learning plus out is yet to be achieved. Part of what was being announced—because we were talking about the restructuring of head office, and that was where the story came from—which is about downsizing head office, has been occurring.
Mr GARDNER: How many staff were based in Flinders Street in June 2015 and how many were based in Flinders Street in June 2016? Let's say 30 June if that gives you something to grasp onto.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I am assuming that your question is not relating to Families SA staff, that you are interested in the education staff.
Mr GARDNER: Yes.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We do not have that number with us and we will supply it to you.
Mr GARDNER: For that matter, what is the total head count and how many FTE staff are based at Flinders Street head office today?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will take that on notice as well.
Mr GARDNER: In regard to this teaching and learning unit, you said in your answer earlier that there was a focus on strengthening the quality of teaching and learning in addition to appearing to be more accessible. As to strengthening the quality of teaching and learning—what work is this unit doing in relation to dyslexia and, in particular, the more widespread understanding of teaching of phonics in primary schools?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I am sure my advisers are going to give me some detail, but this is an area I am extremely interested in improving.
Mr GARDNER: Perhaps you could answer also in relation to what expertise exists within that unit in the teaching of phonics or the instruction of teaching of phonics.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I may need some assistance on that. Not only do we need to respond to children who are known to have dyslexia but we need to respond to all children, whether they have dyslexia and it is unknown, or whether it is simply that they are, along with all other kids, learning how to read and write. Happily, much of what one does to assist dyslexia is good for all kids. So, as you have rightly identified, in relation to the teaching of phonics, while I do not not value the idea of whole language as well, I think both are important. It is important that children have a phonemic awareness that enables them to be able to decode words to read them and also assist them in understanding how to spell.
The people who are particularly active in talking about dyslexia and the people inside the department who are concerned about specific learning difficulties, including dyslexia, have been working together in a working party to determine the best approach to providing advice to schools to lift the standards on both fronts for all students having good phonemic awareness and also specifically for children who are identified as having dyslexia. They are working on a series of resource papers, that I believe are currently in existence but being updated, that are for teachers and that are about those components of competence required to be a fluent reader. I can list them here. There is phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension and oral language.
There is also a series of best advice papers going to site leaders that are currently in development, and one of those is particularly focused on how one brings on the education of the teaching of reading. While I remain interested in whether we are doing enough for children with dyslexia and enough for children with undiagnosed learning issues for reading and writing, the department has not only been working internally on how to do that but has also been working with stakeholders in order to ensure that there is a common understanding of how to approach dyslexia. The question that you have about expertise I will have to pass to Jayne Johnston because I do not have that in my head.
Ms JOHNSTON : One of the restructuring elements of the Learning Improvement Division, as we now call learning and teaching, was to organise it around the phases of schooling, so we have a unit or a division that is early years, primary years and secondary years as well as two other units that do the strategic planning and really strengthen the professional learning and the way in which we work with our leaders and our teachers.
Particularly in our early years unit and the primary unit, we have people with very strong literacy and numeracy backgrounds drawn from schools with very immediate experience. They are working with our experts: our psychologists and student support team out of our other division, which is student services and child development. There are two issues; one is identification of students with learning needs. Our aspiration, of course, always is to identify those needs as early as possible, but not to label kids to really make sure then we are getting the targeted input either for teachers, so that they understand better how to work with the students, or sometimes for the whole school. We have expertise also around the identification.
We are currently commissioning some work from Professor Sally Brinkman from our Fraser Mustard Centre to look at the ways in which we can better address some early assessment around a range of things, but certainly language and reading development will be very much a part of that work.
Mr GARDNER: Minister, you and your officer have identified that in the unit there are literacy and numeracy experts and I would have thought all teachers would make that claim: that they work with psychologists and that they identify students who have learning needs. You particularly identified that we have commissioned Professor Sally Brinkman to do some work, but my question was: is there anyone with expertise in the teaching of phonics and the instruction of how teachers who have not been taught how to teach phonics can learn that?
Ms JOHNSTON: The teaching of phonics and phonological awareness has been part of our literacy and numeracy—particularly our literacy part of our numeracy—strategy for some time in South Australia, so it has been an area where we have been explicitly developing those teachers who may not have had that as part of their initial teacher training. Of course, now it is much more explicitly part of initial teacher training and so we are more confident of our early career teachers coming through, although they need to learn: what does it look and feel like in a classroom and working with others? But, yes, we do have that expertise and it has been an explicit part of our learning I think now for three or four years.
Mr GARDNER: How many staff are on secondment, loan or any other form of temporary arrangement from schools to Flinders Street today, 30 June this year and 30 June last year? Those are the three dates that I have asked for numbers elsewhere before.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Unsurprisingly, we will take that on notice; I am happy to provide it.
Mr GARDNER: Can we go to page 23, the targets. One of the targets is to increase the attendance rate at schools. The minister recently identified on the radio that the department would be pursuing legal action against two parents of chronic truant students. Is that legal action still underway and when is your advice that it is expected to be resolved?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, it is still underway and I am not able to give any advice—I have none—about how quickly that will be resolved.
Mr GARDNER: Both sets?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Both sets and, in fact, we are looking at a third at present; I am not sure whether we will advance that one.
Mr GARDNER: That saves me a question. Is the minister still planning on undertaking legislative reform in this area?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes. Because I am planning on a tidy-up of the act in general, I remain open to making any changes to the legislation when I am doing that that might make it easier to achieve prosecution in those rare cases where prosecution is the right approach. By no means do I wish to signal that I want to have a large-scale prosecution of parents, but it is important to me that we have the capacity to prosecute successfully. It will be in part a test of how successful these prosecutions are the degree to which we need to make legislation, but I am absolutely still open to doing that and I have an expectation of bringing a bill in at some stage in the not too distant future.
I would like to say on attendance, of course, that prosecution is not the only instrument that we have and we have seen a very slight improvement in our attendance rates. I think that is down to a number of factors, one of which is explicitly to have people who are dedicated to working with families on the attendance of the children. I believe that the wellbeing practitioners that I mentioned in my opening statement will also contribute to that.
Nonattendance comes from a variety of sources. There is unexplained nonattendance that turns into something that was explicable and reasonable, but when it becomes chronic, it is often an indicator of a family that is not going well and one in which the children are not being supported sufficiently well. I think support through not only the attendance workers but also the wellbeing practitioners will make a positive difference.
I also think that there are other factors in the improvement in attendance, which is around the kind of approach to teaching that is happening in our schools that increasingly, with the use of the teaching for effective learning (TfEL) approach, the engagement of students in the construction of what they are learning, that is seeing an increase in students' interest and enjoyment. That inevitably will see more children wanting to attend school. Ideally, prosecution would be unnecessary. I believe that it is unfortunately still necessary, but making school attractive is a strategy that we have been pursuing and is well worth doing. What you want is students not to merely turn up, but to get something out of the day that they are experiencing.
Mr GARDNER: When you say that making school attractive is a strategy you are pursuing in identifying how to get chronically truant students to school, what does that mean?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I mean that in the more general sense of improving our attendance. Chronic nonattendance, as I said, is often a marker of concerns with the family and requires further intervention through the attendance officers and, in time, through the work that will be done by the wellbeing practitioners. Every day a child is at school is a good thing, and a day missed is not a good thing. Even setting aside the chronic non-attenders, improving students' engagement and turning up to school every day is important. Part of that is about their engagement with their learning.
Mr GARDNER: Let us go back to the legislative reform that you are looking at. One of your predecessors, Hon. Dr Jane Lomax-Smith, announced in 2009 that the government was going to be getting rid of the exemption clause in the act, which talks about if parents are making reasonable efforts then that is a defence against the offence of truancy. Is that on your agenda, or is that something that you think is necessary to keep in the act?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will let the lawyers advise me on what they are seeing as the barriers, but that is one that I have looked at and am going to seek advice as we move into the phase of drafting.
Mr GARDNER: What about expiation notices? Are expiation notices still part of your proposal?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Equally, that has been raised as a proposition, and I am actively exploring that also.
Mr GARDNER: I think, in the public sphere, raised by you, minister.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: In the public sphere, raised by me, but in my world, raised by others with me and I thought it was a reasonable proposition to explore further.
Mr GARDNER: Okay, so you are exploring it further but that is not your position at the moment?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: What I want is advice on what works best.
Mr GARDNER: In March, when you were talking about these issues, you identified that the department would be identifying all schools where attendance rates are dropping or where attendance rates for Indigenous students is below 80 per cent. Has the department done that, and if so, what are those skills?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will ask Jayne to answer that.
Ms JOHNSTON : Through our work with schools, through our performance reviews, we are identifying that data. We would have to take on notice that particular list of schools, but the work we are doing is at both individual school level and at partnership level, helping schools to identify and share practices that are working across similar sites. I think we have some very good examples where engagement with the community and with parents and students about understanding the value of the participation, and really connecting that to students' learning outcomes, is where I think we are starting to see, I guess, the habits that young people and sometimes their families have fallen into. They are starting to see that it is possible to have their child at school every day, barring illness and so on, and that is just one of the factors that in itself leads to improvement.
Mr GARDNER: Nobody is talking about getting stressed about those issues where children are ill. We understand that when we are talking about truancy that that is not included. In the context of truancy, the minister said that the department would be identifying all these schools and particularly those in Indigenous communities. Has an audit been done or are we just waiting for the partnership reviews to come around, as they do on a cyclical basis?
Ms JOHNSTON : No, in a whole range of ways our education directors work directly with our schools on a day-to-day basis. We are working in partnership with the commonwealth, with our remote schools in particular where we do absolutely have many schools but not all with their attendance less than 80 per cent. Some very explicit strategies are being put in place there, and I get reports monthly and, in some cases weekly, on those schools.
Mr GARDNER: We have covered all of the schools, and I appreciate the officer identified we can take on notice which ones we are talking about, but can you also, whether on notice or now, advise how many schools we are talking about that are in these two categories: attendance rates dropping or Indigenous students below 80 per cent?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will take that one on notice as well.
Mr GARDNER: You talked about attendance officers before. How many do we currently have working for the department?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: There are 22.
Mr GARDNER: There are 22 attendance officers. Going to the child wellbeing officers, which is listed as a highlight and a target, and I think we had some insight into that in your earlier answer, employment of 60 child wellbeing practitioners is listed as a highlight, but we have not reached 60 yet, have we?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: No, we have not. We have only employed the management level.
Mr GARDNER: You said before that the managers and team leaders have been recruited; how many is that?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I would like to correct myself slightly. It is not just the management level we have appointed—I was remembering a slightly older brief. We have employed 25.
Mr GARDNER: So you have employed 25 of the 60?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes.
Mr GARDNER: How many of those are managers and team leaders and how many of them are, I assume, the people who are actually going to be doing the work on the ground?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: One manager and four team leaders.
Mr GARDNER: One manager, four team leaders and 20 others.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Plus 25, so it is 29 altogether. I am really enjoying updating my answers as we go. I apologise.
Mr GARDNER: Can we be clear because I have one plus four plus 25 equals 29 and that does not sound right either.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It is 25 plus five. You are absolutely correct, sir.
Mr GARDNER: Excellent. So we have employed 30 out of 60 although the highlight is listed that 60 have been employed, but we will skip over that. What are the qualifications of these people? I assume the manager has whatever necessary role that is, and the team leaders presumably have some role, but the 25 who are going to be on the ground, what are their qualifications? Is there an expected university degree in social work or are there exceptions to that?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: They are allied health professionals, and in this case they are either social workers or psychologists.
Mr GARDNER: Page 20 in the financial commentary identifies that there is higher expenditure of $6 million related to the employment of child wellbeing officers to work in schools. That is the difference between the 2015-16 estimated result and the budget for the year to come. If you have only so far employed 30 of the 60, how long is it going to take you to employ the others? Surely, it is not going to cost that full $6 million, seeing as we seem to be running a bit behind. That $6 million sounds to me very much like an estimated $100,000 cost times by 60 staff.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We are currently recruiting the remaining 30.
Mr GARDNER: When will we have that complete? Do we have hundreds of applicants for each position, or are we struggling?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I cannot confirm when we will complete it. Obviously, we are going as quickly as we can.
Mr GARDNER: Where are these officers based? Are they in Flinders Street, or are they—the term you used before—working closely with schools?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: They are not in Flinders Street. They are allocated to schools and are frequently physically in the schools. There are regional education offices as well that they can use and, of course, they have cars and phones in order to be able to move around between schools and remain productive.
Mr GARDNER: They have been allocated, presumably, to the schools where the need is highest?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes.
Mr GARDNER: The team leaders and the manager could be allocated wherever. In those schools they find some space, but they are not on the staff list for those schools so that gives them the flexibility?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That is right.
Mr GARDNER: What other specialist staff are employed to focus on truancy and behaviour management?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Behaviour coaches.
Mr GARDNER: You have got the 22 attendance officers?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes.
Mr GARDNER: How many behaviour coaches do you have?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We have 30 behaviour coaches who are, technically, attributed to head office but spend their time out in schools working with teachers and leaders.
Mr GARDNER: What are the qualifications?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: They are teachers.
Mr GARDNER: There are some sites that have a focus on students with some of these issues. How many sites are there, what sites are there, what is their capacity, and how many staff do they have?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: So, you are wanting to know about where the wellbeing practitioners are directed, or all of them?
Mr GARDNER: No, you have a number of schools that have a particular focus: better behaviour centres—
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I see what you mean.
Mr GARDNER: —or a particular focus on students who have not flourished in the mainstream setting.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will answer to the best of my knowledge. I am working off my own notes, and so we will correct it if I am inaccurate. We are clear that there are six centres. My understanding is that there are 97 students in those behaviour centres and 22 staff.
Mr GARDNER: What is the capacity? How much flexibility is there?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will have to get back to you for that one.
Mr GARDNER: I refer to page 14: investing expenditure. The budget identifies, and you have identified, 250 million for STEM facilities in schools. What process was used to choose the successful schools?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will ask Juliann to answer that shortly as the person who runs corporate, and the advice was produced by the department. The criteria were about the amount of expenditure in infrastructure, or the need for more expenditure, so schools that have not had much expenditure and were in need and also the size of the schools. We have covered 139, which is just under 25 per cent of our schools, and we are reaching 45 per cent of the students—and that was an important factor. There is, in fact, publicly available detail on our website that explains that in some detail.
Mr GARDNER: Which is fine, but how did that process come about? Who organised that proposition?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The proposition that we do it was clearly a cabinet decision. The proposition of which schools would be chosen was done by the department.
Mr GARDNER: Is the minister aware that a higher proportion of South Australia's least disadvantaged schools in categories 6 and 7 are receiving these funds than the categories 1 and 2 schools, the most disadvantaged? We have 24.5 per cent of schools in categories 1 and 2 and 25.5 per cent in categories 6 and 7 getting these supports. When you say this is about equity of opportunity, it just does not ring true.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We did not use educational disadvantage in this case. We used the maintenance liability. What that probably reflects is money that this government has spent year after year on schools of greater disadvantage.
Mr GARDNER: Does that mean that you are saying that the main proposition in identifying these schools was those that have not received funding recently? There are schools on this list that have received funding recently and there are schools that missed out that have not.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We will have to look at the list in detail, with that assertion, because that was clearly one of the criteria alongside the size of the schools, so there would have been a balance undertaken. What I will do is take that on notice and invite the department to explain in more detail its processing. As I said, I did not engage in that.
Mr GARDNER: Did anyone from your office engage in the process?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: No, the list was generated entirely by the department.
Mr GARDNER: Entirely by the department, produced to you to take to cabinet, and was unaltered from that point?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That is right.
Mr GARDNER: Inside that departmental process, what levels of officers were engaged? Was there any interplay between those officers and your office in the production of that list?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: There was discussion, inevitably, about what the criteria were in the agreed criteria of the need to invest in schools that had not had any investment and the size of the schools in order to reach the most students possible, but there was not any interplay in how those criteria were then applied.
Mr GARDNER: Is the minister aware that more than 38 per cent of schools in government electorates received the funding while only 18 per cent of schools in opposition electorates received the funding? How is that possible?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: No, I was not aware of that because that again was not a criterion.
Mr GARDNER: Is the minister aware that 45 per cent of schools in the government's 10 most marginal seats received the funding?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I appreciate why you are asking this, because you are trying to turn this into a political exercise. It simply was not—
Mr GARDNER: I am asking the question in a very straightforward manner, minister.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Was I aware? No, because that was not something that I asked.
Mr GARDNER: Minister, why did you not just announce that the funding was to take place and allow a transparent process so that schools that needed the support in these areas could apply for it or schools could be identified in a clear and transparent way so that people could have confidence in this process?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The transparency is that the entire process is available on our website for people to examine.
Mr GARDNER: The entire process is available in terms of how this was selected? You have just identified that your office did have a part to play in the choosing of those criteria.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Simply, it is a policy decision that we choose to spend money on STEM and that we agree that we need to reach the most students possible and that we agree that schools that have an outstanding need for investment that have not had the go that other schools have had deserve to be considered. How that interplay then was managed was done entirely by the department, and I have not had anything to do with questioning where they are or anything beyond that.
Mr GARDNER: Is this an education package or a stimulus package?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It is both.
Mr GARDNER: Is its primary focus one or the other?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I am not sure why you would have to choose. It is one of those rare and beautiful things in government where you do something that is good in its own right and also has very positive immediate effect. It is a bit like, I am sure minister Mullighan would claim rightly, the transport reforms in that it is more efficient for the economy to be able to move goods quickly. Also, while you are building those roads you get to employ people. It is a good combination, and that is the same here.
Mr GARDNER: We are talking about a figure that has been chosen arbitrarily and a process that has favoured one group of schools more than another, that 55 per cent of students and 75 per cent of schools will not benefit from. So, I think the comparisons are naturally drawn with a program that favoured more broadly schools, the BER program, where it was considered stimulus first. People have concerns. Is this money going to be used in the way that schools on the ground need most? The schools, as I understand it, were not contacted prior to the announcement of the funding; is that correct?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It is very common when we are undertaking budget announcements not to reveal those beforehand. The schools that I have spoken to are extremely pleased to be able to offer this. If you look across the partnerships, there is a good spread of new facilities across partnerships, and increasingly as you see schools cooperating with each other there is a capacity to share facilities. If I were given more money, I would spend more money, but we have done the best we can with what is an extraordinarily large amount of money and invested it, yes, for jobs now, with the work that is done in undertaking the facility upgrades, but also for jobs for the future, where we are encouraging our students to study STEM subjects and to become enthusiastic about them.
Mr GARDNER: The question certainly did not suggest that schools would not be able to use the money, that schools would not enjoy receiving facilities, and students and teachers and families as well. Of course, we would like to roll out to all schools if we could. The point I want to make, though, is that there have been clear examples in the past where stimulus programs have been put onto schools and not used in areas of highest priority because the schools themselves were not consulted on how that was rolled out.
You are not talking about giving money to the schools: you are talking about giving them a facility. What I am asking is: what engagement are the schools going to have in choosing what that facility is and directing how that money is best spent? I know that a number of these schools that are receiving the STEM funding have also been applying for other maintenance or refurbishment projects already that they are not getting and that they have had on their books for a while. How much engagement is there going to be with the schools in how their money is spent?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: You have identified that one of the challenges, but also great things, about projects with schools is that you are not simply imposing the answer centrally on what it is going to look like in the schools. You do have to work with the school communities, and we have already started that. We have had meetings with principals. While we are saying that the money must be spent on STEM areas and not on admin areas, we will work with the schools to make sure that their needs as best as possible are being met.
Mr GARDNER: I note that the government has put out to tender for builders to be involved in this program and identified that lead professional contractors, architects, engineers have already been asked by DPTI to engage in a planning study to further identify the scope of the projects. Who is going to be running this—DPTI or education or the local schools?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It is a joint partnership.
Mr GARDNER: I will let the member for Davenport ask a couple of questions.
The CHAIR: Shall I recognise the member for Davenport then?
Mr DULUK: Thank you, Chair. Keeping with the same theme as the member for Morialta in terms of how you have been working with schools, in terms of Blackwood High School receiving $2.5 million, how will this funding be allocated for that school and do you have a time line of when it will actually be completed?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: You are talking about my alma mater, of course.
Mr DULUK: Your alma mater, yes, indeed.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I did school at Blackwood High. I do not think we are in a position to be able to give detail for each individual school. Part of the process that we are working through at the moment is which schools are in the first tranche and, of course, also working with them about how they best spend that money.
Mr DULUK: And how did you determine which schools would be in the first tranche?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It will be based on readiness. We are working with all of them and we will work out a logical sequence.
Mr DULUK: So, the school has to be ready to take it on board.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The earlier we can get started on a school, the better. If a school is completely ready, we go. If it is not quite ready, we wait. We have until 2018, but we want to get as many done as we can as quickly as we can. Bear in mind the comments of the member for Morialta, in concert with the schools, it is one of the complexities of capital expenditure through the school system that we need to engage the schools, we need to make sure we are meeting their needs.
Mr DULUK: Does the government expect the number of STEM classes to increase across the 139 schools that have been allocated funding for facilities?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: For the majority of school experience you do not get to choose your subjects, and it increases obviously in upper years. The Australian Curriculum remains the Australian Curriculum, it is more about the way in which that will be taught and the way that we are able to integrate problem-solving across disciplines. I would expect and hope, through a variety of strategies, not simply this one, that we will continue to see an increase in higher year students in high school and secondary school choosing STEM subjects, in which case it would mean more.
Mr DULUK: Is there a target? How many would you expect? Has there been any modelling done to see if we put in the $250 million—
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: No.
Mr DULUK: So, there has been no targeting?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We have not articulated that as a target, no. Now that you have suggested it, we might have a look at it. It is not as functional as that, as being able to say, we will build this and then we will get this many students. The choices that students make in courses are far more complex than that.
Mr DULUK: But surely that is the process of why the government is making this investment? Ultimately, you want more students studying STEM subjects; that is why we are doing this.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: But more students who are already studying STEM are studying it better and enjoying it more and getting more out of it, so both of those are valuable; one is harder to measure than the other.
Mr DULUK: Is there any funding to be provided for new or extra programs or training for teachers who will be using these facilities, obviously to get the best benefit out of the program?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: So, $250 million is only the capital expenditure. We are simultaneously, through the area that we were discussing at length earlier, working on improving the kind of teaching that occurs, particularly integrated problem-solving based teaching and the quality of STEM teaching. We are in the process of developing a STEM strategy within the department that is aimed at exactly that. There have been changes in the training of teachers in universities which will increasingly see those people undertaking majors in particular subjects, including for primary school teacher training. We are very focused on post-service development of those skills.
Mr DULUK: To that end, as we are developing the program, do you envisage that there will be additional STEM teachers within the education system?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: For secondary, if we see more students, we will see more teachers for the different subjects. Suddenly, if there were a whole lot of people studying French, for example, we would probably see some more French teachers, and we very much hope to see more students studying more STEM and, therefore, to see more teachers. We are also working within the national STEM strategy that identifies the need to have more specialisations into primary school.
Mr DULUK: What analysis has been done about how many more STEM teachers will be needed down the track to meet the increased demand that hopefully you are getting out of this project? Surely some has been done, hasn't it?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The STEM strategy encompasses that kind of analysis and, when we are ready to release it, I will make sure you get a copy.
Mr DULUK: The government has made this announcement that we are going to increase funding at a capital level, which is fantastic, but we have made this decision by itself and we have not allocated any funding to additional teachers or program outlay?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We spent—
Mr DULUK: At this stage.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Additional teachers, it is a zero sum gain.
Mr DULUK: Sorry, additional STEM teachers.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, but students study a certain number of subjects and we have the teachers to meet that. Within the department, we spend resources on improving the quality of teaching and learning and we are shifting those resources towards STEM education as well as to some other important areas.
Mr DULUK: In terms of shifting—
The CHAIR: Member for Davenport, we do like to let the answer happen before the next question.
Mr DULUK: Sorry, I learnt from yesterday. It was different.
The CHAIR: We are doing really well, though, today.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Were you in yesterday's?
Mr DULUK: Yes.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I understand.
The CHAIR: Has the minister finished her answer?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I have, thank you.
Mr DULUK: What steps has the government taken to increase the number of STEM specialist teachers within the department at the moment?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I believe I have already answered that. We are undertaking a STEM strategy, and you will find a lot more answers once we are in a position to release that. I would like to reiterate the point that a lot of STEM teaching is already happening, and it is happening at a very high level, but the $250 million is about providing 45 per cent of our students at least with better facilities to do it, bearing in mind that this is not the only investment we have ever made and that there are schools that have had significant investment that already have these good facilities.
Mr GARDNER: Staying on page 14, investments, for all the new and existing projects on the page, I am wondering if the minister can provide the budgeted expenditures for each project for each year of the forward estimates?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We would be able to provide that on notice.
Mr GARDNER: Thank you very much. For all the annual programs on this page, can the minister provide the budgeted expenditures for each project for each year of the forward estimates, or do they just increase by CPI?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, we would expect it to increase like that, but we will take that on notice and give you the proper information.
Mr GARDNER: In relation to the annual programs budget lines, are there particular projects already identified for the listed $7.8 million of expenditure or is the money there to be allocated during the year as the needs arise? The $7.8 million is the bottom middle figure of the total expenditure for annual programs in 2016-17.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: If we could just divide it into two, the first three we respond to need, whereas we do have plans in terms of purchase of land and property and school bus replacement. It may be that we hold some contingency within those also, but the first three are about need that comes forward.
Mr GARDNER: Is the minister able to provide a list of the projects and the amount to be expended on each for those land and property and school bus projects that have been identified?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: For the previous year or for expectation for what we would spend?
Mr GARDNER: I think you just said in those categories they have been identified for the year ahead.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, we will take that on notice.
Mr GARDNER: In relation to the school bus replacement program, why is there a $6.7 million reduction this year?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Because we have had an active replacement program and we are nearly at the end of it.
Mr GARDNER: So, we have lots of Northern Territory buses all in place now. In relation to the voluntary merger policy, which may be here or we can go to Budget Paper 3, page 32, but it is pretty much all the same thing, how many schools are in discussions about their voluntary mergers so that they can get their infrastructure money from the land sale of the closed-down school?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: At present, we have 23 expressions of interest which involves 47 sites for participation.
Mr GARDNER: How many valuations has the department had done on land on those sites or indeed other sites?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We will have to return with that answer.
Mr GARDNER: I think we will go to page 32 of Budget Paper—
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: If I could just point out for your information, during the process, which has a number of stages, we have the capital value, which is known, and that stays until we are getting fairly certain that these schools are interested in doing it and then we go for a market valuation.
Mr GARDNER: But my understanding is that, even before the school fully engages in the process, they may seek a land valuation.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It is certainly not at the end of the process. It is just that it is not at the very beginning of the process.
Mr GARDNER: No, but a land valuation may often be part of that.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That is right.
Mr GARDNER: There is $53.1 million identified in the 2019-20 estimate for the capital investment, Education and Child Development. What is that to be spent on?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Sorry, can you give us the page again?
Mr GARDNER: Page 32 of Budget Paper 3, which is a new budget paper for those following at home. It is a list: General government capital investment by agency, and the line for Education and Child Development we see $64 million for last year, $121 million, $171 million and $149 million, which includes the STEM funding. Then in 2019-20, a year for which there are no projects identified in Budget Paper 4, there is $53,118,000. I am wondering whether there are any projects that have been identified for that or if that is just the amount that we are expecting might be needed?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The latter. That is our unallocated capital. I am absolutely certain we will be identifying programs ready to spend that.
Mr GARDNER: When will those programs be identified?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Not for some time. Our focus is going to be on getting these STEM works out.
Mr GARDNER: When you make budget announcements, such as the STEM works project this year, and it happens from time to time, those are usually on top of that money, aren't they, as it is in the next three years?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It depends on the budget decision each year. That is an allowance that is just put in there as an expectation of what might be spent.
Mr GARDNER: Are there any projects to be funded from the funds identified in this budget line in any of the four years that are not included in the summary in Budget Paper 4, volume 2? If so, what are they? Page 14.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Page 14 has the full list of projects including, as you see, a provision for small projects.
Mr GARDNER: That has the full list of projects?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes.
Mr GARDNER: Except, obviously, for the 2019-20 year. Maybe if I can ask it more clearly: is there any gap between the cost of all the projects announced and the expenditure in this document on page 3?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: No, there is not; I am advised that there is not.
Mr GARDNER: Except for that 2019-20 year.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That is not a gap; that is unallocated. We think of it differently.
Mr GARDNER: Is there any unallocated money in the other three years: 2016-17, 2017-18 or 2018-19?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I would have to look in detail. It is quite possible that there is.
Mr GARDNER: The amount of that unallocated funding is what I would particularly appreciate. Can we go back to page 14 of Budget Paper 4, volume 2. I have a couple of questions about specific projects. In relation to the Yalata Anangu School, it is listed for an estimated completion date of July 2017 and $821,000 of the $2 million budget is to be spent this financial year. Only $100,000 of the $921,000 allocation budgeted for the 2015-16 year was spent. Last year's budget papers identified a completion date of June 2016, which has now been moved to June 2017. Why is there a one-year delay in completing this project and will this project be completed within its $2 million overall budget?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We are not expecting it to go over the budgeted amount. What I can say is that we have completed the admin building and upgrade to the existing general learning space. What we are still to complete is the child-parent centre. We do not have the reasons with us on why there has been that delay; it could be a number of reasons and so we are happy to provide that in due course.
Mr GARDNER: In relation to Seaview High School, it is listed for an estimated completion date of March 2017. Last year's budget papers identified a completion date of June 2016. This year's budget papers identify $2 million of a $2.6 million total budget to be spent this financial year. Last year's budget papers identified a total cost of $2.3 million. Why has there been a nine-month delay and a $300,000 cost increase in this project?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: What I have here is that the pre-tender estimate received from Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure indicated that additional funds for site infrastructure and noncompliance issues were required, and so we made that available, which is some $331,600. The delay may or may not have been associated with that; I would have to take that on notice.
Mr GARDNER: Can you also take on notice what the noncompliance issues were?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Sure.
Mr GARDNER: There is no funding provided in the investment page for the new Magill education precinct promised prior to the last election which is being worked on at the moment. Why not?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: If I can clarify, what was promised was feasibility study and that is what we are working through with the university. It is common practice that we would not put the money for expenditure until after a feasibility study has been completed and assessed against other priorities.
Mr GARDNER: So it will be assessed against other priorities. There is currently a series of consultation sessions being run with local schools. In particular, I am aware of Magill Primary School and Norwood Morialta High School, which I think the minister knows I have some involvement with as the local member. Can the minister confirm whether this consultation is leading to what decisions are to be made about the future of the proposed Magill education precinct? What I am seeking is simply a reassurance to the communities of the eastern suburbs, the school councils and governing councils involved that this is a real consultation, and not just going through the motions to justify a predetermined outcome.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Absolutely, it is a real consultation. Bear in mind that this is slightly more complex than other feasibility studies that are undertaken because we are working in concert with the university. Apart from that, it is normal practice, and we absolutely take the consultation seriously.
Mr GARDNER: Will the project go ahead if the school communities decide that they do not wish to proceed?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I do not think that we can grant schools a veto right, but that would weigh heavily in the consultation process and in the consideration, ultimately, of where we go.
Mr GARDNER: It would seem more than strange, with a primary school 500 metres up the road and a high school one kilometre one way and this other campus one kilometre the other way, that they would be in competition with a new R-12 school. I urge you to reflect on that as this goes forward if those school communities decide they do not want you to proceed. Of course, they may well decide they do. How will support or otherwise for the proposed precinct be measured?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Let's let the consultation phase be completed. Let's get the feasibility study done and then we can assess. I do not want to be too hypothetical about how this will flow out; I want to let the process work.
Mr GARDNER: The minister would be aware, because she has visited the school, that the Rostrevor campus of the Norwood Morialta High School in particular is in some fairly serious need of refreshment and site improvement. Can the minister reassure that community that if the project at Magill does not go ahead, the school community will still be able to potentially have that refurbishment and site improvement?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: 'Potentially' is the key word there. We have to manage a range of competing needs for infrastructure. We are dealing with a school system that seems to have had a huge injection about 50 or 60 years ago starting to get old and tired in some places. We are doing our absolute best to keep that infrastructure refreshed. We have an asset management masterplan, and Norwood Morialta's issues are well known to us and are on that masterplan, but I am not going to make any commitments, other than all schools matter and Norwood Morialta is like all others.
Mr GARDNER: Yes, it is a very large school with, as you have identified, some significant issues. I will move to another school, the new city high school, still on page 14. Is the new city high school still going to be open for the 2019 school year?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes.
Mr GARDNER: What year levels will the school be offering in its first year?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The intention is to start with the first two year levels and then allow it to build up from there.
Mr GARDNER: So you are talking about years 8 and 9?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That is right.
Mr GARDNER: How will the new zone be determined and who will be determining it?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: There is quite a process so I will just pause to get the advice correct, because we are making sure that there are a number of entities engaged. We formed a reference group and among other important functions it will be recommending the final zone boundaries for the new CBD school and the Adelaide High School that will take effect from 2019. The group will seek advice and consult with a larger stakeholder advisory group for the new CBD school.
Mr GARDNER: You have a reference group and a stakeholder advisory group. How was it determined who was on that reference group and that stakeholder advisory group and, in particular, why weren’t the local member or, indeed, the chair of the Adelaide High School Governing Council included?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: There was an omission that I corrected a couple of days ago when it was brought to my attention. The chair of the governing council from Adelaide High School will be invited onto the stakeholder group. That is the group that has people from governing councils from other primary schools in the area. It already had the principal of Adelaide High School but there was an omission to not have the chair of the governing council and I have rectified that.
Mr GARDNER: That is the stakeholder advisory group. That is the secondary group which will be consulted by the reference group which is doing the work right now that you identified, and that is what I took out of your answer before. Who is on the reference group?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The reference group is essentially a departmental group and will have the new principal on it, when the principal is appointed. The question of zoning will be discussed extensively in the stakeholder group, which is why it is important to have the chair of the governing council of Adelaide High there as well, but that will feed through for formal advice to me via the department, via the reference group.
Mr GARDNER: Is there any impact on the William Light school as well and, if there is, have you considered including the chair of the governing council and the principal of that school on the stakeholder advisory group as well?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will take that on notice because I do not want to answer quickly and make a rush judgement. I will consider that; that is a reasonable question to ask.
Mr GARDNER: Will sibling rights be reinstated for Adelaide High School so that families are not separated by the new school which may take from the existing Adelaide High School catchment area?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That will unfold as we get closer to the date and we are able to identify the zoning, and then Adelaide High School is able to reassess the pressure on its numbers. That may well occur but I am not going to leap ahead.
Mr GARDNER: So basically maybe?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Well, let’s let this unfold.
Mr GARDNER: Just finishing up for the moment on this area, there is also a line for the National Quality Agenda—Preschools, listed for a total cost of $12 million and change, with $3 million budgeted for expenditure this financial year, and the project is due for completion in June 2017. The 2015-16 estimated result is $6.7 million. Last year’s budget papers showed that in 2014-15 the estimated result for that financial year was $6.3 million. So, if that is the case, we have $3 million budgeted for expenditure this year plus $6.7 million for the financial year just finished, and $6.3 million for the financial year before that, according to last year’s budget papers and that all adds up to $16 million, which is $4 million more than the total listed; the total is listed as $12 million on this page here.
I am wondering if those estimated results in this year's and last year's budget papers are correct, and can you provide the actuals—they were $6.3 million and $6.7 million. If not, what are the actual results for those two years? If there has been a cost overrun, then what is the situation?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I am advised it is not an overrun, but we will go back and look through the detail in order to provide you with an answer that you can make sense of.
Mr GARDNER: The answer may be that the actuals are different.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That is right.
Mr GARDNER: The member for Mount Gambier is furiously trying to get your attention, Madam Chair.
The CHAIR: I think he is probably trying to get in past you. Member for Mount Gambier.
Mr BELL: I just want to check something out, and I refer to Budget Paper 4, Volume 2, page 14. Was a feasibility study done for the STEM investment?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: No, that is not what we use feasibility studies for—they are for individual sites.
Mr BELL: So, no feasibility study. I refer to Budget Paper 4, Volume 2, page 23, NAPLAN results. Are you able to indicate what the absentee rate and the exemption rate for NAPLAN testing has been over the last two years, and, if not, certainly this year?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We do not have that data here; we will provide it to you.
Mr BELL: Could it also be broken down, minister, in particular with Indigenous students—just how many have been exempted and how many have been absent for the NAPLAN results?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I am not confident we collect it that way. If we do, we will provide it.
Mr BELL: You break it up in the NAPLAN results with Indigenous students—
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: True.
Mr BELL: —so I assume that it should be able to be done.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Certainly, if we have it we will provide it.
Mr BELL: Page 24, year 9 students achieving the national minimum standard in writing. Particularly with Indigenous students, there was a drop from 46.8 per cent last year to 46.3 per cent. Can you explain this and then detail why that has occurred?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: My understanding is that there was a drop in the year 9 writing performance across the country and that ACER is doing some work to determine why that may have been.
Mr BELL: Yet in your target there—
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, we did not expect that to happen.
Mr BELL: —there has been a slight drop, but I find it unacceptable that less than 50 per cent of Indigenous students are actually meeting the minimum standard, compared to 78.4 per cent of non-Indigenous students. This has been going on year in, year out. What targeted strategies does the department have to address Indigenous achievement in that band?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: And more importantly, not just as is measured by NAPLAN but more generally, the performance by Aboriginal students.
Mr BELL: Absolutely.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It has been an ongoing problem. We have seen increases in performance in many areas, including in attendance—which obviously is an important precursor to performance, and also in terms of retention of Aboriginal students from year 8 through to year 12.
I was extremely pleased, as I am sure you have heard me say before, that with SACE last year we doubled the number of Aboriginal students who have completed high school with a certificate from when the new SACE was introduced in 2011. All that said, Aboriginal students still lag on average. Clearly, there are individual students for whom that is not the case, but Aboriginal students do lag in performance. It is particularly important, of course, that literacy and numeracy skills are of a good quality in order to be able to study everything else.
We have recently made an appointment for an Aboriginal strategic leader within the department, who will have a particular focus on this. We have been working on the lands on an integrated education strategy that links up the schools more coherently in order to measure attendance, in no small measure, but also to translate the curriculum into lessons that are more meaningful and tangible to students on the lands. While the performance remains unacceptable by any measure of someone standing back, activity has been occurring very seriously and will continue to be a major focus for the department.
Mr BELL: As long as that action is producing results. That is why I said in my earlier question that what I would hate to see is Indigenous students not rocking up on NAPLAN testing days, and the ones who do rock up are the ones who the school is reasonably sure will do quite well, and they will boost some of these numbers. That is why I am really interested in the attendance data on those days, as well as the exemption data. I refer to page 20, employee benefit expenses. How many staff are currently on leave with pay?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I do not know; as at a particular date?
Mr BELL: For the last 12 months, or 30 June.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: As at 30 June 2016?
Mr BELL: Yes.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We will get that data for you.
Mr BELL: Could you also check how many have been on leave with pay for a period over 12 months?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, we can check that as at 30 June 2016.
Mr BELL: In terms of the department's intentions around apprenticeship brokers and business partnership managers, are you able to divulge any information regarding those programs going forward?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We remain absolutely committed. I remain absolutely committed to those programs. We are currently in discussions across secondary schools about how they are working, which may or may not be the source of your question, but that is not with the intention of removing, it is with the intention of making sure they are working as best they can and that they are supported as well as they can be.
Mr BELL: So you have no intention of cutting funding for those programs for next year?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Certainly not. We are not on the hunt for savings, we are not on the hunt to stop doing that kind of work. It is about making sure it is working as well as possible.
The CHAIR: Member for Morialta.
Mr GARDNER: Thank you.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: May I refer to your earlier question, just to quickly give you the answer about what the Seaview compliance issues were. They were: fire mains upgrade and electrical transformer.
Mr GARDNER: And, consequently, $330,000 extra needed, which was provided.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That is my advice, yes.
Mr GARDNER: I refer to Budget Paper 3, page 47, commonwealth government payments for specific purposes by category. Students First funding is identified in the range of $4 million to eventually $540 million. Let's just deal with this current financial year and last financial year, for simplicity. How much of that money is going to schools and how much is the department keeping?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We are trying to be practical about it. There are thousands of transactions. We do it every month into schools. What we are trying to do is make it a manageable task to give you the data, end of year—
Mr GARDNER: Can we do it as an annual sum?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We will attempt to do that, yes.
Mr GARDNER: We can go back to Budget Paper 4. Page 19 of Volume 2 has activity indicators. Going to program 1, preschool attendances have dropped from 18,358 in 2014-15 to 17,739 in 2015-16, and there is a slight increase projected for the next year, but only of an extra 41. Why has this drop occurred and what is the level of unmet need in this area?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I think that is going to require a little bit more analysis than we have here. It seems that attendances are around 300 fewer than enrolments pretty consistently, but the question I think you are asking is whether the decline in enrolments, and therefore in attendance, is a measure of a smaller catchment or whether fewer are enrolling because it is not compulsory. We need to do a bit of analysis on that.
Mr GARDNER: I will be interested in that analysis, but I am particularly interested in whether it is also a function of the availability of places and whether there is a level of unmet need.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We do not turn students away. We arrange enrolment either in the centre that is their preferred first or we help them find a centre that is not too far away. I think it is more a question of parents enrolling than it is about not providing a service that parents are asking for.
Mr GARDNER: I understand that you will find a place for every parent when you do have capacity at a site that is the site of first choice. Often it is the first choice because a family has one car and they want to go to the one that is within walking distance. If they are offered a second one that is not within walking distance, I would categorise that as unmet need. Maybe you could ask the department, while you are taking that other question on notice, if there is any analysis also on unmet need or, if you prefer, unmet demand.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We will have a look at it and see what analysis we can find.
Mr GARDNER: I go to the performance indicators. The number of paid primary contact staff with the relevant formal qualifications in preschools is the category. It dropped from 1,496 in 2014‑15 to 1,468 in 2015-16, which was 32 below the target but an actual drop of 28. The target for 2016‑17 is 1,620, and I think the minister has done some television on the announcement of hiring 100 new people in this area. Noting that it did drop by 28 last year, what is the most up-to-date figure of how many there currently are?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Clearly, we have an estimated result there, so we have not yet made a final determination. It is a very small drop, so it may be that when we get the real result it disappears. We have, as you have highlighted, changed the ratio in the centres and that has resulted in the need for some more staff and you will see a bump up this year as a result.
Mr GARDNER: The minister categorises it as a very small drop, but it is a drop of 30 in a context of the government trying to—
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It is not necessarily a real drop.
Mr GARDNER: —attract an extra 100. I think you may have just said that you will take on notice what the figure is right now, how many you have. What I am trying to establish is if we have on the books 1,620 in the budget to be employed. At the moment we have fewer than that, I assume, so we are currently recruiting?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Because of the volatility of staff numbers and the fact that we are only looking at the formal qualifications, we may be employing people who are on the way to getting those formal qualifications and they may be replacing somebody who has retired who has that qualification and they are still on the journey. We will do the proper analysis and provide it to you.
Mr GARDNER: Thank you. Minister, through the National Quality Framework, the department requires a certain number of people who have these qualifications now to be in these centres. I understand that in South Australia we do not allow the employment of people unless they are in training at the very least to be part of this ratio, whereas in other states there can be a process of people having to be within training within three months of commencing that work. Especially given that you have just identified this as one of the reasons why the numbers are dropping below what we have budgeted for—
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: There is a possible reason.
Mr GARDNER: —or targeted for, will the government give consideration, or has the government received any advice on the potential of moving to that framework that other states have where you are allowed to start working there, as long as within three months you enrol in your course?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I have had a delegation from some childcare providers who have lobbied me for that. It was a decision not to do that that was made some time ago through the quality framework. When I sought advice from other childcare providers, they opposed the idea of allowing three months of completely unqualified work, so I have maintained that position.
Mr GARDNER: Did the drop in staff with relevant formal qualifications result in any centres not meeting the required ratios of qualified staff or in any centres being understaffed?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: No. I am advised no.
Mr GARDNER: Minister, can you give us some idea how you are going to meet this target which requires an increase of 152 staff now with the relevant formal qualifications when last year you lost that 28 staff?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I am not sure that we lost 28 staff because that is an estimated result, so we will see what the final result is.
Mr GARDNER: I assume it was at least an educated guess.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We are recruiting actively.
Mr GARDNER: I wish you well. I refer now to page 28 regarding supplies and services. Your department was kind enough to provide an FOI that identified the number of videos and their cost over the last three years. I understand you did a welcome video to schools that was done at no cost which was very efficient of your office, I am sure. In 2014, there were 10 videos costing $85,000; in 2015, apparently there were 49 videos costing $88,000; and in 2016, presumably so far, and this was a week or two ago, there had been 15 videos at a cost of $199,822. What videos are being produced by DECD, and why is there an increase in expenditure from $88,000 for 49 videos last year to $199,000 for 15 videos so far this year?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will pause to seek some advice but I point out that the kind of video that I do is just a camera looking at me and I say some things; that should not cost money.
Mr GARDNER: Presumably nothing spent on script writers or anything like that.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Indeed not. As you know, I pride myself on thinking up my own lines.
Mr GARDNER: It is a good quality but it is not the only way that ministers do it.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Of course, and other people also perform extremely well. To compare that with the kinds of videos (and I will seek some more detailed advice shortly) that are about improving the quality of teaching and learning is a pretty big difference between a minister just saying a few things to staff and providing the kinds of materials that are assisting teachers and principals. I will just seek a little bit more advice.
As expected, we are increasingly moving to online training in order to minimise staff movements and to avail ourselves of the kind of digital technology that is increasingly available and adds an enormous amount of value to the offerings. So, we are producing that kind of material and we are spending the money that is required to make it of a high quality.
Mr GARDNER: Where are these videos being produced and who is producing them?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will have to get that information for you. I do not have that with me. I know it is a very recent FOI and I do not believe I have a brief here for that.
Mr GARDNER: I am not being critical of not having the information here in this case, but can you also identify in taking on notice any relevant businesses contracted to do work for DECD that makes up some of this expenditure?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, I will have a look at that.
The CHAIR: The kids will do it.
Mr GARDNER: I think the Chair is offering to get out her mobile phone and help. Given that the FOI dated 21 July provided by the opposition categorised these numbers in calendar year, how many more videos are planned for the remainder of this year and at what cost?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will find out. If we even have a plan that we can provide, we will.
Mr GARDNER: Page 20, just on the FTEs, listed 19,947 at the moment, going up to 20,029.6. Can the minister identify how many of these FTEs are in schools and working on school sites?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: What I am wrestling with is the way that budget papers present FTEs and the reality of human beings. The budget paper has expressed an increase in our money in an FTE form. We are still in the process of allocating how that money is spent. Obviously, the vast majority of what we do happens in schools, but because they are not real people I cannot give you a real number.
Mr GARDNER: Can you provide, then, in the format that the education department would use, total staff numbers and total staff working in schools?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, and I think that can be wrapped up with the previous question you asked about the number in Flinders Street.
Mr GARDNER: I have maybe a couple of others in the same vein, then. Do you have any targeted voluntary separation expectations for this year?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We do not have a target for TVSPs.
Mr GARDNER: I think I was going to ask, given there is 500 more in the estimated result than in the budget, whether have an actual number for the end-of-year FTEs now, but I think you answered that in what you have already taken on notice. How many staff were separated last financial year?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The total number of employees as of 6 July 2016 who have separated by accepting a TVSP in 2015-16 was 78 employees, which is the equivalent of 73.7 FTE.
Mr GARDNER: How many of those were separated while in the process of disciplinary action or indeed were terminated on performance grounds?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will take that on notice.
Mr GARDNER: Perhaps separate numbers. Can I also get the number of teachers who commenced having performance management reviews or were advised of the same during 2015‑16?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Sure. I believe I have that here. For the financial year July 2015 to July 2016, two teachers were dismissed for unsatisfactory performance, 18 teachers who were the subject of a managing unsatisfactory performance process have resigned or retired from the department and five teachers are currently directed away from the work site as a result of the conclusion of unsatisfactory performance process. As of 30 June 2016, a total of 35 teachers were part of a managing unsatisfactory performance process, excluding the five and the three.
Mr GARDNER: On page 36, Expenses variations, the papers identify a $1.9 million projected increase in workers compensation expenditure. Why is this expected to increase by this amount?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That data is produced by Treasury based on their estimate of our outcome. We will have to therefore take on notice what has gone into producing that figure.
Mr GARDNER: Page 13 deals with the minister's office resources. The minister's office has gone from $1.7 million in last year's budget to $1.838 million on this line for the same number of FTEs. Can the minister advise why that increase has taken place but also—and perhaps you may have taken this on notice in previous years and I am happy for you to do that today—what other staff work in the minister's office other than those identified here, and from where are they funded?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will take that on notice, yes.
Mr GARDNER: Thank you.
Mr DULUK: Minister, I have a few questions around the master's degree initiative.
The CHAIR: What page are you on?
Mr DULUK: Page 20 of Budget Paper 4, Volume 2, within the program summary. Is the government still committed to its master's degree by 2020 policy?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The program line that you are looking at I would expect to be referring to the scholarships that we provide for our existing teachers to get their master's qualifications. We are offering some 240 master's scholarships to the value of $20,000 each and they will be offered over six years until 2019 and be eligible for public education teachers.
The question about our position on masters for teachers, although it technically properly belongs in the higher education and skills section, I will deal with it now given that I am higher education and skills. We are confronted by successive ministers at the federal level who have refused to give the universities an increase in their cap in order to be able to produce masters and I am currently working through how we can deal with that.
Mr DULUK: How many DECD teachers currently have a master's degree?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We will have to take that on notice.
Mr DULUK: Thank you. Since 2013, when I think the policy was first announced, how many new teachers coming into the system have completed a master's degree?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will take it on notice, but are you referring specifically to working in DECD schools or becoming registered as teachers?
Mr DULUK: Who are working in the system.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will get back to you on that.
Mr DULUK: In that same vein, how many teachers does DECD expect will have master's degrees by the end of 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We can answer now for the scholarships that we are providing for existing teachers, but I cannot answer for the teachers coming in.
Mr DULUK: Will teachers entering the school system with a master's degree be paid more than those teachers who do not have the equivalent qualification?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: No, that is not how teachers are paid.
Mr GARDNER: I go to page 24, which refers to activity indicators. The minister mentioned in her opening address the figure of $16,040 per student. Can we have a breakdown of how much of that average amount per student is spent on school staff, programs and services within schools, and how much is overhead for head office or, indeed, anywhere else? If I can have that for the last three years, that would be fantastic. I suspect it has probably been supplied to others before.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: My advice is that you have asked this previously—
Mr GARDNER: Not me.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Not you; forgive me, of course—but that we are unable to produce the data in that form. I can take it on notice and we can have another look, but my best advice is that we cannot produce it like that.
Mr GARDNER: Have a contemplate. We will go to page 14 and just touch a bit more on the small projects. The budget papers list the 2015-16 budget for small projects is $18.5 million, with $13.2 million having been spent. I am actually looking at last year's budget papers, and they list only $2.5 million as the 2015-16 budget for small projects. Why is there such a large inconsistency between the figure in last year's budget and this year's budget papers?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I am advised, due to the complexity of the answer, that I am best throwing to Julianne Riedstra.
Ms RIEDSTRA : The small projects category is made up of those projects with a certain level of spend in each financial year, and I believe that is $300,000. So, the projects within the small projects category change depending on what their spend is in the current financial year.
Mr GARDNER: That was not so complex.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: No, I am pretty sure I could have handled that.
Mr GARDNER: Can the minister provide a list of all the small projects funded under this program in 2015-16, including the costs involved with each, and those to be funded in 2016-17?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes.
Mr GARDNER: The preschool relocation program is listed for a completion date of September 2016 with $1.3 million to be spent in the 2016-17 financial year. Last year's budget papers identified a completion date of March 2016. Why has there been a six-month delay in completing the project, and can we have a full list of all the preschools that have been relocated under this program, where they came from to where they have been relocated and the cost?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We do not have the answer for the six-month delay. It could be anything. It could be a delay in one project with a weather issue that would see that apparent delay. I think we do have the list here, but given you are down to two minutes, we will take it on notice and give it to you.
Mr GARDNER: That is very kind of you; thank you. Evanston Gardens Primary School is listed for a total cost of $6 million, with $3 million budgeted for this financial year. The project is due for completion during 2017. The 2015-16 estimated results of $2.4 million. Last year's budget papers shows the estimated result for 2014-15 as $1.4 million. So, again, if those estimated results are correct, the total expenditure is $6.9 million which is nearly $1 million over budget. Are those estimated results correct, and if not, what are the actual results for those two years? If there has been a cost overrun, why is that the case?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It is certainly not a cost overrun; it is likely that it is about a shift in financial years. What we will do is give you the project flow.
Mr GARDNER: I refer to trade training centre programs listed for a completion date of June 2016. Last year's budget papers identified December 2015. Has this project now concluded, and was the June 2016 completion date met? Why was there a six-month delay?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It is likely to be the same answer, so we will again give you the full project flow.
Mr GARDNER: Did the total cost of the project meet the budget of $78.8 million total?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The expectation is yes, but we will confirm that.
Mr GARDNER: Can I just confirm, has it concluded or not?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We will double-check that. We believe that it has, but we will double-check and also confirm the figures.
Mr BELL: But the apprenticeship brokers are going to stay on?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The federal government funds the capital: we fund the staff.
Mr BELL: Correct.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: So what we are talking about is the expenditure of the capital.
Mr BELL: So, the centres are going to be closed but the apprenticeship brokers will stay on.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: No, we are building them.
Mr GARDNER: I have one last question in this area, given that we have one minute left, on school fees, Budget Paper 3, page 50, Sales of goods and services. I assume that is the line that deals with the schools material and services fees. Does it include any other fees?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It does include other fees. It includes the materials and services, but it is not exclusively that.
Mr GARDNER: It seems a little high. Can we please have a figure of what is the materials and services fee collected over the last year and the year before?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I am not sure that we can provide that because we rely on the data the schools give us. I am pretty sure I had to deal with this last year, and I appreciate that was not you, and we were unable to disentangle it because we were relying on data coming in from schools.
Mr GARDNER: What are the other fees that this does include? On the following page, there is a separate list of other revenue that talks about a number of school-related—
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It also includes the money that we provide to schools for School Card holders because they do not pay and also other revenue such as parent contributions to ID cards and so on. It is substantially the school fees but by no means exclusively and, particularly for schools that have a high proportion of School Card, that is our money going around.
Mr GARDNER: In terms of ID cards, that is a charge of the school presumably in the manner of an extra addition to a school fee—
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes.
Mr GARDNER: —and then there are the school fees themselves, and then there is the money that would have been for school fees were it not the department paying for the School Card.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes.
Mr GARDNER: It sounds very much like this is the figure for school fees, except that an aspect of it is paid for by the department through the School Card process.
Ms JOHNSTON : The figure is an estimate of the amount of revenue we anticipate getting. The actual amount can vary depending on the level of school fees that the school council has determined will be levied at that particular school.
Mr GARDNER: Finally, does the department have any analysis of what the cost of collecting these fees is, including taking into account unpaid fees?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We do not collect that data. We do have a free service run from the department for bad debt collection but that is not all of the question you have asked.
The CHAIR: Would you like to do omnibus questions now and save some time at the end?
Mr GARDNER: Yes—fine chairmanship.
1.Will the minister provide a detailed breakdown of expenditure on consultants and contractors above $10,000 in 2015-16 for all departments and agencies reporting to the minister, listing the name of the consultant, contractor or service supplier, cost, work undertaken and method of appointment?
2.In financial year 2015-16 for all departments and agencies reporting to the minister, what underspending on projects and programs (1) was and (2) was not approved by cabinet for carryover expenditure in 2016-17?
3.For each department and agency reporting to the minister, please provide a breakdown of attraction, retention and performance allowances, as well as non-salary benefits, paid to public servants and contractors in the years 2014-15 and 2015-16.
4.For each year of the forward estimates, please provide the name and budget of all grant programs administered by all departments and agencies reporting to the minister, and for 2015‑16 provide a breakdown of expenditure on all grants administered by all departments and agencies reporting to the minister, listing the name of the grant recipient, the amount of the grant, the purpose of the grant and whether the grant was subject to a grant agreement as required by Treasurer's Instruction 15.
5.For each year of the forward estimates, please provide the corporate overhead costs allocated to each individual program and subprogram administered by or on behalf of all departments and agencies reporting to the minister.
6.For each department and agency reporting to the minister, could you detail:
(a)How much was spent on targeted voluntary separation packages in 2015‑16?
(b)Which department funded these TVSPs?
(c)What number of TVSPs was funded?
(d)What is the budget for targeted voluntary separation packages for financial years included in the forward estimates (by year), and how these packages are to be funded?
7.What is the title and total employment cost of each individual staff member in the minister's office as at 30 June 2016, including all departmental employees seconded to ministerial offices and ministerial liaison officers?
Dr N. McGoran, Chief Executive, SACE Board.
Mr R. Persse, Chief Executive, Department for Education and Child Development.
Mr C. Bernardi, Chief Finance Officer, Department for Education and Child Development.
Ms J. Riedstra, Deputy Chief Executive, Corporate Services, Department for Education and Child Development.
Ms A. Hayes, Executive Director, Department for Education and Child Development.
Ms K. Jordan, Acting Executive Director, Office for Strategy and Performance, Department for Education and Child Development.
Mr M. Petrovski, Adviser, Department for Education and Child Development.
The CHAIR: Minister, would you like to introduce your new advisers?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Thank you. On my right is Dr Neil McGoran who is the Chief Executive of the SACE Board, on my immediate left is Kathryn Jordan, who is the Acting Executive Director of the Office for Strategy in the department, and I have already introduced Juliann Riedstra previously.
The CHAIR: Any statements?
Mr GARDNER: No. I have just identified the omnibus questions relevant, and I assume the minister is going to take those on notice?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I did not officially do that, did I? I take all of those on notice.
The CHAIR: She does, it is understood.
Mr GARDNER: I understand that, I just like to be careful. I have no issues with this minister. Page 32 of Budget Paper 5 talks about the SACE Board's new modernisation program and identifies that there are 11 FTEs to come as part of that this year. Budget Paper 4, Volume 2, page 13 states that FTEs are to effectively stay stable at 109—a drop from 109.2. If new people are coming in—11 new people identified in this initiative in Budget Paper 5—but the numbers are staying the same, are some people being exited?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We do not have a ready explanation for the anomaly, so we will take that on notice.
Mr GARDNER: For the benefit of Hansard, I should say 'removed' rather than 'exited' because it is an easily misread word. Is there any plan to move data entry and processing requirements from SACE into schools?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Sorry, you are speaking slightly too fast for my cold-ridden ears.
Mr GARDNER: Sorry, I was still in the mode of asking omnibus questions.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: You are conscious of the time.
Mr GARDNER: Is there any plan to move data entry and processing obligations from SACE into schools?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The short answer is no at present because the SACE results, as you are well aware, are an interplay between continuous assessment occurring within the school and then the final, externally assessed, examination for most subjects. The teachers are currently entering data about the results as they go, and there is no expectation of that changing.
Mr GARDNER: What analysis has been done on any extra responsibilities schools will have to upgrade their IT systems? The money in here is for SACE to upgrade its systems. Schools presumably will want to operate within these new systems, so what expectations will schools have and what cost funding has been provided for that?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: The SACE Board is going through a process at present to work with schools to determine whether there are implications, but our expectation from the departmental end is that there will not be, particularly because we are in a digital age and increasingly having schools use a high degree of technology, and we are simultaneously in the process of preparing for NAPLAN online.
Mr GARDNER: In relation to the SACE modernisation, the materials produced identify '8 on screen examinations by 2020, commencing with English Literary Studies in 2018'. Can you identify what the rollout is expected to be? Are there others in 2018 or 2019? What subjects will they be and eventually what subjects will those eight subjects be by 2020?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I will invite Dr McGoran to answer that.
Dr McGORAN: Through you, minister, 2018 is English Literary Studies, which is the second part of the external assessment. It is a new subject, which is currently called English Studies, but next year it is taught as English Literary Studies in year 12 for the first time. It has two components of its external assessment: one is a literature study done at school and the second part is an examination online close reading.
That will be the first examination in 2018. In 2019, we have English as an Additional Language, which will be an on-screen examination, history and geography. In 2020, we are adding psychology, biology, accounting and economics. With regard to those last four in 2020, we are about to renew the accounting and economic subjects, and at the moment we have the intention of those being online examinations.
Mr GARDNER: It is also identified that the initiative will incorporate:
marking on screen 42,000 external assessments;
moderating on screen the work completed for school assessment;
marking on screen 17 examinations;
I just want some clarity about what those 17 examinations are. Are they the subjects that we have just been talking about?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: No, it is a combination of the subjects we are talking about and ones that will be scanned in. An example would be that for mathematics there is a lot of working out required, and therefore doing it on screen directly does not necessarily add any value. However, being able to scan that and submit it and have it marked speedily and much more efficiently is of benefit in comparison with the way that we undertake that now. If you want a full list of the nine that will be scanned, I would have to turn to Dr McGoran.
Mr GARDNER: I will take the list of the eight on-screen examinations plus nine that will be scanned.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We will provide you with a list.
Mr GARDNER: In relation to the SACE International aspect, there is an opportunity to introduce a midyear result cycle. It is listed on the document I have from the website as:
A mid-year results cycle in Asia in 2018 to:
—facilitate the continued expansion of the SACE; and
—help attract more overseas students…
Is that midyear results cycle to be made available within South Australia to South Australian students as well?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It is not intended for 2018, no. It is specifically designed to recognise the different school year that occurs in the Northern Hemisphere.
Mr GARDNER: The question would be broader for me, then, because I would have thought, firstly, that we are not only trying to attract Asian countries to adopt SACE as an export for us but also encouraging international students to come to South Australia. There are plenty of other people who are undertaking the SACE in non-traditional schooling hours and environments. Is there no capacity for South Australian schools to offer this midyear marking opportunity?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Our expectation is that there will be that capacity, but not that we are attempting that for 2018. Absolutely one of the features of the modernisation of SACE is that we will be able to offer that in the future in South Australia as well. We just have not yet determined that as part of the project plan, the timing of that.
Mr GARDNER: I go back to the direct budget papers for a little bit. I refer to Budget Paper 4, Volume 2, page 13, workforce summary. Last year, there was an increase from 102.4 to 109. I was just wondering if there was any particular reason for that increase.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That was a particular project provided by the state government to enable the articulation of the Australian curriculum into the SACE.
Mr GARDNER: Is the SACE Board aware, or is the minister aware, of the trend amongst a number of schools to offer their students the opportunity to do their research project in year 11, rather than in year 12, and then encourage their students to do five subjects at year 12 level? Is there any consideration being given to restructuring the SACE to leave the research project potentially as compulsory, as the government wishes to do, but at year 11 rather than at year 12 level?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I am a very big fan of the research project, and I am happy to go on record as saying that. The research project is a stage 2 level subject. It is up to the school to allow individual students, or indeed their whole cohort, to undertake that in the stage 1 year, but they will be assessed at a stage 2 level. At present, there is no contemplation of altering either the level that it is assessed at or the fact that we allow schools to make those local decisions.
Mr GARDNER: Do you have any idea how many schools are doing that within the DECD schools, offering it at year 11?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I would have to take that on notice and see whether we collect that data. I doubt that Dr McGoran would have that here. No.
Mr GARDNER: I am sure you will bring it back if you can. Can we go to page 38 of Volume 2, which talks about cash outflows. I note that the SACE Board expended $5.9 million on supplies and services; one of those would be, no doubt, for the annual year 12 merit ceremony, which we understand costs about $100,000 a year to run. The 2016 ceremony was recent. I notice that the back of the booklet in this year's 2016 merit ceremony identifies thanks to the Adelaide City Council, BankSA, Nippy's, St John Ambulance and Santos. Is there sponsorship coming in that helps fund these merit ceremonies? Is that what the thanks are for?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I am uncertain from the advice I have here whether there is any financial contribution. Largely, or possibly entirely, this is in-kind support in the form of water, the Santos tent hospitality, the presence of St John Ambulance and so on.
Mr GARDNER: And BankSA banking facilities supplied on site at Government House?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That does seem unlikely, but it may be that they provide something that is of use. I have no idea if it is the supply of the water but, given that it always seems to be suffocatingly hot for those ceremonies, that is a useful thing to have. If you like, we can find out some more detail about what each of those organisations that we thank provide.
Mr GARDNER: If you have it here, or you could take it on notice, I do not mind, what is the total cost of the merit ceremony for 2016?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Sorry, we believe the State Bank provides a tent with its name on it, but we need—
Mr GARDNER: I thought that was Santos's tent.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: There are several tents.
Mr GARDNER: Okay, so multiple tents.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: There are a lot of students who do very well.
Mr GARDNER: Indeed.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I missed your most recent question because I was still answering the last one.
Mr GARDNER: It was about the total cost of the merit ceremony for 2016.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We will take that on notice.
Mr GARDNER: Were any event management contractors used?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Sorry, $104,000. I was thinking about the next ceremony.
Mr GARDNER: So, $104,000 for 2016's ceremony?
Dr McGORAN : This year's ceremony?
Mr GARDNER: Yes, the one that has just taken place in February or March.
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, that is what I am advised.
Mr GARDNER: Was an event management contractor used?
Dr McGORAN : Yes.
Mr GARDNER: Last year, that event management company cost about $23,000. Why is the government using an event management company to run a ceremony at Government House?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Well, it is a pretty sophisticated event and requires a lot of logistics dealing with lots of individual students, families, and of course different schools, so I am not surprised that the SACE Board has determined that that is a sensible use of their resources to make sure that the merit ceremonies go well.
Mr GARDNER: So, this is a decision taken by the SACE Board with no involvement of government to have that expense?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, that is right. I show up, obviously, and I believe we invite the shadow as well to attend.
Mr GARDNER: I am sure I was represented because somebody gave me the booklet. I think I was in parliament and unable to get a pair, unlike the minister, to whom we kindly gave a pair, from memory. I stand to be corrected. Last year, $338 was identified as being an event expense to South Australia Police. Are you able to identify what that was for?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We will take that on notice.
Mr GARDNER: I will now shift to cash outflows, still on page 38. There is an item listed as transport concession to students and children, and that has dropped from $19.8 million to $13.2 million over the last two years. How has that reduction been achieved?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We will have to refer that question to Treasury. We are happy to do that and provide the answer, but it is an amount that is calculated by Treasury to provide to the department for transport so we do not have line of sight into the assessment of how much is required.
Mr GARDNER: This is for metropolitan bus services, rather than for students with disability transport. That is a different budget line, is it?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: That is right.
Mr DULUK: I refer to Budget Paper 5, page 31, regarding non-government schools capital support. I understand that the Treasurer has claimed recently that this money would target disadvantaged schools rather than obviously the wealthier private schools. However, I could not find any details in the budget papers about that claim. Can you advise if there are any criteria that would prevent any particular school from applying, or is it the Treasurer just making an assumption that the wealthier schools would be less likely to need a loan to undertake capital construction?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We are in the process of developing the criteria and guidelines for the scheme. We have been doing that in concert with the other two sectors and my department, and we will be releasing that before long. Educational need is absolutely a feature of those guidelines, but I am not going to release the detail until I have had consensus.
Mr DULUK: The money was put on the table before the guidelines were put in place?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It was always understood that we would develop these guidelines and articulate clearly. What is clear, and what I believe is in the budget papers, is that we take account of the needs of the school.
Mr DULUK: But do you see that there will be exclusions for some schools in this area?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: I would rather release the agreed version of the guidelines, but educational disadvantage is absolutely a feature of them.
Mr DULUK: The budget paper also states, 'All loans will be subject to demonstrated educational merit and appropriate finance assessment criteria.' Can you explain how that educational merit will be judged?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: When I release the guidelines, you will see.
Mr DULUK: Moving on to page 32, on the SACE Board, what services are currently provided by the SACE Board to other countries?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We have for universities the preparation year service in Malaysia and then we have schools in China that are currently in the process of starting to teach or shortly will teach the SACE at the high-school level.
Mr DULUK: How many FTEs are allocated to those services?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: We have one dedicated resource to work with other countries, which is a 0.7 resource. Other than that, the servicing of the relationship and the assessment and so on is done by the SACE Board as a whole and we do not distinguish.
Mr DULUK: Is there a separate operational cost to provide these services and how they offset against any associated income stream?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, there is. I will ask Dr McGoran to talk in a bit more detail about the costings.
Dr McGORAN : With our provision of services to Malaysia and China, our income stream is that initially there is a fee that the school pays to the SACE Board to become a SACE international provider, and that is a regulated fee. There is also an annual fee the school pays which covers, if you like, some of the provision of the professional learning we provide them annually, which is essentially clarifying forums where staff go and visit and work with teachers on standards.
Then there is a per-student fee. In Malaysia, there is a regulated figure for that, and in China it is a larger fee because there are fewer schools and it is a greater distance between them and the costs are greater to us. The board manages that revenue and then puts against that its costs for the staff who are doing that work and ensures that there is a profit back to the board.
Mr DULUK: Is it envisaged that these services will be expanded?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: Yes, it is.
Mr DULUK: What is the process for that to occur over the next 12 months?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: There are relationships that have been established in the form of MOUs with schools in China that need to be developed into full offering of service. Dr McGoran signed an MOU with a school in Vietnam; we are yet to be clear whether that will advance to offering, but it is in the pipeline.
Mr DULUK: Any other plan for the next 12 months? Any other MOUs?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: For offering the SACE, they are the plans at present: consolidating and expanding in China and the potential for moving into Vietnam. There is also the potential for an arrangement with the Hanoi government in Vietnam to offer services by the Institute of Educational Assessors. We have a separate body that has the expertise of how to do assessment and how to moderate assessment, and they expressed interest in that when Dr McGoran met with them a month ago. They have not signed an MOU yet, so the signing of an MOU would be the next stage. That would, again, be fee for service.
Mr BELL: Minister, could you detail the support provided for country teachers or moderators to come up to Adelaide and be supported in their development of either moderation or SACE achievement?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: There are two elements of support for assessment and moderation. There are the clarifying forums and then there is moderation work, and you would know that better than I do. The clarifying forums are provided online as well as in Adelaide, and the department would support teachers to attend those. When it comes to the moderation, however, the SACE Board does provide a TRT to the school and travel for the staff to come.
Mr BELL: Has that budget increased or decreased in the last 12 months?
The Hon. S.E. CLOSE: It has slightly increased for moderation.
Sitting suspended from 11:30 to 12:00.