Question - School Curriculum


This government is absolutely committed to ensuring that, particularly for those students who flourish in the humanities—in language, music, philosophy programs, and those sorts of things—but also exposure for all students to that side of the brain to have thinking. Some students are going to deliver for their communities by being great scientists and mathematicians on a STEM pathway. Some students are going to deliver for their communities by being linguists, by being musicians, by being performers, by accessing the sorts of programs that the member raises.

This budget is committed to languages education. It is a multimillion dollar commitment that follows on from the commitments that the Liberal Party took to the election and announced in August last year. We applauded the former government when they later got on board and put some support towards those initiatives. I note that one of them in particular—the French bilingual program at Highgate Primary School—we were able to rescue from some recent difficulties in the way that the former government had constructed the program. There were some good ideas in that program, but it was underfunded to deliver the outcomes that were needed. This government was able to step in and provide some extra funding to enable a second class to be delivered.

A second class was funded by the school this year only, and the school didn't have the support from the previous government to have those two classes as an ongoing measure. That's somewhere where this government stepped in and improved upon the service that was available for those students, which is particularly important as we are developing our shipbuilding capacity in combination with the Naval Group where there are international families who need to be in that French program. There are in fact—

Members interjecting:

The SPEAKER: Please be seated for one moment. Members, please cease interjecting and making that shooshing sound. Minister.

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: Indeed, this government stepped in to support the local families at that school and indeed families from French backgrounds. I know the member for Unley lobbied hard, but it didn't take much convincing for me to think that it was important for us to step in and provide that funding as needed. More broadly, language programs will be supported across a range of areas: professional development programs, the School of Languages and the Ethnic Schools Association—a range of programs.

The government also has a $5 million, or thereabouts, program to support music, a music strategy where we are working with a range of partners. This includes a range of stakeholders. I had dinner with a good number of them just the week before last. I believe Dr Anita Collins was the particular speaker who brought us together. I thank Geoff Day and Musica Viva for organising the dinner. It was in collaboration with the department, Vince Ciccarello of the ASO—who was unable to be at this function but with whom I have spoken about this strategy on a number of occasions—and Adelaide University which, through their relevant school, has been supporting the program, particularly Graham Koehne as head of Elder Conservatorium.

The government in April or possibly May went out for public consultation, engaging with music teachers in schools, hourly paid instructors, instrumental music teachers, staff of the education department instrumental music—in fact, the entire community was invited to participate in that consultation. That work is being brought together at the moment by the Department for Education.

Music is really important in children's development. In fact, I was reading a book last night by Anita Collins that I found particularly relevant about the role of singing to one's own child. I have a rendition of Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car that I can say is received very well by certain audiences. But the role of music in child development is critically important, and the role of music in schools is critically important. This government would like to see more of that.

Languages I dwell on because the status of languages in South Australia is tremendously important. In 2002, when the previous government came into office, about one in eight students in South Australia did a language as part of their year 12 SACE studies. Last year, it was less than 5 per cent—less than one in 20. That is a disappointing trajectory for languages. This government would like to see it turned around, and we will endeavour to work with schools across all those fields.

Dr Close interjecting:

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: I'm not sure what the shadow minister is talking about. We have just increased funding by $515 million.