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Transcript 16058

Radio Interview with the Acting Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard, ABC NewsRadio

Photo of Rudd, Kevin

Rudd, Kevin

Period of Service: 03/12/2007 to 24/06/2010

More information about Rudd, Kevin on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 11/08/2008

Release Type: Interview

Transcript ID: 16058

GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: Here at home, Education Minister Julia Gillard has called for Australian schools to open their doors to public scrutiny so parents can get a clear idea of what's happening in the classroom.

Ms Gillard says local schools should follow an American model, which allows parents to track the academic achievements of schools and to know the social and economic background of other students.

Julia Gillard, who is currently the Acting Prime Minister as Kevin Rudd continues his tour of Asia, is speaking here to Marius Benson.

MARIUS BENSON: Julia Gillard, you seem to be suggesting that schools around Australia are being a bit too secretive at the moment. Is that fair?

JULIA GILLARD: I don't think it's a question of schools being secretive. I think what we know about our education system if we look right across the board - the State system and the Catholic and Independent systems - is we don't have all the information that should be in the public domain to help us make the best possible decisions about the future of education. So it's time for a change.

I think we should know, school by school, the percentage of students in each school who are likely to face educational difficulties - people from low socio-economic status homes, Indigenous children, children with disabilities, children from non-English speaking backgrounds. And we should be able to attract attainment, school by school, then we could compare comparable schools, and if one was doing much better than another, we could say why and we could learn from that best practice.

MARIUS BENSON: Probably a lot of parents would say we'd like to know more about the attainment of schools. But what you're suggesting in terms of disabilities and individual socio-economic groups that conjures up pictures of parents perhaps ringing up a school and saying, “How many Aboriginal children there? How many poor children there?” Is that the sort of enquiry that is good for parent-school relations?

JULIA GILLARD: I think people know things like that about schools in their own locality. I think people can wander around suburbs and point to schools and have some understanding of who's in that school. What we don't have and what would be very useful for funding and other decisions is to be able to track disadvantage in schools nationally.

We're currently talking to our state and territory colleagues and the Independent and Catholic school systems about making new and additional resources available for those schools that are in disadvantaged communities and which are likely to have special needs. Now if you're going to make additional resources available, then you obviously need to be able to identify where they'll do the most good.

MARIUS BENSON: You're speaking about another education issue and post-education issue today, which is a concern about a lot of young Australians who are neither in education nor in employment.

JULIA GILLARD: That's right. I'm speaking today at the Conference of the Australian Council for Educational Research. We know by international standards, that too many young Australians don't make a successful transition from school to work or study. Too many young Australians either end up not working or studying at all, or working part-time or perhaps studying part-time, but not really making a strong transition into the next stage if their lives.

We need to be doing what we can in the upper years of secondary schooling to make sure that people have the skills and information they need to make a successful transition to the next stage of their lives.

MARIUS BENSON: Can I just ask you a political question in your capacity as Acting Prime Minister? The Northern Territory election was held at the weekend. The result is still in the balance - Labor might lose, might hang on. Kevin Rudd says there are important lessons for Labor in the Territory result. What are the important lessons in your mind?

JULIA GILLARD: Well, I would say looking at the result in the Northern Territory first that the Chief Minister there, Paul Henderson, consistently said that this was going to be a close election where it would come down to a handful of votes and a handful of seats and he's been proved right.

And I think Paul Henderson said those things because he understood that the Northern Territory electorate is a volatile one. We're talking about very small seats because we're talking about a small population in the Northern Territory - that tends to make for volatility.

And I think Kevin Rudd is right that the lesson from this poll - for all politicians - is that you can never be complacent. You've always got to be out there doing the job everyday.

As you said, we don't know yet what the Northern Territory result will be. It's too close to call, but it will obviously become clear during the course of this week as counting continues.

MARIUS BENSON: Julia Gillard, thank you very much.


GLEN BARTHOLOMEW: That's the Acting Prime Minister and the Education Minister, Julia Gillard, speaking to Marius Benson

Transcript 16058