Private music instructors

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (17:04): Can I echo the words of the Member for Morialta. What the state government is doing in regard to private instrumental tuition in government schools is an absolute disgrace and a shame. It is extremely short-sighted and it is going to be to the detriment of young children and those at school who want to continue to have private music tuition. This is not a case of needing or having private instrumental teachers going into public schools at the expense of The Instrumental Music Service.

It is a complementary provision for children who are in our schools. It really is no different—and this is the short-sightedness of the department and the minister—from having a private provider come in and perhaps coach cricket or take the cricket team or the footy team or a private provider who has an expertise in drama who might come in and take a special course. We are doing a great disservice to students who are currently learning musical instruments from private providers. We are hurting private providers who use going to schools as an income stream.

My own dad was a private provider of music services in a public school for about 20 years, teaching flute, clarinet and sax. I find it hard to believe that, under this proposal, my dad would not have been able to be a private provider in a government school. I wonder how dad would have been able to do his part in terms of providing food on the table for his family if he had not been able to be a private provider in the music system. It is very short-sighted. It smacks of union control, once again, in the Education Union.

I commend the member for Morialta for the work he has been doing in this area, with almost 1,500 signatures on his online petition, which is actually quite a lot of people. Knowing that you can learn the saxophone at a private school is not at the front of everyone's mind. We are not talking about affecting hundreds of thousands of kids, but we are saying that it is affecting quite a number of schools and quite a number of private providers. If we want to offer the best education in our system, if we want to offer choice in our education system, which we do on this side of the house, we should allow children to have the opportunity in all disciplines—in this case, in the music discipline—to learn from those who are wonderful providers as we have wonderful private providers and wonderful IMS providers of musical services.

As I said, this is not about choosing one over the other. It is about giving children and families choice in our education system. You would have thought that, after all the mishaps and the poor NAPLAN results in our system at the moment, the government would be doing all it could to offer that choice to parents, to offer that choice to private providers and to really celebrate and acknowledge the importance of instrumental music in our schools.

I also want to talk about education this afternoon and the recent Your School report, published in The Weekend Australian at the beginning of October. The report provided a comprehensive assessment of the school education system in Australia. The report was a celebration of achievement, but for South Australia there was very little to celebrate in the report. For those who have not read the report, I would like to highlight some of the figures to the house.

Only one South Australian school was in the nation's top 100 primary schools in reading, writing and numeracy, and this was not a government school. Only two South Australian schools were in the nation's top 100 secondary schools in reading, writing and numeracy, and indeed these schools were not government schools. There were no South Australian schools in the nation's top 50 comprehensive public primary schools, and only one South Australian school was in the nation's top 50 comprehensive private primary schools. No South Australian school was in the nation's top 50 comprehensive public secondary schools, and only two South Australian schools were in the nation's top 50 comprehensive private schools.

As I progressed through the report, I reached page 11, which featured the names of a number of South Australian schools. I thought, 'This must be good,' but then I looked at the title. Sadly, it was the list of the nation's least funded schools per student. An incredible 31 South Australian schools featured, more than in any other state in this list. Moreover, South Australian schools made up seven of the top 20 in that list, and that included Coromandel Valley Primary School, located in my electorate. The report made me wonder: what has the state Labor government achieved in education in this state in its 14 years to date in office? Unfortunately, it appears not a lot and, unfortunately, there are more examples of government failings.

An analysis undertaken of NAPLAN results between 2010 and 2015 shows that in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 South Australian students finished at or above the national minimum standard only once, and that was in 2010 when the year 7 cohort was at or above the national minimum standard. In South Australia the average was 93.82 per cent and the national average that year was 93.42 per cent. So, South Australia was below or above national minimum standard on every other occasion. When all the results from the period are averaged out, South Australia was well below the national average and only marginally ahead of Tasmania and Northern Territory.

It is interesting that, whether it be in education, the state of our economy, our job statistics or when we measure young people leaving South Australia (which I know the member for Chaffey is very passionate about), we are only marginally ahead or with Tasmania and the Northern Territory. We are not up there competing with New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland or Western Australia. We continue to fall behind in the exodus of young people leaving our state. In our jobless figures, we are well behind in terms of reducing the unemployment rate. In economic activity, we have some of the lowest business confidence in the nation.

Of course, when it comes to education and NAPLAN results, we are pretty much at the bottom. This is a pretty outrageous statistic in terms of our educational achievements when you consider that, in the 1990s and early 2000s when the Liberal Party was last in government, South Australian students were Australia's best performers in literacy.
Obviously, I have been following education quite a lot and following closely the decision to cap enrolments at primary schools, particularly those in the eastern and southern suburbs. On the topic of enrolment capping, the SA Association of School Parent Clubs President, Ms Jenice Zerner, said:

Increased investment across all schools will mean fewer families from outside the area will choose to send their children to eastern schools.

Ms Zerner hit the nail on the head and she was indeed right: if schools across our state were better funded by the state government, we would not see the need for capping of certain areas and caps on certain popular government schools.

Of course, one does wonder why the state government does not choose to invest more wisely. Indeed, you get the feeling they would rather spend money on refurbishing space in the education department for bureaucrats to review schools, costing about $200,000. As the member for Morialta has indeed previously mentioned, this money could have been used to upgrade classrooms in disadvantaged areas. But, no, the government has other priorities. It seems that the bureaucrats in Flinders Street get priority over teachers, other staff and students in our schools. The bureaucrats are heavily tied to the education union, which seems to be pulling all the strings when it comes to our education system.

Education is fundamental to the development and growth of all South Australians. Indeed, it is the best tool to unleash the full potential of the human mind but, unfortunately, South Australian children are being denied this opportunity. They are being let down by a government that, as is so often the case, has no coherent plan for improving a failing system.