Simon Birmingham: As a Government, we have a very strong conviction for a lot of the development of our education system, and as part of that ongoing development of our education system, for the choice and the variety for parents and families to select a school that best suits their aspirations and their needs. And the work that Lutheran Education does in Australia to provide a valuable choice that supports families in selecting a school that has values, a curriculum, the outlook, the objectives, and the aspirations for its young people, is something that’s a credit to all who are involved. But it is an important aspect indeed of giving that support for parental choice, for family choice, in the education of young Australians.
It really is essential that we have engaged parents and engaged homes in supporting young people, because although the young people in the audience today may not fully appreciate all that their parents and families do for them, I’m sure most of them do. But the most important attribute for most of your success, for all that you’ll achieve, is indeed the home learning environment. The second most important attribute and aspect is what happens in the school, and particularly the commitment, the quality of your teachers. In that, I congratulate the teaching staff here who are part of the nation-wide network of teachers we have who do achieve outstanding results across Australia.
There is much that we continue to aspire for in our education system, much that we continue to build upon and improve for the future. That does not mean that we should in any way neglect the success that we have in operating an education system across Australia that provides world-class education; has for a long period of time now ensured that Australia enjoys a people and a populous that sustains one of the highest standards of living in the world; one of the largest economies in the world, one of the biggest trading nations in the world, one of the most successful international powers in the world. We are a country with much to be proud of, and that pride and that success of our nation is built upon very much the work, the success of our populous. And of course, the success of our people, the success of all Australians, stems very much from all that they have learned as part of our successful education system.
Importantly and critically, we need to work to ensure that we equip Australians with the skills needed for the modern economy for the future. Ours is an economy in transition, from one that has in recent times driven through a period of mining boom, but in the future needs to confront head-on the type of technological disruption that we face.
The reality that industries and workforce dynamics are changing dramatically; the fact that many of the fastest-growing jobs in the world now will require science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, and as part of that it is important that we invest particularly more in the middle years.
That’s why I want to really celebrate the centre we have here, and the steps that have been taken by Endeavour College and Lutheran Education to put a strong focus on the middle years, to bring year sevens into this college, to really lead in South Australia in doing that. [Indistinct]. And at that particularly critical stage of education it is important to have access to specialist teachers. It is critical to have access to the best facilities that facilitate and enable students to be learning the national curriculum, tailored as it is in South Australia and in local schools, across areas of science and mathematics, as well as languages, as well as all of those areas that will be very important to Australia’s success in adapting to the modern economy.
So by undertaking this act of leadership in transitioning year sevens into Endeavour College, by investing in the middle school years, you are setting in place a great example that will better help, I hope in time, others to follow, and others to ensure that across our education system we are providing that springboard from primary school into senior secondary that the middle years is so important to achieve.
So my congratulations to all who have been involved in this project, from those who backed the concept, to the students and others who helped build upon that concept, to the architects who designed and the builders who constructed, of course, and to the financiers within the Lutheran Church, in the school community, and yes I’m pleased, from the Australian Government. Well done to all. I trust this will be an incredibly successful place of learning, of accomplishment, and of building skills that move from the foundation of primary years into the specialisation and integrated achievement of senior secondary years. So good luck to all of those of you who will be passing through here now and into the future; I wish you all every success in accomplishing all that you’ve dreamed of. Thanks so very much.