More than 1.1 million school students in NSW will soon benefit from an historic $5 billion deal between the NSW Government and the Commonwealth.

With the Commonwealth, I have agreed to implement the National Education Reform Agreement – the so-called Gonski plan – setting in motion the biggest change to school education in Australia for 40 years.

This Agreement means that there will be more resources, a fairer distribution, higher teaching standards and a better education for every child in NSW.

My Government is making school education a priority. We will find the $1.7 billion needed to fund this much needed reform. The federal Government is contributing close to $3.3 billion.

The Agreement will build on recent Federal and NSW reforms, incorporating the National Plan for School Improvement to achieve, among other things:

Stronger requirements for entry to teaching courses at university;
Higher teaching standards and annual teacher performance appraisals;
Giving principals greater power in selecting staff; and
A priority on reading instruction for children in kindergarten to Year 2.

I am particularly excited about the fact that the Agreement will allow for a greater provision of Asian language classes across all year levels.

There has been much discussion about the strategic importance of Australia’s relationship with Asia – with the Commonwealth’s Asian Century Whitepaper an example of this.

Governments must do more than just talk about our relationship with Asia. Government must actively engage and work in meaningful partnership with other countries and cultures to ensure meaningful exchange is created.

There are a number of ways this can be done – through cultural as well as economic and educational links. My trips to India and China in the two years I have been Premier, and committing to return every year of my tenure, demonstrates not just respect and stability in our relationships, but a real commitment to sustain long term and fruitful links.

The NSW Government has already begun assisting International students with travel concessions; established the Multicultural Business Advisory Panel to leverage one of our states strongest assets – multiculturalism – and promotes investment in NSW through our Waratah Bonds in exchange for Significant Investor Visas.
The greatest resources in our state are not the minerals below the ground; they are the diamonds that walk above it. If we are genuine about engagement with Asia, education must be part of the mix to ensure a strong multicultural society.

That is why I’m pleased that NSW is adopting the Gonski education reforms. As part of the Agreement, more funds will be made available for Asian languages to be taught.

It will also set the benchmark for other states and will drive the reforms we need to move Australia into the top five in the world in reading, maths and science by 2025.

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