One of the great challenges for leaders of the department is to deliver on the operational needs of our schools today, while undertaking the necessary planning for tomorrow.
Operating a school system of this size, with nearly 800,000 students learning in classrooms each day, led by qualified and trained teachers in appropriate facilities, is a massive logistical exercise. At the same time we need to be constantly looking ahead.
There are a myriad of challenges we need to consider, from the kinds of skills young people will need to flourish on leaving school, to how we will continue to attract and retain the best teachers in the future, and how we think about investing in appropriate technology for schools and the department.
One pressing challenge is the increased demand we are going to face for school facilities given increases in the school-age population. We are expecting a dramatic increase in enrolments by 2031, when we expect more than 160,000 additional students in government schools.
This will result in the biggest school building program we have ever undertaken with dozens of new schools and extensive redevelopments of many existing schools. We don't just want to think of more accommodation, but how we can support modern pedagogy, provide sufficient play space, and incorporate sustainable design principles.
I know some of our schools are seeing signs already of this population increase. Later in the term, more details will be released of the infrastructure investment for schools and how we are responding to this issue.