Reading volunteers program for Queensland schools ‘a waste of money’
Annastacia Palaszczuk said the success of the program would be judged on NAPLAN results. (ABC News: Leonie Mellor)
Registering and training parents and grandparents to help with reading in Queensland classrooms is an insult to volunteers, the State Opposition says.
The Palaszczuk Government has reinstated the Ready Reading Program, scrapped six years ago, in a bid to improve NAPLAN results.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said $1.5 million will be spent over three years to train 3,000 volunteers to hear children read in schools.
“We want people who are retired, parents who are perhaps working part-time. We want grandparents to give up a few hours a week to be part of our army of volunteers to come into our Queensland schools and help our children as they prepare for the next stage of their education,” she said.
The program was abolished by the Newman government in 2012.
Opposition education spokesman Jarrod Bleijie said its reinstatement was unnecessary and a slight on parents and grandparents who already helped in classrooms.
“It’s happening already, so this is just a waste of taxpayers’ money. It’s a slap in the face,” he said.
“I didn’t need to go and register, I didn’t need to get training on how to read Bob the Builder to my son in primary school.”
The program will start in terms three and four this year, and require volunteers to hold a blue card.
It will be in addition to programs already run by individual schools, which use parent and community member volunteers.
Volunteers helping in those programs would not need a blue card unless determined by the individual school.
Ms Palaszczuk and Education Minister Grace Grace made the announcement while launching the Premier’s Reading Challenge at Nundah State School this morning.
Ms Palaszczuk said the Government would measure its success by improved NAPLAN results.
“We want to see improvements into those NAPLAN results. Like I said, we’ve seen some improvements in Year 3, we want to see more in Year 5 and Year 7,” she said.
It was just the start of a suite of programs to be rolled out which would see a record education budget again this year, the Premier said.
Ms Grace did not know how many volunteers currently helped with reading in Queensland schools but said the Ready Reading Program would be structured, and open to high schools as well.
Mr Bleijie said the announcement was a smokescreen for the Government’s decision announced today to halt and review the establishment of any more Independent Public Schools.