Honorable Mark McGowan MLA
Premier of Western Australia
There have been recent news items highlighting the need to improve STEM education in Australian Schools. The Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham wants more students to study science and maths at university and wants to have at least one science or mathematics-trained teacher in every Australian High School. He hoped the move would in turn encourage more high school students to take maths and science classes. "It's not just about knowledge of content," he said. "It's also about ensuring students are inspired to stick with maths, to stick with the sciences, so that they continue right through their schooling years and hopefully into further studies to give us more skilled scientists and more people skilled in the STEM disciplines."
His comments come after a report by Australia's Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, found the number of students choosing to take science had dropped from 55 per cent in 2002 to 51 per cent in 2013.
These are the very issues that the Western Australian Gould League has promoted through its environment and Aboriginal education programs at the Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre for nearly 40 years. The Gould League, for over 80 years, has had the advantage of having outstanding scientists on its management committee and specialist teachers that underpin the award-winning education programs offered at the Wildlife Centre. We also are an integral component of the Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative as well as delivering innovative science experiences in professional learning for high school biology teachers. The provision of the Indigenous Education Program (Ancient Science) provides a key, specialist service for the Department of Education in servicing its State and National Aboriginal education priorities.
The partnership between the Department of Education (DoE) and the WA Gould League, operating from the Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre, is a unique exemplar model of effective out-sourcing of specialist provision by DoE. The WA Gould League demonstrates a model of effective and efficient government spending and provides value for money by leveraging additional sponsorship funding and support from other education stakeholders, such as Catholic Education, The University of Western Australia and Federal grants.
Now that WA’s finances look healthier due to the news that WA is likely to receive a greater share of the GST we urge you, as Premier, to support the WA Gould League and reverse your government's decision to cease funding a teacher and administrative assistant at the Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre. This would allow us to continue to provide award winning science and Aboriginal learning experiences to the WA school community.
Kind regards - Kevin
Professor Kevin F. Kenneally AM
PRESIDENT, WA Gould League Inc
UWA School of Agriculture and Environment M087