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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 5 Hansard (23 August) . . Page.. 1356..


Student Assessment

MR WHITECROSS: Mr Speaker, my question is addressed to the Minister for Education, Mr Stefaniak. It relates to your interference in the assessment of one Year 12 student. Can the Minister explain why the normal procedures were not followed? Can the Minister confirm that he suggested or directed that reassessment processes be videotaped? Is it true that the only reason why that process is not now to be followed is that teachers rejected that suggestion or direction by you? Is it true that you suggested or directed that a solicitor sit in at the Board of Senior Secondary Studies? Is it true that you nominated a specific solicitor, and why did you do that?

MR STEFANIAK: There are about 18 questions in one there. Mr Whitecross, first in relation to the solicitor, because of a matter like this arising it was sensible, I think, for the department and the board to consider using perhaps some legal assistance not necessarily only in a case like this but in any future cases. In relation to any interference or any involvement by me in this, I would say to you, Mr Whitecross, that I have a duty to ensure a fair and reasonable outcome for every student in the system. To say that I interfered, and wrongfully interfered, in this is quite wrong and I take strong objection to it. Any involvement by me in relation to this situation was in consultation with my department and as a result of discussions with, and advice from, them to ensure a fair and reasonable outcome. Because cases are different and you do sometimes get exceptional circumstances, sometimes certain things flow from that, and any actions that flowed from that were taken by me, as a result of advice, and by the department to ensure a fair and reasonable outcome.

MR WHITECROSS: I ask a supplementary question. I ask the Minister to answer some of my questions which he has not answered. Did you suggest or request that reassessment processes be videotaped, and is it true that the only reason that that has not occurred is that the teachers rejected that suggestion or direction from you? Is it true that you nominated a specific solicitor to sit in at the Board of Senior Secondary Studies during those reassessment processes? Why did you nominate this particular solicitor, and who was the solicitor meant to be representing - the student or the Board of Senior Secondary Studies?

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Whitecross, in relation to this matter and to any future procedures I would envisage, as I said earlier, any solicitor who would go on the Board of Senior Secondary Studies would be there to assist the Board of Senior Secondary Studies. I think perhaps as a result of incidents such as this there is a very strong case for that to happen, and that is why the department has for some time been looking at how the Board of Senior Secondary Studies operates. I as Minister, the department and the chief executive officer all have a duty to ensure a fair and reasonable outcome for this student and for every other student in the system.

Mrs Carnell: I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.


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