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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (30 March) . . Page.. 1264..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

problems with the scope and content of this bill, it makes sense to be cautious with any amendments proposed, so I am not inclined to support many of the amendments that Mr Pratt will be proposing as several of them, if implemented, would cast teacher responsibility in a new light, while others would essentially set curriculum, which I would argue is outside the scope of this bill. I will put more detailed arguments as the amendments are debated.

Some issues have been raised over the past couple of weeks that do warrant a closer focus, one of which is the general area of teacher qualification, appraisal, professional development and support. While I am aware that the conditions of employment for teachers in government schools require them to be professionally qualified, there is no such requirement for teachers at non-government schools, so I would be interested in looking at similar requirements for all schools.

I do think that it would make sense to look at what kind of support teachers should be able to expect from the school or system that employs them and how we can be sure that we keep and develop our best teachers and lose the worst ones, but I do not think that adding a clause saying that everyone has to do professional development is an answer to anything. That is a new project that would require extensive consultation with teachers themselves, with the school systems and with educationalists. I do not think that it is something that we can tack onto this bill. It is a project that government could take on now, with perhaps a report and an implementation plan next year.

Another equally important matter with a similar scope and probably needing a similar timeframe is teaching itself. The discussion of pedagogy-the art or profession of teaching-is coming back into fashion. It seems to me that, having had the Connors report to look at funding issues primarily concerned with school funding, it is time to invest in the ideas of teaching.

If there is to be a new executive for the education department, which is a possibility, or perhaps a relaunch for the existing leadership, I would suggest that we need to use the event as an opportunity to make a renewed commitment to high quality, innovative and creative teaching practice. That way, particularly in the government school sector, we would be sending a message that we do value and appreciate teaching and that the best teachers could look to a successful and satisfying career in the ACT. I think that is an important signal we need to send.

I am of the view that this bill delivers a good outcome for the people of the ACT, particularly the young people of the ACT. I would like to acknowledge that the project has involved a lot of work from officers of the department and from teacher, parent and school bodies of all hues.

MR STEFANIAK (12.03): I think there are probably a few members who will want to speak on this important piece of legislation. There are a number of amendments that Mr Pratt will be moving later on but, as he indicated, the opposition is supporting this bill. I was just trying to think exactly when the process started to get this bill to this stage, because it is a revamp of a bill which I think I introduced in the last Assembly. I think that process started probably in about 1999.

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