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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (25 August) . . Page.. 4126..


MS TUCKER (continuing):

unattainable literacy and numeracy targets. He also tells us that in America, under the George Bush-inspired No Child Left Behind Act, schools that have not been seen to deliver on national curricula expectations have been closed and school heads removed.

We do not want to see a situation in the ACT where we have the success or otherwise of schools determined solely by the dehumanising results of literacy and numeracy league tables. For indigenous kids in particular, but for other territory kids as well, it is important that we do not move towards a system that emphasises a standard type of education delivery. We should be emphasising in the ACT a more inclusive type of schooling that facilitates collaboration between schools and the local communities they serve.

There are real advantages in permitting individual responses to kids and their communities. What we do not want to see is a standardised system that locks up resources in standardised schools, leaving no room for the individual approaches and innovations that benefit kids.

I am not arguing that reporting on literacy and numeracy is not important to young people's outcomes, but a focus on testing and reporting of quantitative measures alone can work against kids acquiring and enjoying confidence in developing other equally important life skills. It can also narrow the focus of school experience when, more than ever, it needs to be a broad one that encourages autonomous learning.

That is why the national testing regime is potentially a useful tool but it should be just one of several analytical tools. Tools for analysing kids' performance should be based on both qualitative and quantitative measures-measures that assess kids' academic "performance" as well as their satisfaction and that of their families and guardians with their development into self-assured and valued individuals.

MS MacDONALD (11.46), in reply: At the outset I would like to thank all members who have participated in the discussion, and I especially thank them for their support of this motion.

I will start with Mr Pratt. Like the minister, I appreciate that Mr Pratt is supporting this motion. He made the point that the results for numeracy were down and that we could always do more. That point was made in various ways in all the speeches that we have heard today. I could not agree more with the point that we can always do more. We always have to strive to keep our levels up. It is vital that we keep the building blocks to ensure that students coming out of primary schools, high schools and colleges are able not just to read and write but also to build on those skills. As I said, those building blocks are the basis for building our society.

I will pick up on one point that Mr Pratt made-and he has said this before. He said at the end of his speech that it is important that we address the value side of education. He talked about mentoring. I would just caution Mr Pratt that he needs to keep in mind that all schools have values, that all teachers put out values, and that we already have values in education. They may be different from the values that he espouses, but the values are already there.


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