Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 5 Hansard (29 May) . . Page.. 1109..
MR BARR (continuing):
Due to initiatives of previous governments—I acknowledge the work of Mr Stefaniak in this area—there is a mandated time within the ACT curriculum for physical activity. The issues and the concerns that I have are that, whilst the time limits are being complied with, the quality of the physical education that is occurring can be improved. There are a variety of factors for this.
There is increasing pressure, particularly on primary school teachers, to fit a wide variety of topics into the school curriculum. There is a lack of specialist physical education teachers in our primary schools. One of the key reasons for this is that a lot of our primary schools were too small to have a specialist physical education teacher attached to them. Some of those issues have been addressed by the reform process in education. But it is important that we are able to focus our recruitment efforts into the future on recruiting further high-quality physical education experts into our schools. We need to look at cluster arrangements where our smaller schools are able to share physical education resources across a network of schools.
It is also important that the government invest in infrastructure. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to open, in the presence of the members for Brindabella, Ms MacDonald and Mr Gentleman, the new $3 million gymnasium at Melrose high school. I know my two predecessors in the education portfolio, Mr Corbell and Ms Gallagher, played an instrumental part in getting that facility delivered. It is important that those sorts of facilities are available in public schools across the city. It is a key part of my direction, using the capital money that is available as a result of the difficult decisions that were made last year in terms of restructuring our education system, to invest that money in quality physical education facilities for our schools.
There are now only two high schools in the ACT that do not have a dedicated gymnasium facility: Belconnen high and Stromlo high. I intend to address that issue to ensure that every public school in the ACT has a gymnasium. As we face a range of ongoing pressures through the drought and water restrictions, it is even more important that we are investing in indoor sporting facilities so that, should the worst circumstance arise, we will still have quality sporting facilities to enable students in the ACT to undertake quality physical education programs. That is a key commitment from the government.
All of the research in the UK, all of the work that has been done by Sue Campbell, Steve Grainger and their team, has shown that, where the quality of physical education has been improved, all of the other indicators—the literacy outcomes, the numeracy outcomes, the issues about behaviour, about how students are able to improve their self-esteem—have improved dramatically in the UK as a result of some targeted investment in programs that have been effective in delivering outcomes, and the government supports this. (Time expired.)
Mr Stanhope: I ask that all further questions be placed on the notice paper.
Paper and statement by member
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella): Mr Speaker, during question time, Mr Seselja quoted from a document. I seek leave of the Assembly to request, under