Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 8 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 2556..
Motion (by Mr Corbell ) proposed:
That the Assembly do now adjourn.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (12.20 am): Freedom of information is a useful device. I know that the department of education and the minister for education are extremely concerned by it. My last little freedom of information foray into the department of education revealed a treasure trove of information through the fact sheets that the minister and his officials took to the last Select Committee on Estimates. Hidden away amongst all these things are some great gems, one of which I would like to share with members tonight.
I refer to A to E reporting. Mr Speaker, you might recall that a couple of years ago A to E reporting was imposed in a draconian way by that terrible government on the hill, which is always bemoaned by Labor states. A cavalcade of people came out and said what a dreadful thing A to E reporting would be. Members would be interested to know that recently the department consulted with stakeholders on the new reporting arrangements and parents were asked to complete a survey from a sample of primary schools and high schools at the end of 2006.
Earlier this year the principals and teachers in focus groups discussed the key issues raised by the parents. The key findings from this consultation process were that, in general, parents valued receiving the hard evidence of their children's progress of an A to E grade along with comparative class information. Eight in 10 parents indicated that they thought A to E reporting provided useful information. Parents also valued the other information on school reports about their children's strengths, areas of development, strategies for improvement and the social development and work habits of their children.
For teachers and principals there was a fairly positive response to the new reporting format, though this did vary. High school teachers were more positive than primary school teachers, the main reason being that they have been reporting in this format for some time. For all teachers the greatest benefit from the A to E reporting process was the professional community within the school, as teachers discussed the awarding of A to E grades. Most schools and teachers saw a problem, that is, an increased workload.
We found hidden away in the estimates fact sheets that despite those who said nay and despite all those who said, "This is the end of civilisation as we know it,"A to E reporting, which was insisted on quite strongly by Dr Brendan Nelson, the previous Minister for Education, was a winner with parents. This is what parents wanted. All the carrying on by education bureaucracy and commentators has been shown to have no value because the people who are benefiting from this are the parents—the people who are making the primary education decisions about their children's educational future. They are learning something from it and they value it.