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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 3 Hansard (3 April) . . Page.. 953..


MR BARR (continuing):

aware that changing year level provisions at an education facility is open to the minister for education at any time.

This government believes in consultation and transparency. It believes in an open process. As part of our six months of consultation—particularly paying heed to the feedback of the Canberra Preschool Society, amongst other key stakeholders in the early childhood education sector—we determined that we needed additional early childhood education provision in the ACT. In complementing the existing O'Connor cooperative school, which offers a P-2 education environment, we determined that we would expand that model to include Southern Cross—amongst three other additional—to make a network of five early childhood schools.

In undertaking that change and to bring in new services—these early childhood schools will provide a one-stop shop for children from birth to eight years of age in terms of a range of family services and early childhood services, as well as a preschool to Year 2 education facility—some renovation work will be required. As I have indicated to the Assembly, I think on about six occasions this week, that work will be undertaken in the main during school holiday periods and outside the school hours.

But just so that the assembled opposition, in all of their glory, in all of their catcalls, are satisfied, I can absolutely guarantee that Southern Cross, along with all of the other schools that will become early childhood schools in 2009, will continue their full education program till the end of this year. The work that is necessary will be undertaken not only during the Christmas holiday period but also during the other school holiday periods as well as out of school hours. However, it is possible that some painting may occur during school time.

Given—as I have indicated in this place before—that the number of students occupying these building is well below the capacity of the buildings, it is entirely possible to undertake the vast majority of this work in areas of the school not used at all by the existing student population. That is most particularly the case at Isabella Plains. It is also the case across all of the campuses.

That is a reflection of the fact that the demographics in those areas have changed since those schools were first built. Most of those schools accommodated six to 700, sometimes even up to 800 students, at their peak. They are now accommodating between about 80 and 170 students. There is massive excess capacity. We can undertake the necessary work and not disrupt educational activities at the school.

To answer Mr Stefaniak's question again: yes, I can very confidently say that all of those schools will continue their full education program; they will not be closing early for renovations; and the renovation work required will be undertaken during school holidays and outside school hours.

Schools—closures

MRS BURKE: My question, through you, Mr Speaker, is to the Minister for Education and Training, this time concerning Narrabundah primary school. In December 2006, you announced that Narrabundah primary school would cease to


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