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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 8 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2838..


MR BARR (continuing):

This ACT government is getting on with the job of improving our schools. Last week I announced the release of a new school improvement framework for ACT public schools. This framework reflects our push for accountability and transparency in education. Firstly, the new framework requires ACT public schools to publish their school plans on their websites from 2010. I can advise the Assembly that many plans are already publicly available.

Secondly, ACT public schools will undergo a four-year continuous cycle of review and improvement. This will include providing better information to parents and families, and assessment by independent panels. As part of this review cycle, each school will develop a comprehensive four-year school plan and an annual operating plan. Schools will check their own progress against their plan each year and report the outcomes to parents, students and the broader school community through their annual school board report.

This will ensure that everyone knows the educational goals and the direction of the school and how that school is tracking. Schools will be evaluated by an external and independent expert panel. That panel will occur in the fourth year of the framework and they will then receive a report on their achievements. In a cycle of continuous improvement, the external report will inform the school of areas for further improvement.

Madam Assistant Speaker, every school's final report will be publicly available. Why are we doing this? It is because we can always do better. We are delivering better schools and better futures for ACT students. The framework will make sure that schools monitor and improve their performance in the areas of learning and teaching, leading and managing the student environment and community involvement.

Our plan to further improve schooling over the next four years builds on the government's drive to improve what, where and how in learning. We are working with the commonwealth government to develop a new national curriculum. We will build over half a billion dollars worth of new classrooms, libraries, gymnasiums and other school improvements in all ACT schools. We are committed to paying the best teachers six-figure salaries. There will be greater accountability and transparency for all of our schools.

The real question in this debate though, Madam Assistant Speaker, is: what do parents want? That is a question that all opposition parties have to ask themselves. The Liberals have declared no position in this debate. They are essentially irrelevant. Their only stance, as usual, is opposition for opposition's sake.

The Greens party, however, is in a different category. I am concerned, though, at some of the contradictions in their arguments. Across the board, the Greens have been demanding greater public accountability of government, even on matters of school closures. Yet they demand stronger limits on accountability for schools. Ms Bresnan, the chair of the committee, pressed me on this in a recent committee hearing. She literally asked a question and then warned me against giving her an answer. The trancript read in part like this:


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