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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 1 Hansard (11 February) . . Page.. 275..


MR BARR (continuing):

An ability to suspend for up to 10 days will not only cut red tape and allow principals to focus on their schools; it will also give principals the time to plan the suspended student's re-entry into the school. It communicates to students the seriousness of their actions and it prompts reflection on behaviour. It will, overall, make our schools safer.

But with increased autonomy comes increased responsibility. Every student matters, and outside the family home education is the most influential factor on a child's development and it is the most influential factor on their expectations and career prospects. The government is committed to all young people learning or earning, and that is why we have started a unique pilot program.

The student suspension team pilot commenced at the beginning of term 1 this year in the Melba cluster of schools. This suspension support team pilot is an innovative reform. The objectives of the pilot are to effectively support students who are suspended, to provide a timely intervention that engages the student, the school and the family and assists them to plan for educational success, and to reduce the frequency of suspension in ACT public schools. The team is comprised of a psychologist, a social worker and a student management consultant, who will work with families, schools and students who have been suspended.

This proactive and preventative pilot will use a common assessment tool to assess student and family risk. It will provide students and their families with the opportunity to be heard by people outside of the school and it will promote community engagement and build close relationships with community services and non-government organisations. This team will help principals to plan re-entry and re-engagement of the suspended student into the school environment.

The pilot will also assist our implementation of the learn or earn legislation. It will be evaluated at the end of this year. It is a unique ACT model which will provide much-needed data and evidence about the operation, causes and nature of school suspensions. We will, of course, share our learning with the Catholic and independent education sectors. There has already been interest from other Australian jurisdictions in this innovative trial. And principals, staff and teachers are already enthusiastically thinking about how this model could become more proactive and more effective in the long term.

I think everyone in this place agrees that we must make sure our schools are safe learning environments. Of course, I have said many times before that violence will only stop in our schools when it stops in our community. But we must not tolerate violence, bullying or harassment in our schools, just as we should not tolerate it in our community. This bill is one step to make our schools safer and to give our principals more flexibility. I commend it to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Doszpot) adjourned to the next sitting.

Legislative Assembly—broadcasting guidelines

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (10:26): I move:


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