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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 5 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1535..

Public Education Week

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (6.44): Next week, or, more correctly, for five days next week, from Monday, 19 May to Friday, 23 May, the ACT will be celebrating Public Education Week. Here in the ACT there is much to be proud of and to celebrate.

I have been fortunate to have visited many of Canberra's public schools over my time in the Assembly. I choose schools at random and not just those that are better known for one reason or another, and I can confidently say that at each and every one of them I discover something that is new, exciting and a great example of education at its best.

I thank Marc Emerson in the education minister's office for facilitating these visits. I think it is important that as shadow minister I do get an opportunity to see our schools and to meet the staff that do so much to make our schools as good as they are.

I have seen some great innovations over the years I have been doing this. Let me highlight just two. One is the introduction of the Stephanie Alexander garden program. I note an article in the current ACT AEU magazine by a teacher at Namadgi School who runs the Stephanie Alexander garden program for years 3, 4 and 5 at Namadgi and suggests it will probably be his teaching career highlight because of the many benefits it has brought to the educational outcomes of his students.

Another relatively new direction is the decision by some primary schools to offer the baccalaureate program. Speaking with students and teachers, it is very much enjoyed by those who choose to engage in this. And it will be interesting to see whether they continue that stream into their high school years. The availability of the IB program, together with the wide choice of languages now available at all schools, bodes well for ACT students being well prepared for tertiary studies.

I note there are a number of functions associated with public school week, and I also note it seems to be around the time that schools hold open days and information nights. I would encourage parents to take this opportunity to get to know what school choices are out there.

Unlike some, I do not believe there should be competition between the government and non-government sectors, other than all schools wanting to offer the best of education for their students. I find it less than helpful when comments from education professionals continue to fuel almost class warfare amongst school systems.

My attention was drawn to an article by an education researcher who won the 2013 AEU ACT friend of public education award. In this article she suggested that there is an increasing concentration of low income, hard-to-teach students in the government sector which was, in part, driven by middle-class parents sending their children to non-government schools because that was seen as good parenting. This sort of commentary just helps to feed the social paranoia that some have about the status of school systems and the social reasons believed to be behind the choices parents make. Parents should not be made to feel guilty about where they choose to send their child,

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