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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 9 Hansard (13 August) . .

Page.. 2860..


Schools—agreements

MS FITZHARRIS: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. Minister, last week you announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the ACT government, Catholic Education Canberra and Goulburn and the Association of Independent Schools. I understand that this is the first time that such an agreement has been made in the ACT. Can you detail to the Assembly what this MOU will do and why it is important for ensuring the quality of all ACT schools.

MADAM SPEAKER: Could you just repeat the last part of that question? I did not hear it.

MS FITZHARRIS: Can you detail to the Assembly what this MOU will do and why it is important for ensuring the quality of all ACT schools?

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Fitzharris for her question. Indeed, the signing of the MOU is the first time these agreements have been reached in the ACT with government public schools, independent schools and Catholic schools. Indeed, when the three school sectors came together with such an agreement, to use the words out of the independent and Catholic school leaders that were there, it was a momentous occasion.

The agreement represents an important shift in how education is approached in the ACT. The MOUs will provide greater assurance to students, parents and the ACT community about the high standards of our schools. The MOUs align compliance and incident reporting across all three school sectors—public, independent and Catholic systems.

It is regularly said by all sides in this place that the ACT has the best education system in the country. This is supported time and time again by the data that we see. However, there is always a need to make sure we make our system better. There are ways we can provide greater assurances to the students, parents and families that make up our school communities that their school is safe and welcoming and has processes and practices that are supportive. This is what the MOUs and related change to the school registration manual will achieve.

Under the new MOUs, for the first time the ACT non-government schools will report their critical incidents to me as minister for education. This agreement across all sectors also provides a consistent and agreed definition of critical incidents and provides for school principals to confirm each year that they comply with all relevant legislative requirements.

I am not saying, and do not want to suggest, that schools have high levels of incidents; that is simply not the case. However, what these MOUs make clear is that all schools in the ACT have clear processes to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their students and assure me, as the minister responsible for all schools, that our schools are safe learning environments.

The signing of the MOUs across all sectors has come together and recognises that the similarities between schools outweigh many of the differences. I know that we have


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