Page 2022 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 28 June 2023

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Bill, as a whole, as amended, agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Sitting suspended from 11.44 am to 2 pm.

Questions without notice

Early childhood education—Whitlam school

MR HANSON: My question is to the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs. I refer to reports that the Whitlam school is set to be delayed, with residents reported to be “deeply disappointed”. Minister, what impact will this delay have on students and parents who were relying on this school to open?

MS BERRY: Unfortunately, the Whitlam school has been delayed. Like many of our infrastructure projects in general across the ACT, there have been delays, primarily caused by COVID but also construction work and supply. Unfortunately, our schools have also been impacted by that, as the Whitlam school has. There is capacity in schools in the Molonglo area for students to be able to attend. I know it is not ideal for residents of Whitlam, and we will keep the community informed about how that school progresses. I understand it is not ideal for the school not to have been built in the time we would have hoped, but the issues around the construction of that school are out of our control at this point in time.

MR HANSON: What impact will this have on other schools across the system? Will that require further demountables at those schools?

MS BERRY: No, it will not cause any problems and it will not result in more demountables at schools in the Molonglo area. I believe that there is capacity in the short term for students to attend schools in that area while the Whitlam school is being constructed.

MR COCKS: Minister, are there enough classrooms and teachers in our system to cope with demand?

MS BERRY: Thank you, Mr Cocks. As you will know, there is a challenge right now across the country, and the ACT is experiencing that as well with regard to teacher recruitment and retention. The ACT has just finalised an enterprise agreement with teachers in our ACT public schools which provides the highest pay in the country, as well as the best conditions, in my view, for retaining teachers in the ACT. The other issue that teachers raised with me is around conditions at work and workload. We work very closely with the Education Union to ensure that we address those issues with people who are working on the ground to ensure that we can retain the very best teachers in our system and at the highest pay.

Nationally, we are also working on a taskforce plan around retention of the teachers across the city. We were the first, in the ACT, to develop our own taskforce to work through these issues and we will continue to do that, working very closely.

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