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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 May 1995) . . Page.. 402 ..

MR STEFANIAK: A small unit is being established within the department to undertake this development work. This unit will be headed by a school principal. This unit will also identify and address all issues which impact on new arrangements, such as training for school staff and management information systems. I expect the unit's planning work to be largely complete by the end of this year. I want to emphasise that we have no preconceived notions about what a self-managed school arrangement should be.

The ACT already has a fairly developed system, with principals and school boards having a wide range of decision-making powers about such things as curriculum development, assessment and a range of resource allocation issues. What is important is that the arrangements developed for the ACT support the strong tradition of community involvement, that they provide increased flexibility for school communities to improve outcomes for students, and that they enhance effectiveness, efficiency and accountability. In short, we want self-managing schools which reflect the particular needs of the ACT school environment.

Mr Berry: What about per capita funding?

MR STEFANIAK: I think the record has broken. Directions to enhance self-management are a sign of our confidence in the professionalism of our teachers and the essential role of parents and communities in our schools. It is timely now, at the halfway point of this decade, to spend a bit of time thinking about the longer term. We need to be satisfied that new arrangements for self-managing schools will suit our needs, not just for the present but for the future.

Another major objective will be to enhance English literacy and numeracy, with particular emphasis on the early years of schooling. Problems experienced by children must be tackled in the early years and not left to progressively worsen. The Government intends to introduce an ongoing system of monitoring and reporting on students' achievements in literacy and numeracy. The nationally developed English and mathematics profiles are currently being examined as a basis for achieving this. Teachers have always been involved in assessing students' progress. The Government would wish this to continue. We will be examining ways of providing a consistent approach that continues our use of teacher-based assessment.

The ACT Government is represented on a working group established by the Council of Australian Governments. This working group is examining ways to validate teacher judgment through an external moderation process. We will be working with other States and Territories to develop more consistent approaches to reporting students' outcomes, particularly literacy and numeracy. This is an important development for the ACT. The task of improving schools will be made easier if students, teachers and parents have a clearer picture of how students are performing. To achieve this we have to explain what students have learnt and achieved, and what they need to learn and achieve. A more systematic and consistent approach to monitoring student progress will also bring the ACT into line with developments occurring throughout Australia. This will enable us to build upon the solid work that has occurred both nationally and in the ACT over the last four years.

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