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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (6 December) . . Page.. 2730..


MR SPEAKER: It is the last question on the notice paper.

Mrs Carnell: It asks to explain what it is. I did not do that.

Mr Berry: Will you rule on it?

MR SPEAKER: I cannot very well rule on it; even if it is on the notice paper, as the Chief Minister has completed her answer, there is not much point in ruling on it. No doubt you will answer the question properly, Chief Minister.

Secondary Colleges - Class Sizes

MR MOORE: My question is directed to Mr Stefaniak, the Minister for Education and Training. If I can digress for a minute, Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to the precedent set by the word "nose" being ruled out of order in this Assembly exactly a year ago today. That referred to itchy noses, you will recall. I draw that to your attention in case we hear the Minister again crying, "Who knows?", in which case we will have to assess whether or not that precedent should be taken into account.

One of the reasons given by Mr Stefaniak's Government for slashing teacher positions from colleges rather than from the 90-plus teacher positions in the central office was the high percentage of small class sizes at colleges. A letter to the editor recently revealed that such classes are often in sport or languages and are actually taught in tandem. Although classes appear to have eight or 10 students, there may be 18 students in the classroom at any given time. For example, in Japanese, there may be a class doing accredited Japanese, another class doing tertiary Japanese and another class doing introductory Japanese. They are all put together. My question to the Minister is: Have you investigated how many such classes exist at colleges; or will you simply persist, in ignorance, in pushing for this cut to college teachers?

MR STEFANIAK: Mr Moore is well aware of two Auditor-General's reports in relation to the college system. He is well aware, too, of exactly what this Government is proposing in its budget. He is well aware of what the August Auditor-General's report was proposing, which actually suggested some $3m could be found in terms of relocating resources away from colleges. In terms of any relocation, the budget's highlighting of $1.2m is not anything like what the Auditor-General has proposed. However, as has been said by my colleagues and me on a number of occasions, the Government simply cannot ignore the Auditor-General's report. It cannot ignore the previous Auditor-General's report. The previous Government indicated that it would be wrong to ignore the Auditor-General's report. They were in government then, and their attitude has changed.

The number of students in many secondary college classes is quite low. For example, in one college 19 per cent of classes have fewer than 10 students, 46 per cent of classes have fewer than 15, and 73 per cent of classes have fewer than 20. Almost three-quarters of the students are in classes of fewer than 20. As Mr Moore well knows, there is also a relatively large number of courses in government secondary colleges compared to a much smaller range of courses offered by non-government schools. I think that these facts are well known by Mr Moore.


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