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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (30 July) . . Page.. 3088..


MR PRATT (continuing):

suspended. However, no students were expelled in that three-year period. The number of ACT government school students suspended to 31 March 2004 is 346.

As at the February 2004 census, 882 indigenous students were enrolled in government schools. Of those students 541 were in primary schools, 230 were in high schools and 95 were in colleges. Of the 49 indigenous students who enrolled in an ACT government high school in year 10 in August 2003, 38.8 per cent were not enrolled in an ACT government college in February 2004. That could mean that they moved away, that they did not go on to year 11, or that they enrolled at a non-government school. Regardless of the reason, that figure of 38 per cent is a worrying figure.

Of the 56 indigenous students who enrolled in year 11 in an ACT government college in August 2003, 19.6 per cent were not enrolled in an ACT government college in February 2004. Again that could mean that some of them moved away, that they simply did not go on to year 12, or that they enrolled in a non-government school. Of the 52 indigenous students who enrolled in an ACT government college in year 12 in February 2003, 76.9 per cent were still enrolled in August 2003. That equals a loss of 23.1 per cent of students throughout year 12.

Ninety indigenous students were suspended in 2002 and 109 were suspended in 2003. Working on current figures for indigenous enrolments, assuming that they were similar for past years, that means that approximately 10.2 per cent of indigenous students, including those at primary schools, were suspended in 2002 and 12.3 per cent were suspended in 2003. The next group of statistics to which I wish to refer are those presented by the ACT Parents and Citizens Association in its February 2004 report to the government entitled "Improving Outcomes for Young People."

Only 57 per cent of high school students felt safe at schools compared to 79 per cent of primary schoolchildren who said that they felt safe. Over 40 per cent of high school students reported that they were not receiving satisfactory assistance to deal with harassment. According to the ACT Parents and Citizens Association, 30 per cent of students enrolled in year 11 in 2002-a figure that I find mind-boggling and about which I wanted to ask a question of the minister today-failed to achieve a year 12 certificate. These statistics are sending out a mixed bag of signals.

Clearly, some successes have been achieved in turning around deteriorating trends, but there are a number of signs that school environments-this is not reflective of all schools and it occurs mainly in the early high school years-are not the happy or gripping learning and teaching environments that they should be or that perhaps they once were. That is due to a range of new pressures over which the government has no control. We have talked about stress and casualties among our students, but we must be concerned also about the stress suffered by teachers.

The feedback that I have been getting and about which I am concerned is that too many teachers are worn out and they are disgruntled with the current education system. They are tired of being police officers, social workers, pseudo parents and drug and alcohol counsellors. They are tired of the confrontational environment with which they are faced in the current education system. The environment in which they are expected to perform disgruntles many young teachers who have put their hearts and souls into teaching.


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