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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (30 July) . . Page.. 3096..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

If, in the opinion of the principal, it is desirable in the interests of the college that a boy should not continue any longer as a pupil, he may notify the parents, or either of them, or guardian to that effect and remove the boy's name from the school role and debar him from further attendance.

The Australian Council of State School Organisations goes on to state:

Surely exclusion and marginalisation of the different or difficult is not a traditional value.

I think that defines values really well. When we are measuring values a number of discussions should be held to determine what they are. Would opposition members espouse as a value the expulsion of difficult students from the system? Should those values be about inclusion, tolerance and acceptance and about supporting and providing proper environments for children and young people? It is extremely disappointing that Mr Pratt moved this motion today, as it is an attack on ACT government schools. When Mr Pratt referred earlier to ACT government schools he did not address the alleged lack of teaching of core values in non-government schools.

I reiterate my earlier challenge: If Mr Pratt knows of a school in which he believes that core values are not being taught, let us have that discussion rather than stating that some schools do not teach core values. Let us have a discussion about schools that do not teach values. I do not believe Mr Pratt will be able to find one such school-the issue about which I have been arguing with him for several months. The only part of Mr Pratt's speech with which I agree is the part at the end when he said, "Values are integral to school culture. They are not part of the curriculum; they permeate school life."

When Mr Pratt said that I thought he got that statement out of my speech because that is exactly what I have been saying. We cannot impose the Liberal Party's idea of core values on an education system and state, "That is where you get your values. Learn them and they will be your values." Frankly, I do not agree with many of the Liberal Party's values and I would not want them imposed in the environment that is referred to in this motion.

Values are shared, they are worked through and school communities discover them. Each school community, through its school board and the involvement of parents, teachers and students, determines the school's ethos. When a school conducts a review, it reviews that ethos and it reviews the values that are important to the school community. That is an ongoing and evolving process. Schools place different priorities on particular issues when determining how to bring communities together. We are not talking about imposing in a key learning area what one person believes to be an important set of core values-core values that still remain undefined.

This motion is unfortunate. I await the opposition's media release that will probably state, "The government does not support values education." We will continue this debate in the media-the arena in which we have been having this debate for the past few months. I ask Mr Pratt to find me a school that does not teach values and that does not support its students in an appropriate environment. If he finds such a school we will talk about it and establish what we can do to improve it. I challenge Mr Pratt to find such a school. I do not believe that he will find one.


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