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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 22 September 2005) . . Page.. 3540 ..


and the purpose of the debate. While it is no surprise, it is a great shame that there is such closed-mindedness amongst those people on the government benches about the decision that they have made.

I have expressed a great many reservations about large schools. Ms Porter says it is a four-campus school on the one site. If it were a four-campus school it would have four principals, a different ethos for each and four separate sets of curriculum and approaches. The school within the school model, as I have said in this place on a number of occasions, is a reasonable way of dealing with declining enrolments and things like this. But this is not a schools within schools model; this is like the Amaroo school. It has one principal; it has one ethos; it is a large school.

Dr Foskey is right. As she has rightly pointed out, the physical set-up of Amaroo school is very pleasant, in a fairly modern way. It is quite a pleasant school. The education committee—Mr Gentleman, Ms Porter and I—have visited the school. Without a doubt, it is a very pleasant school in its physical structure. But we do not know whether or not it is a great success because it is a school that has operated for 18 months; it is not a fully subscribed school; there is no year 9 or year 10; and there will not be a year 10 for another year. We will not know whether that school and that model are a success unless there is a full cohort of children going through it. Then we might start to get some answers.

The government spends its time casting around for other models that are a bit like it. There are other models that are a bit like it in the ACT. We look at Telopea. Telopea in many ways is a selective school. We look at Wanniassa. Wanniassa has a number of campuses. We look at Gold Creek. Gold Creek has two campuses. They are not side by side; there is quite a deal of separation between the two campuses. There is, as yet, no model for Amaroo. Amaroo breaks the mould. Amaroo may be a startling success. It certainly has a good foundation. We just do not know.

When Mr Gentleman, Ms Porter and I were in South Australia the other day we heard about one South Australian school’s attempts at creating, in their case, a reception to year 12 school. They had a high school that was in decline and turned it into a reception to year 12 school to try to build it up. By the descriptions of the officials of the problems that they were confronting in that school, it was an unmitigated disaster.

So the big amalgamation may not be a success. There may be a whole lot of things that are different between Ginninderra district high school and its proposed new school and the William Light school in South Australia, but the description given to us by officials in another context was that this was the classic model being recapitulated. I inquired about it at great length afterwards. It is very much like the model that we are looking at here but it was an unmitigated disaster in many ways. The school body is attempting to turn that around. But we have no model that we are hanging our hat on.

The Chief Minister said he was never going to trust me; so trust was not an issue. When will the Chief Minister get it into his head it is not about me and it is not about him? He will not trust me because I am a member of the Liberal Party. That is ground into him. It is not about me; it is about trusting the electorate, going to the electorate and saying, “We have a problem. How can we, as a community, sort it out?”


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