Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (15 August) . . Page.. 2143..
MR PRATT (continuing):
21 December 2006, what arrangements are being developed to ensure that all affected students, teachers and families are told of the consequences of these closures so that they can make considered decisions for the 2007 school year?
MR BARR: If I can correct the first part of Mr Pratt's question, no decisions have been taken. The government have indicated that at the conclusion of the consultation period we will make announcements about the future of certain schools. There is obviously a range of proposals that have been put forward by the government and we are engaging in what is a very constructive debate with school communities. Some very exciting options are being put forward by school communities around aspects of the proposal. Some schools are in fact keen to begin some of the programs that are proposed to commence in 2008. They would like to see them commence in 2007. There is a degree of excitement in many of the schools that there is a possibility here to take the increased investment in public education and put it to good use.
It is an important part of the consultation process that we engage with students and families who may be affected at the conclusion of the consultation process. That is why at the beginning of term 3 the department of education began transition planning with students who may be affected. So each individual student and their family will be consulted around, if you like, a plan B should their school close, so that they have certainty at the end of the school year should a decision go a particular way as to their future education options.
It is very clear, though, that we are engaged in a consultation process, that no decisions have been taken and that there are a variety of options on the table. In some instances, the addition of a year 6 at Stromlo and Kaleen high, for example, is something that has been welcomed by those schools and is something that they are looking to get under way as soon as possible. It is a chance to be a little bit innovative in how we look at public education. It is a chance to move beyond the 1970s model that has served us reasonably well but it has reached a point now where it needs some tweaking in order to be relevant in 2020. It will be 50 years old by then.
On a number of occasions I have posed a question to people who have lauded the success of the college system. It is absolutely right to say that it was a courageous decision at the time to move away from the particular model that had prevailed for a significant period and to engage and embrace some new educational models. The concern I have is that if the sorts of responses led by Mrs Dunne about not wanting to be innovative had been listened to then, we would never have even had the college system. This would not have happened if Mrs Dunne, advocating her particular brand of conservatism, had been around at that time.
I think it is worth noting that the educational research that underpins these proposals goes back a significant number of years. There have been a large number of educational studies. The list on the web site is significant. I encourage Mrs Dunne to broaden her mind by having a look at some of that. Nonetheless, it is the natural default position of the Liberal Party to be conservative. I expect that. I suppose that if there is an area of disappointment it is that those people who would purport to be progressive and advocate progressive policies in this place have adopted an equally conservative and reactionary response to any discussion of change. I find it very alarming that we cannot even engage in a debate and put forward some proposals without being accused of ripping up this