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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (16 August) . . Page.. 2244..


MR BARR (continuing):

to the possibility of looking at new arrangements that might serve us better in the future. That applies across all areas of my portfolios. I am not afraid of reform.

Schools-closures

MR PRATT: My question, too, is to the minister for education. In the proposal Towards 2020 you have put forward options for a range of restructurings within the ACT government school system. Indeed, there is a smorgasbord of 10 options within Towards 2020. Did you devise this list of "choices"to distract the community from the fact that we are going to lose the convenience and efficacy of having schools within their neighbourhood meeting their needs?

MR BARR: No. The government felt it was appropriate to look at a range of educational models. Again, we are not afraid of going out and talking with the public about a variety of different options. Clearly, the answer to Mr Pratt's question is no.

MR PRATT: Thank you, minister. With your considerable experience and enthusiasm as a minister for education, what research did you refer to before coming up with this mind-boggling smorgasbord of choice?

MR BARR: The opposition are seeking to home in on the fact that I do not have a strong background in education. I graduated from the ANU in public policy. No, I do not have a specialist qualification in education.

It is fortunate, though, that, in all of the work that was done to underpin educational research across the jurisdictions, not every education minister is going to be an expert in the field, clearly, in the same way as every health minister is not a doctor. I acknowledge that. If the devastating point you have got is that I am not an education expert, yes, I am not. You did not like that, did you?

Clearly, there has been a great deal of educational research done both within the ACT department of education and a variety of other jurisdictions that has underpinned the range of educational models that have been put forward. There was a specific study done by the ACT education department on middle schooling, but it is not the only study that is out there. There are a variety of others. If Mr Pratt would like to examine in detail all of the educational studies that underpin the different models, they are available on the departmental web site. There is a considerable amount of research that is out there and available. Something that any incoming minister would do is seek to read in detail all the briefing materials and all the information that is out there and available.

Can I recite word for word every piece of research? No, obviously not. No minister could. Let us be serious about this. I obviously have, within the Department of Education and Training and with the resources of all the research that is available on all of these issues, sought the widest possible range of advice from all the experts that are out there. It is important that the government seek to engage with as many education experts as possible on these issues. That is also an important feature of the consultation process.

As I indicated earlier this morning, the next round of that consultation process includes a series of educational seminars that are coming up over the next six to eight weeks. The first one begins tomorrow night, on the new ACT curriculum framework. That particular


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