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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 11 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3443..


Schools-closures

MRS DUNNE: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training and relates to the establishment of P to 10 schools in Amaroo, Holt and Harrison, amongst others. In July 2005 when your predecessor announced the closure of at least five schools in west Belconnen, to be replaced with a P to 10 school, she told the Canberra community that P to 10 schools were to be the Stanhope government's preferred model of education. The minister pointed to the apparent success of schools in Amaroo and plans to build another in Harrison. In Towards 2020, however, we see proposals over and above the conventional K to 6, 7 to 10 and 11 and 12 schools and the more recent P to 10 school to introduce 7 to 12 schools, which have not been seen in Canberra since 1973, and, on top of those proposals, 9 to 12 schools, 5 to 8 schools, 6 to 10 schools, P to 3 schools and P to 4 schools. Minister, this year, what is the Stanhope governments preferred model of education?

MR BARR: I thank Mrs Dunne for the question. It is good to see her up on the back bench. It is important to look at what the government has put forward in the context of its being a proposal. We have a variety of schooling structures within our system. We have always had that variety. There are some new configurations that we have put forward for discussion, and we are having that discussion with the community at this point. Those discussions will conclude on 6 December and the government will then make decisions around future schooling structures.

However, it is important to note that all of the models that the government has put forward are, in essence, operating within the system at the moment. We have early childhood schools already. We have schools with a middle schooling focus already. The one area where we are proposing to put some choice into the public education system is, as Mrs Dunne has identified, in relation to 7 to 12 schools. I would reject the assertion that they have not been seen in the ACT since 1973. I think there is a large number of 7 to 12 schools currently operating in the ACT in the private sector. So the model is not unheard of.

The question we have posed is: is there room in the public education system for 7 to 12 schools? Not to replace the college system, a system that we very strongly support, but is there room within the public education system for some additional choice and for there to be some 7 to 12 government schools? That is the question that we have posed. It would be fair to say that in particular regions of Canberra there is more support for that proposal than there is in other regions of the city. The government has acknowledged that and will take all of that feedback into account when making its decisions in relation to the proposals that it has put forward.

I do think that it is a little bit disingenuous of Mrs Dunne to assert that there has to be a one-size-fits-all model. There does not. The government has preference for a degree of flexibility across the system, looking at the particular regional differences that occur in our city. We are having discussions at a regional level with local communities around preferred models of education. It is important to know that all of the models that the government has put forward are, in essence, already operating. We have early childhood and we have schools with a middle schooling focus.


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