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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 3966..


MR BARR (Molonglo—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and Minister for Industrial Relations) (11.40), in reply: When I introduced this bill in May this year, I reminded members of the Assembly that since the Education Act came in to force in 2005, we have seen new and more robust guidelines on the registration of non-government schools, on new registrations of students being home educated and the establishment of new statutory bodies to provide the Minister for Education of the day with advice on government and non-government school education.

However, as occurs with the introduction of new legislation, a number of implementation issues have arisen since the act came into effect. This bill aims to address a number of the technical amendments, as well as addressing some definitional problems that have become apparent.

The intent of the Education Act has always been that activities that are essential for students in government funded schools to meet curriculum outcomes should be provided by the government. However, there are some activities, services and facilities that enrich the school experience, as Mrs Dunne alluded to in her speech, where schools can expect parents to contribute towards costs.

As Dr Foskey indicated, since I introduced this bill in May, I have had a number of further consultations with the parents and citizens association on this issue. An agreement has been reached on how we can address the issue without recourse to legislation. Accordingly, the government does not intend to proceed with this amendment.

The Education Act also strengthened conditions for registration of new non-government schools and the extension of education levels offered at existing non-government schools. While it has always been the government's intention that applications for a second or additional campus be likewise subjected to these strengthened conditions of registration, the act is silent on this matter. So the government is foreshadowing an amendment that will give effect to this intent and to remove any doubt or ambiguity. I do acknowledge that these amendments were circulated late, and I apologise to members for that. Accordingly, we will move to adjourn the debate after the in-principle stage to give members some time to consider those amendments.

The bill also provides a revised process for the registration of home educated children. Currently, parents of home educated students must apply twice during the registration process, once for provisional registration and a second time for full registration. This bill will provide for a single application process.

The bill also provides for a number of minor amendments to facilitate the conduct of elections of school boards. Members will now be able to be elected later than the current provisions allow for. This will, of course, provide schools with greater freedom in conducting elections at the start of the new term. Other sections of the act, notably provisions concerning government and non-government school education councils, have been moved to divisions where similar provisions are contained.


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