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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 4169..


MR BARR: I thank Mr Mulcahy for the question and for the opportunity to put on record that the government does believe that it is appropriate to provide some financial assistance to students who will be affected by a school closure. So we will provide a $750 transitional assistance package for each child that will be affected. So, Mr Mulcahy, were there to be two or three or four children there would be $750 available for each affected child. The money would be used, obviously, for things like the purchase of new school uniforms and materials that would be associated with moving to a new school.

Schools—closures

DR FOSKEY: My question is to the minister for education and concerns the decision announced yesterday to close some but not all of the schools nominated for closure in the Towards 2020 plan. Using the Ginninderra electorate as an example, in making the difficult decisions to close three primary schools in Hall and Belconnen but to keep Giralang school open, could the minister please advise the Assembly whether the decisions that were made were entirely consistent with recommendations of the department? What influence did school submissions, the response of school communities and representations by other MLAs have on the outcome?

MR BARR: In making decisions, I had regard to the educational, financial and social impacts on students at the affected schools, on the students' families and on the general school community. There were three broad categories of areas that affected the decision—broadly, educational, social and financial reasons. In looking at educational issues, we looked at the number of enrolments in the school, the trend over time and the projected enrolment numbers. We also sought to look at the education provision within the school and within the region and looked at the options available for creating stronger pathways from preschool to year 12.

We looked at the educational outcomes from each school. We looked at the potential to access a greater range of curriculum offerings at other schools in the region. We looked at the availability of extracurricular activities. We looked at the location and affordability of special education programs and the transitional needs of students in these programs. We looked at staff, administrative and supervisory issues, out-of-area enrolments at particular schools, the potential for a school to be converted to a different educational structure, and the potential for strategic partnerships between the school and other organisations. The ability to provide more options in schooling provision for Canberra families was also looked at, as well as the further development of excellence in the school system and particularly the importance of early childhood education.

Social factors that we considered included the changing nature of communities, particularly as neighbourhood schools are no longer the first choice for many families. We looked at the changing demographics in many regions, particularly as there are declining numbers of children. We looked at the fact that fewer children are now walking to school. We looked at the fact that there is a need to have schools where the children actually are and where families wanted to access them. We looked at the relationships within the school and the provision of other community services. We


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