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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 4170..


MR BARR (continuing):

looked at where the schools were located within each region and we looked at access to other schooling options within each education region.

On the financial side, we looked at how much it costs to educate a child in the school and how well the school building was, including maintenance costs and the costs required to bring the school up to an acceptable standard. We looked at the costs of operating the school. We also looked at the fact that there was a significant underutilisation of Canberra's public schools as a result of the changing demographics that I have referred to. We had reference to the fact that the education system is costing, on average, 20 per cent more than in other jurisdictions.

Also, obviously, as part of the consultation process and through over 100 school visits that I made and more than 700 meetings, we looked at what the school communities had to say and we have sought to respond to those issues and suggestions within the broader construct of the policy framework. That has been an extensive process. I do not think that there has been a process anything quite like it in the history of self-government. It has been the most extensive community consultation process in the history of self-government. I believe that we have arrived at a very positive outcome for education in the ACT.

DR FOSKEY: Will the minister or the department be writing to school communities which made submissions but whose schools nonetheless closed explaining exactly why their schools closed and why the department did not take up the innovative ideas they put forward to save their schools?

MR BARR: Yes, we will be publishing and have published on the Department of Education and Training website a full consultation report that outlines all of the issues that were raised and some of the ideas that were brought forward. We have published that document. We have provided on the website a range of information in response to some very frequently asked questions. I am more than happy to provide further information upon request.

Schools—closures

MR SESELJA: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Minister for Education and Training. Minister, some of the schools you listed for closure yesterday in the revised Towards 2020 policy, such as Rivett primary school in my electorate of Molonglo, have a high proportion of students with special needs. Will each of the children with special needs in the schools you listed for closure have a completed and parentally approved transition plan by the end of next week?

MR BARR: I thank Mr Seselja for the question. We have been working very closely with parents of students with special needs since the beginning of term 3. I know there is a very dedicated team within the Department of Education and Training. They have been working very hard on creating individual transition plans. It is possible that not all will be completed. That is simply because some parents chose not to engage in transition planning until there was finality to a decision.

We sought to engage months ago—in July—to begin this process. My advice is that the vast majority of transition plans are complete. We will certainly endeavour to have


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