Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 13 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 4180..
MR BARR (continuing):
We know this investment is not something the opposition supports. We know that Mrs Dunne thinks it is throwing good money after bad. Yesterday she described this investment in our educational system, and particularly the new school for Tuggeranong, as a thoughtless bribe and a government splurge. Mr Pratt has responded by saying he does not support it. Mr Smyth, do you agree that your constituents in Tuggeranong are, as Mrs Dunne describes, not worthy of this investment?
Mr Smyth: Why has it taken you five years?
MR BARR: We know, Mr Smyth, that you do not agree with Mrs Dunne.
MRS DUNNE: My question is to the minister for education. Minister, on 15 August, you assured the Assembly and the community that each student affected by school closures would have a transition plan developed by the end of the current term. This process was to have started at the beginning of term 3. However, parents of closing schools state that they have no idea of where they will send their children next year. Minister, why do we have a situation that some students still do not have a transition plan in place a week before their school closes? Will students affected by school closures have the right of enrolment at any school in their area?
MR BARR: I indicated very early on in the process that we would begin transition planning from term 3, and we did. Those options were available for all students in schools that were proposed for closure. I think I am on record in this place on a number of occasions as saying that we would provide that transition planning so that they would have a plan A and a plan B, that if the school closed they would have the opportunity to be able to know at that point which school they would then go on to.
Many parents and students chose to wait until the decision day before seeking to engage in transition planning. We had the offer open from the beginning of term 3. Many parents and students took up that opportunity to prepare a transition plan at that time. We will continue to work with all students and all families affected throughout the rest of this year and into next year, if necessary, to ensure that every student that is affected by a school closure has an individual transition plan.
In relation to the second part of Mrs Dunne's question, it is very clear that students at schools that are proposed for closure have a right of enrolment at any school in their education region. My department's absolute priority is to look after the needs of affected students. We will, of course, be revising priority enrolment areas as a result of the closures to reflect the fact that the education map has changed, and information on those revised priority areas will be released on 8 January next year. But that does not affect the ability of students that are in a school that is to be closed to have right of enrolment at another school in their education region. The revised priority enrolment areas will apply to students who are new to the ACT government school system next year and they will not change the fact that students who are at schools that are closing will have a right of enrolment at a school in their region.