Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 11 Hansard (Thursday, 21 October 2010) . . Page.. 4826 ..
That the report be noted.
Before talking to the report I would like to thank the committee secretary, Sandra Lilburn, for her hard work, once again, in putting together this report. I would also like to thank my fellow committee members, Mr Hanson and Ms Porter. I think this is a very comprehensive report. It is a tripartisan report as well. I think we all agree on the recommendations that have come through.
This inquiry was referred to the committee in June 2009, along with the educational achievement gap inquiry which was finalised earlier this year. One of the terms of reference for this inquiry concerned the review of special education in the ACT commissioned by the ACT government and led by Professor Tony Shaddock. The report entitled Disability, diversity and tides that lift all boats was made publicly available in late December 2009.
The committee extended the deadline for submissions to allow groups and individuals the opportunity to comment on the proposals set out by the review team. The committee met with Professor Shaddock in April this year. The ACT government will respond to the Shaddock review in due course but advised the committee that many of the options proposed are being progressed. The committee looks forward to hearing more about the strategies proposed to improve disability education services in the ACT.
During the inquiry the committee noted that a number of factors, including educational theory and human rights and anti-discrimination laws, have contributed to the greater inclusion of students in mainstream education settings. The success of inclusive education strategies is contingent upon a number of factors, including the nature of the student’s learning needs, the effectiveness of the teaching strategies employed, the adequacy of resources provided to support teaching and learning and the capacity to adapt the delivery of educational services.
An inclusive education approach does not suit all students with disabilities, however. The committee has emphasised in its report the importance of ensuring genuine parental choice in school type. Parents are often best placed to determine their children’s learning needs, in consultation with education experts, and parents should have the choice of sending their child to a general school or a disability specialist school. That should be something they have control over.
The capacity of adaptations made to deliver an equitable education experience to all students largely relies on administration and resourcing factors. These factors include the conceptual framework underpinning service delivery, leadership within education systems, teaching expertise and resourcing, clarity about the learning needs of individual students, effectiveness of school-based support services, successful communication with parents and carers and expectations within the school community.
The report proposes 30 recommendations which seek to reinforce the proposals set out in the Shaddock review of special education or improve the effectiveness of