Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 2 August 2018) . . Page.. 2652 ..
enthusiasm for lifelong learning, respect and tolerance of others and an aim to develop every child’s potential.
Parents choose a school for their children for a whole myriad of reasons. Some like smaller schools. Some parents want their children to attend the same school from kindergarten to year 10 or 12. Some seek an emphasis on pastoral care, religious education, sport, drama or music.
In my conversations with parents, they often stress how important it is that their child is at their chosen school. One parent from the Tuggeranong area told me that she chose to send her child to a small school in the inner south because it offered a safe, inclusive special needs program that was perfect for her child and her needs.
Another parent thought the most important thing for her child was access to Italian lessons at a bilingual public school in the inner south because it was important for this family that her child appreciate and know her ethnic heritage by continuing to learn the language of her ancestors. Other parents want their son at a boys-only school or their daughters at a girls-only school.
I have met with several parents who, for a wide range of reasons, have chosen to home school their children. Home schooling is not an easy option for parents but one that parents make for their children because it is the best fit for their child’s and family’s circumstances. With current regulations on home schooling under review, I will not make much further comment at this stage, except to say that it is important that such an option is available and accessible to parents here in the ACT, as it is elsewhere throughout Australia.
Whatever the reason, it is the parents’ right to determine what best suits their child. This is reflected in the ACT Education Act, which says under its guiding principles on high quality education:
(b) school education and home education should …
(iii) encourage parents to take part in the education of their children and recognise their right to choose a suitable educational environment.
In the ACT today we are indeed very fortunate to have a wonderful and wide array of choices for parents. Whether your preference is for a government or a non-government education, there are schools in the ACT that in just about every circumstance cater for a child’s educational needs.
Various languages are offered at a myriad of schools from preschool to college; there are gifted and talented classes available throughout Canberra schools; there are accelerated learning programs, drama, engineering, specialist STEM centred schools, and special needs education, all in both government and non-government schools.
There is no single basis for parents’ choice of a school for their children. A great many studies point to the various factors that contribute to their decision. A consistent theme is that people place a high value on the availability of choice, even amongst