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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 652 ..


Adjournment

Motion (by Mr Gentleman) proposed:

That the Assembly do now adjourn.

Schools—languages curriculum

MRS KIKKERT (Ginninderra) (5.22): Earlier today I presented a petition signed by 61 Canberra residents who want this Assembly to understand how the cancellation of the French language program at Belconnen High School in Hawker has impacted their families and their children’s learning. The priority enrolment area for Belconnen high includes three primary schools. Two of these, Weetangera and Hawker, provide well-regarded French language programs to their students from kindergarten through to year 6.

In previous years, students from these schools who enrolled at Belconnen High School had the opportunity to continue learning French for another two years, capping off nine years of intensive language learning. The end result was young people who could speak, read, write and understand French to a high degree.

This seamless learning pathway ended in 2017, however, when the decision was made to discontinue the teaching of French at Belconnen High School. This leaves students who have picked up a solid foundation in the language during their primary years with no option to really build on this foundation and solidify their learning at the local high school.

When I raised this concern with the minister last year and asked what options existed for these families, she noted that they can attempt to enrol their children at a high school that does teach French. Of course, she added that such a request would be considered like all other applications to out-of-area schools, which we know often fail in this territory.

The frustration of those who have signed this petition has been increased by the fact that this change at Belconnen High School has left students in years 7 and 8 with no option to study a priority language at all. The government’s curriculum requirements in ACT public schools policy very clearly states that all high schools in Canberra must provide students in years 7 and 8 with at least 150 minutes of instruction each week in one or more of eight priority languages, including French. Students in these years at Belconnen currently receive zero.

The minister has already told me that “the ACT Education Directorate continues to work with Belconnen High School to seek opportunities to deliver language options for students”, but it has now been four years since the French language program at Belconnen High School was cut, with no indication that it will be restored any time soon.


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