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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 889 ..


are over-enrolled, and others are under-utilised. There are a range of factors for that. It is demographics and the quality of schools that seem to move parents around. This is a particular issue that is affecting Gungahlin. But as Ms Lee said back in 2019:

We have already seen how the use of transportables is increasingly being used to overcome overcrowding. Where once such constructions were seen as temporary stop-gap measures, we now learn that they may be in place for years if not decades. The use of transportables cannot be considered best practice in education delivery.

I agree. This budget continues that practice, with the purchase of a bunch more demountables. I note that, in an answer to questions on notice from the committee, some of those demountables have been there for decades and decades. They are not being used for their intended purposes.

I move to school leadership and culture. Obviously, school leadership and the culture of a school is vitally important in establishing that positive culture. It often varies between schools. A weak culture enables problems to develop, including bullying and violence. We have seen inconsistencies between schools in how they respond to that, as was found by the Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs report No 6, in 2019.

ACTCOSS has raised concerns, as well, about this approach, and says that it “is not clear why each school requires individual procedures, and how this is necessarily a function of school autonomy”. The council has recommended the directorate implement consistent approaches to policy and procedure on violence and bullying across all ACT schools. This will create a consistent expectation of student safety and will benefit students and teachers who move between schools in the ACT.

In a submission from the Independent Education Union, the union said that there is an abundance of anecdotal evidence that bullying, offensive behaviour, threats of violence and actual violence in school settings is increasing. The union submission said that their survey into principals’ health and wellbeing records that the ACT now reports the highest incidence of threats of violence against principals and assistant principals, at 65 per cent. Measured against an increase in the experience of threats of violence in the general population of nine per cent, it is alarming. I agree with the union on that measure.

Our schools are full of dedicated teachers and bright young students, and there really is a lot to admire about many of our schools. I am not blind to the many positives—I am really not. I am a fan of public education. I am a fan of our independent school system, as well. When I come into this place and do critiques of our school systems, it is not to be negative; it is to make the point that we can do better. We should all be striving to do the very best that we can and make sure that our teachers are well supported and our students have the very best opportunity, because I think it can be better. Certainly, my vision is to bring out the best in every child, regardless of their background, opportunity or ability.

To do this we need better education outcomes. The points I have raised in this speech are all points that need to be improved. We should always be striving to do better, and


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