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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2021) . . Page.. 1940 ..

MR HANSON: Minister, on notice—or now if you have it available—will you provide to the AEU and the Assembly the data that shows the extent of staff shortages across ACT government schools?

MS BERRY: That is not the question that the AEU has asked for advice on, but I am working with the Education Directorate to ensure that we can get that detail for the Education Union.

Education—Margaret Hendry School

MRS JONES: My question is to the minister for education. Minister, the Canberra Times reported on Saturday, 29 May that there were serious concerns about education results expressed by some parents of students at Margaret Hendry School. In response to these concerns the Education Directorate wrote that the school would be “deepening its approach to literacy and reading”. The directorate also said that it has already “engaged an instructional mentor”. Minister, what precisely does “deepening its approach to literacy and reading” mean?

MS BERRY: Part of that approach is the Education Directorate and the network student engagement team working closely with the school to understand properly where the improvements need to be made and then working with the teaching professionals at that school. The teaching professionals do a four-year degree to understand and make judgements about how they do their work. My job is about supporting teachers within those school communities to be able to deliver really great pedagogy, after a four-year degree, not to dictate to them how they do that. They get professional support from the network student engagement team and from other experts in delivering literacy and numeracy, to ensure that those schoolteachers get the best possible support to deliver on the ground, and that they use the most up-to-date methods to do that.

MRS JONES: Minister, when was the instructional mentor engaged at Margaret Hendry School, and for how many hours per week is that role on site at the school?

MS BERRY: I would have to take that on notice. As I said, I am not there to dictate how the work occurs. I am there to support teachers to ensure that they can deliver on the ground.

MR HANSON: Minister, what is the role of an instructional mentor? Do other schools across the ACT have them, and to what extent?

MS BERRY: The ACT government has used literacy experts in ACT government schools in delivering the early literacy program across a number of our schools, using literacy expert Christine Topfer. She has been assisting schoolteachers to be able to deliver literacy in a different way, using up-to-date methods to ensure that all of the different pedagogy and styles of up-to-date teaching methods are delivered across our schools. I can absolutely assure Mr Hanson that other schools do have teaching mentors, because, like any other profession, the teaching profession use those mentors and that expertise to ensure that they are kept up to date with all of the most modern teaching methods.

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