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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2021) . . Page.. 1982 ..

development of a whole new review based on Canberra Liberals’ terms of reference, as suggested by Mr Hanson.

As the ACT P&C association has informed me, “While the Canberra Liberals’ education vision for Canberra raises some valid concerns, we do not believe another inquiry into public schools would be helpful. The council would rather the focus be on implementing the recommendations from recent inquiries.”

In my meetings with the AEU ACT branch over the last few months and my discussions with them this week, we discussed a range of issues that have been raised by their members about our school system. The most significant is the nationwide teacher shortage, an issue which plays out here in the ACT, too. Mr Hanson’s motion and the glossy paper that it is seeking to vicariously promote do not speak to this issue. They do not talk about teachers being underpaid and overworked or the need to support and foster respect and admiration for the significant intellectual and caring work that our teachers provide young people. No, it plays into the conservative and offensive discourse that it is a lack of intellectual and professional rigour among teachers that leads to the alleged poor outcomes for students.

This conservative project is indicative of the approach that my colleagues in the Canberra Liberals take to our teachers and our public schools. Their attack style is unproductive and serves to play to their base, vicariously supporting the privatisation of our public institutions and undermining the professionalism of our public servants.

My amendments reflect the stakeholder engagement that I have done this week by drawing attention to the series of inquiries and reviews that the ACT government and this ACT Assembly are currently undertaking or have undertaken in the last five years and providing scrutiny of the government’s progress on implementing these recommendations.

Alongside the significant reform work being undertaken in response to the Future of Education review, the Assembly itself has undertaken significant work through the standing committee inquiry processes, including a current review into school infrastructure to ensure that we are appropriately building and looking after our schools. These reviews have already produced over 40 recommendations to improve the cultures of our schools and examine the use of standardised testing.

In advocating for their members, the Australian Education Union have been adamant in their distrust and disapproval of the out-of-touch and unhelpful testing regime and funding system that NAPLAN underpins. While the Canberra Liberals worship the NAPLAN testing system and rely on it to rip into our public education system, real education experts know that relying on this data is naive, as it fails to provide a well-rounded understanding of the capacity of cohorts and individual students to navigate and critically engage with the complexity of our worlds. It certainly does not account for the significant differences between schools and teachers who are forced to prepare students for NAPLAN, practising and re-practising tests rather than creatively and critically implementing the curriculum.

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