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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3852 ..

MS McRAE (continuing):

accelerate the capacity of schools to come back in. I am not saying that they should stay out until the end of term one; I am saying that they should have until the end of term one to come in. Some schools may be ready to come in in March. I do not really care. The point is that I am hearing that, because there are sufficient worries for a sufficient number of people, perhaps some leeway ought to be considered.

As the P and C council says, people are still uncomfortable about the formula, but I accept that this can be part of ongoing negotiation on funds. The P and C council is very concerned about interchange of staffing points. The educational outcomes of interchange of staffing points have not been established. It should be subject to strict educational criteria. There is enough leeway in that. Again I accept that maybe this is a point for discussion and negotiation. Maybe something good will come out of this. But at the moment there are people who do not know what this means, how to deal with it or how the best educational outcomes are to be dealt with, and this in fact could have an effect on our children. This is an unresolved question.

Again I accept that maybe some of the bigger schools are comfortable. They have the formula together; they know what they are doing; they have had 10 people off at training and everything is going fine. But this is not what I am hearing from every school, and because that is the case I think that some space - I am not even suggesting that it be for everyone; I am not suggesting that it be for a long time - ought to be given to the schools to renegotiate their position.

The P and C council has raised the space usage formula as a problem. There are ongoing issues that are being debated. There are ongoing discrepancies in what schools do and do not pick up on 1 January, as the Minister pointed out. But the point is that the schools that are troubled do not know yet what they can and cannot pick up. They are not familiar yet with what they can opt out of and opt into, even within the leeway that is provided within term one, because they have not had enough time to digest, to be trained in and to understand exactly what to do.

As we know, board members, P and C council members and various volunteers working with schools this year may well not be there next year. Schools often have a major change of personnel, both staff and volunteer supporters, between years. This month we are getting everybody up to speed, saying that everything should happen on 1 January; that, hey presto, early next year we will have a new board, maybe a new principal, maybe some new people. Some of the schools know already that this is going to happen, and this is the sort of thing that is troubling them.

I do not want anybody in this debate to exaggerate what I am asking for today. There is no massive disruption plan. There is no overturning of extended school-based management. There is no walking away on Labor's part. We began this process. There is no walking away from some of the very serious issues that Ms Tucker raised. If I had my druthers I would have stopped this a long time ago. I am on the same ideological plane. I think it is fundamentally wrong, but I am not arguing that today.

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