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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 4 Hansard (21 April) . . Page.. 1092 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

implementing a vision for education. I see schools in the future as being very much more flexible places than perhaps traditionally we have conceived them to be. I believe schools need to be places to interact in a more flexible way - - -

Mr Berry: With big golden arches over them?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Berry can ridicule, but the reason that Mr Hird put this issue on the table today is that we need to examine ways in which our system is going to change, not that we want change for the sake of change but that change will be inevitable, as it is in every area of operation of our community. Unless we are prepared to manage that process and deliver better outcomes with it, then we will be marginalised in the debate and, much more importantly and more worryingly, we will find our system and the products of that system unable to cope with the resulting changed world. I am not prepared to let that happen. I want to see that change managed in a productive way.

Having more flexible schools entails the concept of schools capable of interacting with a whole series of other institutions in the community in a better way. In the last few years we have focused a great deal on more effective interaction between the school system and the world of training, if I might put it in that way. The interlinking between the CIT and other training organisations and bodies outside of the traditional school model has been a very important development. It has focused on the role of schools as preparing people for the workplace. That, of course, is a very important consideration when across Australia there are still too many people without work.

There are a whole series of other interactions between schools and the community which we need to develop. It is important to look at the way in which money plays a role in that. Quite frankly, I think it is true to say that we still have too much money tied up in the concept of a school for a suburb. That puts a school into the position of being principally a community facility designed to play some sort of neighbourhood role for a particular part of the city. That is not a bad thing in itself. It is appropriate that schools play the role, if you like, of lungs or heart or something of that kind in the operation of a particular suburb or neighbourhood in the city. But it is not the only role that schools play. They also have to be capable of being flexible institutions able to interact with a range of other parts of the community - work-based institutions, or businesses, if you like.

Mr Berry made reference to the golden arches. That is perhaps taking it to far too great an extreme. But the idea of businesses feeling that they have a vested interest in the effectiveness of their schools is not a repugnant notion. It is a very important notion. It is a notion about developing schools which are outward looking and focused on the way in which they serve the community. I would hope nobody in this place has any problems with, or misgivings about, that concept. It is very important.

There is a capacity for schools to develop stronger links with universities and other secondary and tertiary education institutions. We need to create in schools the resources to be able to do that. This Government, in the last few years, has focused a great deal on computer literacy, the capacity to take on board the information technology revolution, as an issue for schools. It is an issue for schools, because it is there that we shape the preparedness of our community to be part of the changing world. Information processing

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