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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (14 June) . . Page.. 1772 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

What we are doing is very simple. We are telling parents how their child is going in terms of that child's year at school and the system and how their school is going in terms of the system average for all schools across the territory. I think it would take an Einstein to make a league table out of that. So, really, Mr Berry is off with the fairies on this one.

Although Mr Berry is being rather glib in part (2) of his motion, I suppose one could have sympathy with some of it. But he wants us to go back to the Dark Ages and oppose ensuring that there are standards. He is opposed to parents being given information by way of proper reporting measures-information which they want. What does he want us to do-totally scrap all of this testing? How are we going to report to parents if we do not have testing?

Section (3) of Mr Berry's motion is totally counterproductive. We have already done the consultation with stakeholders on ways to improve reporting to parents and to increase government accountability for improving educational outcomes for all students. That is what we did last year and that is what we are putting into place this year with the protocols that I mentioned today.

Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I think Mr Berry's motion should be rejected by this Assembly. If we do not reject it, we will be doing exactly the opposite of overprotecting our kids. Under such a system we will not be too sure how our kids are going, it will be difficult for parents to be given information, and it will be difficult for anyone to take proper steps to ensure that our kids do not fall through the cracks. This is the very reason why literacy and numeracy testing was introduced in this territory and throughout the rest of Australia.

MRS BURKE (5.17): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I would like to support the Minister for Education on this matter. We live in a world where we have been given a free choice, based on information to hand. I believe that Mr Berry's motion prevents parents from having that right to choose in an informed and open way. As Mr Stefaniak said, parents have a right to know how their child is performing as an individual, how their child is performing in relation to other students in their school and within the ACT, and how that particular school is performing. Why would anyone want to keep this information to parents a secret? Why would we deprive parents of this information? Open and accountable governments are not afraid to take such a frank approach.

Why would we not want to know what schools need help and what type of help that might be? I believe that teachers are a very professional body of people. This being the case, I would not have thought that they would take offence at parents knowing how their particular school is faring, and that their school will be helped when and where needed. I believe that in every profession there must be checks and balances relating to performance. There must be healthy processes to measure performance, and schools should not be exempt from this.

Does Mr Berry's motion mean that information will not be given to anyone? Surely not. This motion will only serve to allow a no accountability approach, and I therefore will be opposing it.

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