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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1317 ..

MR CORNWELL (continuing):

I understand that that report was scheduled for release last November. Minister, do you have the report. If so, when will it be released; what are its recommendations; and do you consider the issue serious enough to continue analysing it and to implement programs to address such a worrying situation?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Cornwell for the question. To my knowledge, that report has not been completed, but I will undertake to get further information for Mr Cornwell.

Clearly, the education of boys is a matter of concern. Boys do demonstrate, on average, lower levels of performance, particularly in general English skills. That is not unique to the ACT, but occurs right around the country. The national council of education ministers, MCEETYA, has discussed this issue on a number of occasions. Mr Stefaniak would be aware of that, as the former minister. I am yet to attend my first MCEETYA meeting, but I anticipate that it is a matter in which I will be engaged, at a national level, in the future.

The issue of problems with the education of boys needs a complex range of responses. There are no straightforward solutions to the problems associated with this issue. I think that it is important to note that this government does not support the view of the previous government that a boys-only high school is the way to address such problems. First of all, we believe that it is both extremely resource intensive and difficult to justify in a small jurisdiction. Equally, it has not been demonstrated that the result that we would be trying to achieve-an improvement in the performance of boys-would be produced by the establishment of such a facility.

This government has no plans to look at a boys-only high school, but the department is involved in a range of measures that respond to the data we receive through the assessment process for students. This process identifies issues of concern and provides information and support to schools and teachers, so that they can work individually with students to improve their performance.

In relation to the report, Mr Cornwell, I will get back to you.

MR CORNWELL: Could you indicate when this report will come forward, Minister, bearing in mind that, had it come through in November, which is some five months ago, some recommendations could have been implemented at the beginning of this school year?

MR CORBELL: No, Mr Speaker, I cannot provide a time frame to Mr Cornwell. This government is not automatically committed to all the initiatives of the previous government. I suspect that the particular issue that Mr Cornwell has raised concerns one of those initiatives to which we are not automatically committed. However, I think it is misleading to suggest that it is only through this report that we will be able to make progress on education issues for boys. Mr Cornwell has acknowledged that point.

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