Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1220 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
Other strong elements of the report which should prove valuable-inside cabinet as well as in the wider community-include an intelligent discussion of the value of good teachers, the looming shortage of good teachers and the kind of support which may help us attract and keep hold of good teachers in the ACT government system. It is true, of course, that the challenge of appreciating, training and keeping good teachers has been known for some time. The Connors report is not groundbreaking in that regard. The point is, however, that this report places those concerns in a reasonably sophisticated discussion of how funding and support presently works for teachers in the ACT government system.
In that context, then, the recommended establishment of a system level centre for curriculum development probably comes as a relief for most staff. I think the Liberal years saw an education system pared so much to the bone that it was impossible to support any innovation or real development not directly funded by the Commonwealth. One of the limitations of this report, however, is that there is no analysis or recommendation of how staff would take advantage of this curriculum support without a supportive culture and without additional resources at the school level, and I think this is particularly critical at the high school level.
The report raises the question of pockets of poverty and social differentiation taking hold in our community but it does not articulate in any detailed way a strategy to address that problem. In part, that is a product of the terms of reference that focus on funding arrangements, and that, of course, reflects the context in which this inquiry was conceived, namely the previous Liberal government's scheme to provide free bus travel for all school students and so promote the increased competitive marketing of schooling in the ACT.
I will just briefly pick up on Mr Pratt's statement-he made it several times-about the Liberals' ideology on schooling being about diversity and choice. We have had that debate in this place many times. However, I will just briefly recap the Greens' position on this-I would say that it is the position of many people who have taken a close look at and researched what happens in a society when you promote competition between schools; whether it is between the private sector and the public sector or whether it is within the public sector, as Jeff Kennett unfortunately did in Victoria with very unfortunate consequences for Victorian education.
The basic outcome that you have to address if you are interested in a high quality education system for everybody in the community-lifelong education, but at the moment we are talking about children-is that people have, regardless of their social status or economic status, access to the same high level education; and that a school is a place where people can have an experience of life which is one that informs them and prepares them for life after school.
Evidence taken over a long period shows that when this ideology was imposed on the schooling system in the UK-it is a pity that Mr Pratt is not listening to this because I would like to hear his response-the obvious happened, and there was a movement out of particular schools by middle-class parents, upwardly mobile parents, so those who were able to moved out of particular schools into other schools. Parents ended up