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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2406 ..



very important male role model which must be exercised. Yet this government continues to remain in self-denial about boys education.

Mr Speaker, in regard to discipline in schools: I spoke earlier of worn-out and overworked teachers. We know that part of the problem of the burden on our teachers is the trend that the discipline has begun to deteriorate in all schools in the ACT. We're talking about both collective and personal discipline. We're talking about the collective discipline, which allows our students to feel proud of their schools, to feel proud members of teams. Then there's the personal discipline, Mr Speaker, which we have to inculcate in all of our students so that they can equip themselves to be able to focus on their studies and make all the right life decisions, both personal and academic, in the years ahead.

We believe that that is an area that needs to be addressed, and we don't see any indication in this budget that those issues are being addressed, other than the very good initiative undertaken by the government, as I said earlier, to introduce welfare officers to some schools, to provide a bit more support to those beleaguered teachers, to address those students who, we know, are disengaging from schools.

Whilst we're talking about that, we also know that our disengaged students, particularly young boys, don't really have any great desire, as they see the schooling system now, to go onto a year 12 finality. We know that they need to be looking at VET options. We would like to see the curriculum fine-tuned in early high school years which perhaps would allow a number of technically oriented subjects to be introduced.

Of course, these are not certificate subjects; they are technical subjects nevertheless, which might be there so that 14 and 15-year-old boys, who might be considering a technical career stream, might be able to be introduced to those subjects, with a view to following the pathways into the VET stream. That's an area that needs to be addressed.

Mr Speaker, we go on to talk about testing and quality assurance regimes, and we don't see too much in the budget about that.

Mr Speaker, I would finish by saying that, on this side of the house, we support a viable government sector, as well as supporting the choice for families, if they wish to, to take their children to non-government schools, and to be able to move their children, at appropriate ages, from non-government schools back into the government sector. We do support diversity; we do encourage colleges on both sides of the non-government/government divide to take on skills and capabilities that they know other colleges can't have. Some families are already doing this; some families have been doing this. They send their children between the sectors, depending on the individual child's needs. To be able to achieve that schooling environment, we must ensure that both sectors are viable.

It's a great shame that the ISS has been ripped out of the non-government sector, and it's also a great shame that there hasn't been sufficient reform built into this budget to go in and test, and to see how we can improve and uplift levels to those of excellence in all of our government schools consistently right across the ACT sector.

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