Page 2629 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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community regarding ACT government high schools, with research indicating that there is a substantial gap between students achieving high and low outcomes as well as a significant level of dissatisfaction and disengagement of students at high school. I know that both the P&C and the AEU have called on the government to address issues with high schools in this budget. I had hoped that this budget would indicate a commitment to examining these issues and addressing them accordingly.

Mr Speaker, high schools are the most difficult area to teach in. I certainly know that from my own experience as a teacher. I think the physical surroundings of a school that is allowed to run down a bit influence the way that children or young people experience their school and then treat their school. It is very difficult as a teacher to be trying to teach art, for instance, when you run out of materials half way through the second semester and you have got to entertain students in some way, let alone teach them.

I think high school is the area where we win or we loose students. It is the area where vulnerable students fall through the cracks, and I have seen it happen time and time again. Primary schools have a pastoral care approach that enables all students, whether they are failing or succeeding academically, to feel part of the place. But at high school students start being labelled and labelling themselves. I am not saying this happens everywhere but students do it to themselves irrespective of what schools do. Students are learning many other things in their lives and some of those things are much more interesting than education. So I think a greater effort needs to be made at high school to keep those kids engaged in the system because if they are going to drop out, that is when they are going to do so, and this happens way to often.

I will now turn to vocational education and training. It is very disappointing that the budget does not expand measures to provide fee relief, bursary support or access to fee exempt courses in CIT for disadvantaged members of the community such as the unemployed, young people at risk, women wanting to return to the work force, people with little education, those with very poor literacy and language skills, people with a disability and people from low income families who wish to increase their education in order to improve their life situation. CIT offers the opportunity for the students we loose in the high schools and colleges to re-engage with education, and it is good at doing that. Students can go back and do their year 12 certificate at CIT and they are back on the road again. CIT is really important.

Before the election the government promised to introduce a bursary scheme for disadvantaged students but this was another casualty of the tight fiscal position that allows us to spend scarce resources on—

Mrs Dunne: Electronic whiteboards.

DR FOSKEY: an arboretum—I am not going to get into electronic whiteboards; I am leaving that one to you—and a dragway but not help disadvantaged students gain the skills that they need to access the work force.

Also missing from this budget is the $2 million of additional funding promised to CIT. I acknowledge the minister’s assurance that CIT has been quarantined from cuts to achieve savings measures but I remain disappointed at this government’s priorities. It

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