Page 2719 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 16 August 2005

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school. The most expensive school ever built in Canberra will be for the benefit of West Belconnen residents. We are very proud of that. We think it is a fantastic initiative. This school will be able to offer the most modern facilities, the latest technology, specialist teaching spaces and a rich and varied curriculum. I have heard many people say it is not the bricks and mortar that provide children with an education, it is teacher quality and teacher standards. But providing a fantastic environment for children to learn in and teachers to teach in can only support improved educational outcomes, and that is what we are talking about here.

Each student cohort in the proposed new school will have their own individual teaching area, purpose-built middle school for students in years 6 to 8, assisting them to make the transition from primary to high school. Already this method has been used successfully across Australia. Research shows that the great continuity, increased partnerships, lasting relationships and flexibility provided by middle schooling results in better educational outcomes for students involved. This method of schooling is not based on the American model, as some have erroneously suggested. Rather than a super school, it is four small community schools of different age cohorts on the one campus. The government believes this opportunity should not be confined to new suburbs like Amaroo but should be available to those in long-established areas of the city.

Initial feedback has shown that the people of Canberra are interested in the proposal. Many are excited about the re-investment in education and in the Belconnen community, but that is not to say that there are not members of the community and certainly young people, particularly those attending the current Ginninderra District High School, who have some concerns around the government’s proposal, and that is what this six-month period is all about. It is about listening to those concerns, addressing them where we can and, at the end of it, making a decision on the new school.

Mrs Dunne: You have already made the decision.

MS GALLAGHER: No, we have not, not on the new school.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The minister’s time has expired. Order, Mrs Dunne!

MS PORTER: I ask the minister a supplementary question. She mentioned the benefits of the middle school that the new school will encompass. Is this the first time a school with years P-10, along with middle schooling, has been introduced in the ACT? If not, is the minister aware of the opposition’s position on this issue?

MS GALLAGHER: As I have already said a number of times, this method has been used across the ACT for some time. A new purpose-built school taking in preschool to year 10 students is in operation at the Amaroo school. Gold Creek school uses this method, as do Wanniassa and Telopea Park schools. However, given recent comments from the opposition on this issue, I must give credit where it is due, for it originally supported this idea and this style of infrastructure to support teaching and learning outcomes in the territory. In fact, I have to give credit to the former education minister, Bill Stefaniak, who originally supported the idea to build a new school on this model in Amaroo. On 13 February 2001, he said:

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