Page 3534 - Week 11 - Thursday, 22 September 2005

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curriculum which enables students to develop the capacity to critically interpret and construct spoken, written, visual and multimoded text in a broad range of mediums and the capacity to use critical, analytical and imaginative abilities when interpreting, constructing, evaluating, discussing and using language and texts.

In fact, Mrs Dunne is completely isolated. None of her colleagues in the states or in the commonwealth, no government anywhere in Australia, supports her views on critical literacy and suggestions that it should be removed from the curricula anywhere in Australia. I take this opportunity to refute her attempts to undermine the curriculum renewal we have undertaken in the ACT.

The new ACT curriculum framework has been developed through extensive consultation with teachers, students, parents, professional associations, business leaders and tertiary institutions across all sectors. It reflects what the ACT community believes is essential for our students to know, understand, value and be able to do. The only dissenting voice in the whole of the ACT, perhaps in the whole of Australia, is—surprise, surprise!—that of Mrs Dunne. In the ACT, the teaching of critical literacy is about equipping students with the literacy skills that they need for this century. It is not the same as teaching postmodernist theory.

Critical literacy is about teaching students how to question and analyse what they read, hear, see or watch on television, and this is surely what we want our children and young people to do as consumers and as informed citizens in a democratic society. National and international definitions of literacy have included critical literacy as a core component for decades. It is not a matter of teaching basic reading and writing skills or critical literacy skills. Both are essential for all students in today’s world.

As a result of the approach that we have adopted, the PISA testing results show that ACT students are achieving amongst the best in the world in reading literacy. The suggestion that the curriculum will not help those from low socioeconomic backgrounds is wrong and, given that it comes from a party that went to the last election with a policy to close government schools, is plainly offensive. I have heard it suggested that they did no such thing. One needs only to refer to Mr Pratt’s comments in the Canberra Times of 12 August 2004 to understand the hypocrisy of the Liberals’ position in this regard. Just before the election, Mr Pratt said, “In certain parts of the ACT it will be fairly certain that schools will have to close. You can’t keep schools open which are not productive, the money could be better spent elsewhere. If enrolments were falling and there was another school nearby, you would have to say the merge is on.”

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

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.15): I am going to support the motion because I think that the proposed P to 10 school is contentious and the process by which the government has gone about addressing the need for new school infrastructure in west Belconnen has been manifestly inadequate.

I have said before, and I will say it again in case I am misunderstood, that I am not opposed to the proposal for a new P to 10 superschool. I know that “superschool” is a word that the media, not the government, has chosen, but somehow or other it has stuck. But, like many other people in the community, I am yet to be convinced that it is

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