Page 4515 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 23 November 2005

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We have embarked on a curriculum renewal program of over $2 million. There had been no curriculum done for the entire time that those opposite were in government. The documents that have been used and that we are replacing now are 1994 curriculum documents. Again, that is a major area of school programming that was simply unaddressed during the years of the Carnell government.

MR SPEAKER: The minister’s time has expired.

MR GENTLEMAN: I ask a supplementary question. Minister, are there other initiatives the ACT government has prioritised for schools in the territory?

MS GALLAGHER: We have had the school excellence initiative. We have allocated $500,000 to ensure that schools go through that renewal and review process to ensure that they are offering the best service to students, schools and their communities. We are undertaking a review of colleges to ensure that our college system is meeting the needs of students as we move into the 21st century. Again, there had been no review of the college program since self-government. These are the critical core areas that need to be addressed to ensure that current, as well as future, students are accessing educational facilities that will meet their needs.

We have improved the old Stirling college. It is now a premier professional development institution, the centre for teaching and learning. For the first time we have a place in Canberra where teachers can undertake courses. There is a library. Its resources are shared across the entire education system to ensure that our teachers have access to the best facilities for their own professional development, which, of course, has a flow-on effect into schools and classrooms.

We have prioritised education as a major area deserving government expenditure. Our schools have not been so well resourced since self-government, and the results are showing. Our teachers are the best paid in the country. Interest in teaching in the ACT has never been higher, and it is increasing all the time. The concerns that jurisdictions have about teacher shortages, as well as specialist teacher shortages—and these concerns are a challenge for every jurisdiction—are being met because we have a package of conditions in the ACT that mean that our teachers are the best in the country. They are the best paid in the country, with the best conditions in the country, and this will deliver results for our students.

In every review of education, the biggest single contributing factor to student outcomes is the quality of the teaching. We are attracting quality teachers here and we are keeping them here. As teachers are replaced due to aging and retirement, we are picking up the best graduates. If they are in our classrooms teaching our children, then the results for our children will be amongst the best in the country, and they are.

The results of national and international assessments show that our students are performing at the highest levels, not only across the ACT but also across the world. Our investment in education and our recognition of the value of that investment is delivering for children and young people in the ACT. We have a system that we are very proud of. It is a system that everyone can access, regardless of background. The education system

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