Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 15 Hansard (Tuesday, 13 December 2005) . . Page.. 4757 ..
experiences that will challenge them just enough for them to reach out, but not too much that they give up on the task of learning. To do this, teachers need to talk to the students, build a relationship with them, and find out where they are at before understanding how they best learn. Only then can teachers devise programs that suit the class as a whole.
The ACT education system is still the best in the country. We are not abandoning best practice, but there is always room for improvement. The extensive community consultation process in developing the ACT curriculum principles and framework for years P to 10 identified high expectations for young people in the ACT to be independent, discerning critical thinkers who are productive members of our society, productive citizens. The focus of the new ACT curriculum framework will be to improve learning for all students. There is a strong focus on personalising learning to meet the needs of all students, including those in the middle years, yet retaining a strong emphasis on the traditional subject disciplines. This will be the approach of the Stanhope government into the future as we continue to undertake this important process of curriculum renewal.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (4.21): I rise to speak in support of Mrs Dunne regarding some of the concerns that she has expressed today. I do not profess to be an authority on educational matters, although I do take a keen interest in this field. I have a lot of regard for people who select this profession. I do believe—I am sorry that the Chief Minister is not here to hear this—that collectively they are probably an underpaid group, given the work they do and the remuneration they draw for what they do for our youth. But I am troubled by the tendency constantly to experiment with the curriculum.
That has happened on many occasions, beginning long before I set foot in the Assembly. When I was considerably younger, I saw other members of my family going through their schooling while people kept experimenting with new methods of teaching English and new methods of teaching mathematics. One of the problems that that creates is that those who dream up these things, and there are all sorts of agendas running in the area of curriculum development, fail to appreciate that, if they get it wrong, they have potentially seriously and irrevocably damaged the prospects and long-term development of someone within their care.
It is not just folklore to say that there are people coming out of universities who can barely write in the physical sense and who cannot spell, yet they walk out of university with degrees and into the work force and then they have to be trained in fundamentals. The managing partner of an accounting firm I spoke to recently told me that they now have to put all their graduates through formal training on fundamentals because, in many instances, the graduates are not capable of writing basic documents. So, when one hears of bright new ideas in curriculum development, one has cause for concern if those initiatives are not soundly based, are in the experimental dimension and have the potential to bring about adverse outcomes for the pupils who are being subjected to them.
Parents often are not in a position to determine whether they are correct. I submit that many teachers and those that devise the curriculum are relying on a range of published views that often are not tested. I have looked quite extensively over the published material on curricular development. I have read of experiments in Belfast whereby trials have been undertaken and then those conducting the experiments have looked at the conclusions and said that some people were worse off suddenly with maths and some