Page 4761 - Week 15 - Tuesday, 13 December 2005

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research to ensure that ACT teachers consider the best in new approaches to assist students throughout Australia. This has included working with the University of Canberra and researchers such as Dr Andrew Martin with the study on improving the educational outcome of boys.

Teachers know and understand that students in schools today are facing many challenges. They continually tailor their courses and teaching to meet the needs of these students. It will be a sad day if they ever stop doing that. Teachers are professionals, even though Mrs Dunne seem to think that they are not. Teachers know what works with their students. It is not about throwing out effective past practices; it is about building on these, and it would be very unwise of us not to do so.

The ACT government provides significant funding each year for professional learning to ensure that our teachers are equipped to meet the learning needs of their students. This is obviously a sound investment when you consider the excellent achievements of ACT students. Nationally, comparable assessments of student literacy, numeracy and science indicate that ACT students are amongst the best in Australia, as Mr Corbell has outlined. In the trends in international mathematics and science study, TIMSS, our year 4 students were ranked equal top in the world with students in China.

At the end of this school year, unlike Mrs Dunne and other members of the opposition, I would like to congratulate our teachers, as did Mr Corbell, for their professional expertise and their contribution to the excellent achievement of our students. I wish them well in their work with our students in 2006 and beyond.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.38): I feel duty-bound to contribute to this debate, although I am concerned that we are covering old ground again and not necessarily getting anywhere. There are things that I feel need to be said, because what we often have in these debates is the opposition casting aspersions on what the ACT government is doing in public schools and members of the government standing up and defending themselves, and we do not end up having a real discussion. I think that education is so important that we all should be engaged.

It is good that the opposition is interested, but it is not good that it always, at least in my time here, comes to this topic from a very negative perspective. We have heard today words such as “new ideas in this middle school curriculum” and “experiment with our children”. I hate to burst the bubble, Mr Mulcahy, but these ideas are not new. They are ideas that have been being put basically since John Dewey starting writing about education. They are not new ideas and they keep being said because they point to real issues that we have with educating our children.

Another point I have to address is Mr Mulcahy’s choice of a few quotations where education and equality were spoken about in the one paragraph, if not the one sentence. I think that we all know that the whole origin of public education, free schooling, was about equality, about giving children of less privileged parents the opportunity to move themselves out of poverty. We know that it was literally that; it was about moving them off streets, out of gutters, out of slums. It was a good initiative then. Therefore, I think that putting the word “equality” with education is good, but I have a particular ideology.

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