Page 142 - Week 01 - Wednesday, 15 February 2006

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of that. It will be a good budget that will meet all of our needs, including the need to maintain a good, solid budgetary position that will deliver surpluses over the term. That is our undertaking and that is what we deliver.

And that, of course, is what you are so frightened of. You have absolutely nothing else going for you. You think here by some pea and thimble stuff, some smoke and mirrors stuff, that you might have an advantage. But at the end of the day you are going to be so sorry on what you think is the one little issue that you might have but you will not have.


MS MacDONALD: My question, through you, Mr Speaker, is to Ms Gallagher in her capacity as minister for education. Minister, can you inform the Assembly of the resolution of recent discussions with the commonwealth on student reporting in the ACT?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. Over the past year or so the negotiations that have been going on between the commonwealth and the states and territories over the requirements that the commonwealth is placing on eduction funding have been well publicised. Members will recall that last year the federal government threatened to hold back around $552 million worth of funding to ACT schools unless the ACT agreed to many of their harsh conditions on school reporting and school performance. In fact the former federal education minister, Dr Nelson, was a particularly strong advocate for reporting in schools. He believed that parents should be informed of how their child performed in relation to the rest of the class—whether they were in the top, second, third or bottom quartile.

The ACT government, along with experts in several other jurisdictions, had many concerns with Dr Nelson’s requirements. We have, over a number of months, been in consultation and negotiation with the commonwealth over their requirements for school reporting. From the ACT government’s point of view, it was about how we protect, keep and ensure the current student reporting that we have, whilst acknowledging that we could not say goodbye to $552 million worth of funding and looking at how we could accommodate the commonwealth’s requirement without endangering student performance to any great degree.

There have been many critics of Dr Nelson’s agenda for the educational basis for the requirements that were being placed on the states and territories and, in fact, for the requirements from a funding partner that provides only 9 per cent or 10 per cent of the funding to ACT government schools having such a say about how the schools reported to parents and school communities about how students were performing.

We were successful in winning a number of concessions on the issues of reporting. Firstly, a considerable win was that students in kindergarten will not be subject to quartile reporting and will not be subject to the “a” to “e” reporting of grades. You have to wait until year 1 before you get an “e” for reading. You are six years old before you get your first bad report. Kindergarten parents will receive information on the assessment that the ACT government currently does for all students, which is called PIPS testing.

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