Page 856 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 2 April 2008

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territories. So the process can take some time. It is not a matter over which ACT Policing has any direct role; it is a national process that we are a part of.


MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. The latest ACT schools census shows that ACT government schools have lost 310 students since 2007. The non-government sector increased enrolments by 433 in the same period. Minister, why is this exodus happening?

MR BARR: There are a number of factors that have contributed to that drift. I indicated one of them in this morning’s debate—that is, in the primary sector, Radford College expanded its year-level provision. So about 44 students in each of the kindergarten, year 1, year 2 and year 3 levels now attend Radford. The advice we have, when comparing data from 2007 to 2008, is that just over half of those students were previously attending a government primary school.

When you look more broadly across the rest of the education sector, Mr Speaker, you will note that the extension of Burgmann college in Gungahlin to also incorporate years 11 and 12 has meant that the students who previously completed year 10 at Burgmann and then went on to a government secondary college in years 11 and 12 are now staying at Burgmann. I understand that accounts for about two-thirds of the drift between the public and private system at a secondary college level. So there are a couple of expansions in private sector provision that clearly have impacted on enrolments in the public sector.

It is interesting to note, though, that there are significant regional variances across the ACT. The growth in public sector enrolments in Gungahlin, as a result of a new education facility, Harrison primary school, is particularly strong. As I indicated this morning, early childhood schools are showing real growth, most particularly at the preschool level. Interestingly, this census has revealed that, at the four schools that are proposed to become early childhood schools in 2009, including Lyons primary, which has been the subject of some considerable debate in this place, preschool enrolments are up on recent years. That is a real sign that the community is supporting the government’s position in relation to establishing early childhood schools.

In the context of this debate around public versus private, and the role perhaps that we in this place have in influencing the direction of enrolments, I received a letter this afternoon that I thought I would share with the Assembly. It was from the President of the Lyons Primary School Parents and Citizens Committee. It reads:

Dear Minister Barr,

On behalf of the Lyons Primary School Parents and Citizens Association, I would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused by the unfortunate media events of the past few days. The Lyons P&C Association appreciates the fact that you consulted with, and listened to, the communities regarding your decision at the end of last year to move the Italian bilingual program to Yarralumla.

Mr Stefaniak: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order regarding relevance.

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