Page 2873 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 5 August 2008

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We need to ensure that we have targeted initiatives in literacy and numeracy that are bridging the gap in student achievement.

We need to ensure that, through these targeted interventions, no student is left behind in the ACT. That is significant and important work. That, we believe, is a priority for the next term of government. We have set a particular direction. I have no intention of following Mr Seselja’s policy direction. The government has its own policy direction—

Mr Pratt: No, because he thought of it first.

MR BARR: Regardless of who thought of an idea, Mr Pratt, I am interested in the best outcomes for our education system. That means investing in quality teaching, it means investing in quality facilities and it means ensuring that across our education system, from preschool to year 12 and on to further education, we have in place measures that ensure that students are able to achieve the best they possibly can, so that they are appropriately resourced across the year levels, from preschool all the way through to the end of year 12. That means having targeted initiatives across all levels of schooling. It does not mean putting all of your eggs in one basket. That is why the government will continue to pursue our current policy direction.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.10): I note that this item or something related to it is on the notice paper for tomorrow. As a motion, it will be fully debated so I have decided to save my thunder till tomorrow. Today I will just say that, given these weeks of busyness, I still think that we could have dispensed with matters of public importance. It is disappointing to see that in the last three weeks, when there is so much that we could be talking about, we are covering the same matter twice in two days.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (4.11): It is instructive to hear how little the minister for education has to say about education policy. It is very interesting to see that the minister for education failed to address the challenge put out by Mr Seselja in relation to the shonky, bogus costings of the Liberal education policy put forward by the Chief Minister the other day. It was very instructive to listen. I was interstate but I was able to review some of the media, listen to the radio interviews and listen to and catch the confusion in the voice of the minister for education, who was completely on the back foot over this whole issue.

It is clear that the minister has done one thing: he has stuck to his guns and he has said that he will not go down the path of providing smaller class sizes for children in years 4, 5 and 6 in ACT government primary schools. It is on the record now: Andrew Barr and Jon Stanhope have turned their backs on the children, the parents and the teachers who populate years 4, 5 and 6 classes in ACT government schools.

In all the time that I spent visiting schools when I was the shadow minister for education and for all the time I have been a member, one thing kept coming up time and time again when I talked to teachers in the classroom. The first thing they ask for is reductions in class sizes. They are teaching in year 4; they are asking for reductions in class sizes. That is what the teachers tell you if you visit the classroom and they are being forthright in what they want—especially those who have had the experience of teaching in a class of 21 and then moving to a class of 30. Their workload increases by 50 per cent just like that.

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