Page 2876 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 5 August 2008
order to be able to deliver that. Unfortunately, we know from their lack of good policy as shown in today’s Canberra Times that the ACT Liberals have none of these attributes.
There is much research to show that smaller class sizes in the early years are the way to go. That is why I am proud to be part of a government that has already delivered just that. While promising smaller class sizes across the board may be a good way of getting a headline, research also shows that it is not the best use of taxpayers’ money. It is not the best way to improve educational outcomes. Smaller class sizes themselves are not a silver bullet to improve the learning outcomes of all students, despite what the opposition may claim. I am advised that available research does not support the claim that all classes should be reduced to a magic number. In fact, there is no agreement on what number that should be. As Minister Barr has just said, a number of factors, such as quality of teaching, facilities and curriculum, all play a role in student outcomes.
That is why recently I was very pleased to visit the new west Belconnen regional school and meet Mr Richard Powell, who is now appointed as its principal. This is a $46 million example of this government’s effective investment in education in all the aspects that lead to good educational outcomes for young Canberrans: facilities, curriculum, leadership and quality teaching—most importantly, quality teaching. I think it is fair to say that Mr Powell, with his skills and experience, is not only a great choice to lead this new school but an example of what the minister has just been talking about—that is, quality teaching. For the past seven years Mr Powell has been principal of Hawker college. During that time he put in place programs that saw his students improve their results year in and year out. As I indicated, the west Belconnen regional school demonstrates the fact that getting good education outcomes takes a mix of measures.
Members opposite seem to be rather interested to learn more about this school. I thought they might have paid attention previously, but I will outline some of the features. The school will feature two preschool playrooms plus an additional preschool room for Indigenous students; 10 classrooms dedicated to kindergarten to year 2 students; and eight classrooms dedicated to students in years 3 to 5. The middle school will feature 13 classrooms dedicated to year 6 to year 8 students, as well as a dedicated dance and drama room, communication lab, multipurpose science lab, practical activities room, seminar room and learning skills unit classroom. The high school will feature seven classrooms for year 9 and year 10 students as well as a dedicated media studio, a textiles studio, a visual arts studio, a design and fabrication lab, two construction rooms, three science labs and two kitchens as well as various withdrawal spaces for student use.
To ensure a well-rounded education including physical activity, the school features a gymnasium, outdoor tennis and basketball courts and other outdoor playing spaces to allow for a number of different activities, including netball, soccer and volleyball. To ensure that students are aware of climate change and what they can do to combat that in terms of their school, the school features various environmentally sustainable design features, including building orientation and solar passive design, solar hot water and underground rainwater storage. As we know, the arts are also important in terms of a well-rounded education experience. I am pleased to note that Mr Powell is