Page 2928 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 6 August 2008

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years 4 to 6. It requires investment in a range of evidence-based policy positions that encompasses improving the quality of our teaching and investing in a range of technological and infrastructure enhancements in order to meet the needs of students in the 21st century.

There is no evidence to prove that placing children in smaller classes across the board has a significant impact on improving students’ educational outcomes. Similarly, there is no agreement in the research that there is an optimal class size for students in any year, let alone in years 4 and above. There is certainly no research that children in class sizes of 21—the magic figure that is mentioned in the Canberra Liberals’ education policy—are more likely to achieve higher outcomes than children in other classes. In fact, the research cited to support the opposition’s policy statement is 20 years old. Project STAR commenced in 1985. The opposition has used project STAR in a simplistic way that fails to recognise the complexity of its findings which, in any event, do not support the thrust of the opposition’s policy platform.

In 2007, the report of the Senate committee on employment, workplace relations and education on the quality of school education eloquently stated:

The single most important influence on academic achievement is the quality of teaching. Quality teaching engages students and is the key to higher learning for all.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (12.02): I want to thank Mr Seselja for putting this motion up for debate. Obviously, education is a key responsibility of the ACT government, and it is very good to explore our various views on the priorities for school education in the ACT prior to the election.

Indeed, I do not think we have talked about education except in the context of school closures around that time when very foolish government policy was being enacted. This motion is a bit of political grandstanding, unfortunately—it is simply a commendation of the Liberal Party for adopting the education policy that it has adopted. As we have seen, it has been proposed to be amended by the government to say something equally self-serving but entirely different. Of course, with the resources of government, it can make as many claims as 26.

It is good to know that Mr Barr’s early childhood education was so adequate that he knows the whole alphabet and was able to think of enough points to match every letter in the alphabet. I suppose it is a coincidence that his amendment ends with paragraph (z). The lesson, as always, is that a minority government would give a motion like this some real meaning as it would need to be reshaped in a more collaborative way by the various parties in order to be passed. That collaboration would, in itself, be the interesting thing. I am afraid that these debates where one side opposes the other are not really very interesting to the community because we do not end up with any positive outcomes.

I will not be supporting either version of the motion, but I would like to take the opportunity to explore how these issues sit in the ACT Greens’ education policy and to give my views on the challenges facing school education in the ACT. Clearly, the

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