Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 August 2008) . . Page.. 3360 ..
so much in our school bus network. The government was faced with a situation where, in many of these instances, the local communities had already voted with their feet and there was 80 per cent bypass of the local schools. The chance to walk to school was being overlooked because other factors were rated more highly, most particularly the quality of education and the quality of facilities.
When a government is faced with a situation where 80 per cent of the catchment, the priority enrolment area, are choosing to go to other schools, that raises questions about how the community is valuing the particular school in the local area. That is when tough decisions need to be made about prioritising quality. In the end, there are only so many resources available to share across the education system. We took the view, and continue to hold the view, that prioritising quality over quantity is the right thing to do. If you have to travel a little bit further to go to a better school, you will get a better educational outcome, and that is better for society overall.
Dr Foskey also wondered what we are currently doing in the context of a discussion paper that I have released in relation to engaging with that 10 to 12 per cent of students who are not completing year 12. I point to the success of the CIT vocational college and the ability of students to access programs like CIT’s access 10 and access 12 programs. Nearly 4,500 students are enrolled in the CIT vocational college. That gives an indication of the success of that program. It received additional funding in this year’s budget.
In terms of engagement with students of an earlier age who are disengaging from education, the government did fund the establishment of three achievement centres within our high schools, focusing on students in that transition from primary school to high school, looking particularly at years 7 and 8. Those achievement centres have been established at Wanniassa, Campbell and Canberra high schools and are in place this term. There will be a student-teacher ratio there of one to six. There will be a maximum of 18 students in those programs, and there will be three staff working with those students. We are targeting resources in areas where we know we can achieve good outcomes and where we can engage with students who are disengaging. That is important in terms of ensuring our education system is meeting the needs of all students.
In the 30 seconds that remain to me, I would like to again thank Ms MacDonald for raising this issue. I indicate that the government will continue to work in education across all aspects of our education system—from preschool to PhD. We want to ensure we have a comprehensive education policy that meets the needs of all students—preschool, kindergarten, primary school, high schools, colleges, vocational education and training, and on to tertiary education. It is important to have a comprehensive policy in place, and I am very pleased this government has been able to achieve that, Mr Speaker.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (4.09): I also welcome the debate on Ms MacDonald’s matter of public importance. Despite the fact that it is a motherhood statement, education is one of the most important things in the minds of most people in Canberra. Health and education always seem to be the two big issues, and I do not think anyone could gainsay the need for and the importance of building a better future for our children through investment in quality education.