Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 20 August 2008) . . Page.. 3363 ..
falling through the cracks, the kids who are disruptive in class and who need that extra intervention to get them back on track.
There are a number of issues where the government has dropped the ball. I am pleased to see that at least it has kept literacy and numeracy testing. That is an initiative of the former government; I think it was an initiative of mine back in about 1997. I am pleased to see it has been kept and maybe slightly enhanced with three additional teachers. There is also the compulsory physical education activity from kindergarten to year 10.
I am very sad to see that the government has gone into these arbitrary school closures. Whilst the position probably became untenable over the last 15 years, for the government to go completely the other way has just appalled the school community. You need to take people with you. The government was given a template, and it has refused to use that.
The emphasis on vocational education and training has not changed, which is good. There was a significant push for that, which I am pleased to have had a lot to do with, from 1995 to 2000, where we saw the numbers go from about 700 kids doing vocational education courses in college up to about 6000. Some students doubled up and did two courses. There has to be a growing emphasis on vocational education and training, especially in years 7 to 10, if you are going to raise the compulsory age for leaving school. Those options must be available for students in our educational system.
The government says it is spending a lot of extra money, and it seems to hang its hat on this, on better school facilities. There have always been good upgrades within the system. There were some good technical upgrades over the 10 years up until about eight years ago. Spending extra money on better facilities is not going to get the government off the hook, though, because it gets back to this one-size-fits-all policy. People are more impressed by a quality education system where there is choice, where there is diversity and where they can actually send kids to a small school or a large school, rather than by a government that is trying to gloss over the problems by spending a massive amount of money on upgrading facilities. That is important, but it is far more important to take people with you and provide that choice and diversity that was the hallmark of the education system. Sadly, that is lacking now. (Time expired.)
MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (4.19): I will just be speaking to the amendment and will save other comments until I close the debate later on.
It is interesting again to note, and it is always worth putting on the public record, that the government just cannot bring themselves to acknowledge anything good by way of motion. They have to completely remove all words and come up with a motion of their own. About the only thing they have done is come up with a bunch of words, much like a lot of the things that we have seen talked about in relation to GPs, bulk-billing and the like in this debate.