Page 4401 - Week 12 - Wednesday, 14 October 2009

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Mr Cobbold’s press release goes on for quite a few paragraphs, and I will not read all of them into the debate today. In the Towards 2020 documents, statements of education performance based upon student testing data were included contrary to protocols for their use, although it must be noted that they were later removed from the public website.

In 2006, the Chief Minister denied that student outcomes performance based upon testing data—ACTAP—was used in deciding which schools to close, but Minister Barr confessed at the inquiry this year that it was in fact the determining factor in whether or not a school closed.

Hundreds of pages of documents and the Costello functional review have been withheld from the public for three years now; another clear example of the disdain and contempt paid to the community by the minister for education, Andrew Barr. New members of this government, and I am of course referring to Ms Burch in this instance, have especially failed to address their predecessor’s mistake. Let us hope this is not the case when Ms Burch takes over her ministerial portfolios.

Instead of standing up for the communities she represents, we have Ms Burch referring to schools such as Hall and Tharwa as boutique schools, as if they were a luxury not a necessity. I would like to suggest that Ms Burch take a drive down to Tharwa. I hazard a guess she may receive a fairly cold welcome similar to that of Mr Hargreaves; nevertheless it would be worth while for her to see for herself what has happened to that community over the past three years without their community and social hub, a primary school.

Looking to the future, these schools highlighted in the opposition’s motion today can and should be reopened. The case has been made and the communities are willing and able to ensure that this happens. They will look to the future with a renewed sense of hope as a result of the decisions made here today. We must pay credit to the devotion and diligence with which these communities actively fought for their schools, and that continues to this day.

The Hall P&C Secretary, Maryann Harris, said during the public hearing:

I feel quite sure that parents of younger children, particularly parents who have children who may have not yet started school, will be very keen to return to Hall. Also, new parents, parents whose children either are disaffected in the super schools of Gungahlin or have moved into the area recently or their children are just growing up and are ready to start school soon will all be available to come back to Hall. It had an excellent reputation at the time. It met the needs of people looking for that sort of school. Those people still exist.

Roger Nicoll, from the Flynn Community Group, also said at the public hearing:

A safe, locally accessible school and early childhood and intergenerational community hub will produce the optimum long-term effects and flexibility for the ACT government and the community. The annual benefits will outweigh any short-term gain from selling off the land for housing. This will be most obvious in terms of the improved social capital in a suburb, as we said before, without

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