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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2010) . . Page.. 48 ..

MS HUNTER: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, given that you told the Assembly in November 2009 that it is not possible to create a simplistic league table for the information from the site, did you or your staff have discussions with the Canberra Times about the publication of data from the My School website that was printed in the paper on 29 and 30 January?

MR BARR: I had numerous conversations with reporters from the Canberra Times once their stories were published and at the press conference I held on the day that the website went live. In the lead-up to the announcement, a media release was issued advising that the information would be available online. But no, I did not seek to influence the editorial policy of the Canberra Times; nor will I ever seek to influence the editorial policy of the Canberra Times. I do not think I would have much success, Mr Speaker. And let me assure the Greens that I have no intention whatsoever of taking any travel trips to China or Burma to seek advice from those governments on how to manipulate freedom of the press.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary, Mr Hargreaves?

MR HARGREAVES: Thanks very much, Mr Speaker. Minister, has the government previously had access to detailed comparisons with interstate schools, and has the government previously had access to comparisons with other similar schools?

MR BARR: No. For the first time, information has been made available on the comparison of similar schools according to the index of community socio-educational advantage across the country. This paints a challenging picture for the ACT system, but it also presents some opportunities to learn from best practice.

What I was particularly pleased to see was that across the public, Catholic and independent sectors there were schools in the ACT system that were performing well above their interstate counterparts and that the education system in the ACT has a number of schools that are performing outstandingly. As I said on the day of this data release, though, the challenge within our very good education system is to ensure that all schools are achieving to the level that some of the schools across the sectors have demonstrated through the 2009 testing data.

It is worth noting, of course, that from 2008, when the NAPLAN testing began, to 2009, the ACT was one of only two or three jurisdictions in the country that showed a statistically significant improvement in a number of the NAPLAN testing domains, particularly in year 3 and year 5, from memory in the areas of grammar, punctuation and spelling. That was important—to see some improvement from 2008 to 2009.

This jurisdiction continues to be either equal first or second across the country in all of the domains except maybe one or two out of the 20 or so that are tested. We continue to be a top performing jurisdiction, but that does not mean that there is not more work that can be done. That is why the government has a five-year literacy and numeracy strategy that commenced last year, particularly in response to data that we got from the 2008 NAPLAN testing.

MS LE COUTEUR: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.

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