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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 17 November 2010) . . Page.. 5529 ..

MR SMYTH: Minister, can you provide any evidence that supports your claims that the answer was deleted for the reason that you have given?

MR BARR: I imagine that there would be nothing I could say that would convince the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. That said, I have indicated, Mr Speaker, that I have responded to the initial question from Mr Seselja. He did ask it of all agencies and all ministers, and across my portfolios I responded as best I could within the time frames.

Education—teacher quality

MS HUNTER: My question is to the Minister for Education and Training and it concerns the Grattan Institute report released this week. Minister, the report finds, among other things, that reductions in class sizes are not likely to raise average student achievement and that investment in improving teacher quality will have a greater impact on student performance. Do you agree with the findings of this report? If so, will you put a greater focus on teacher quality rather than the reduction in class sizes?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Hunter for the question. It is, indeed, an area where there are quite passionately held views amongst education researchers. I know that Ben Jensen from the Grattan Institute is not alone in his thinking in relation to where it is best to invest new and additional resources in education. I think in the context of the history of ACT government investment that we have perhaps gone about as far as we can go in terms of class size reductions. We have the best student-to-teacher ratios of any metropolitan education jurisdiction in the country by a long way.

I have indicated, Mr Speaker, that obviously the next area of reform in terms of the teaching profession is clearly the focus on teacher effectiveness. That is why we have funded and established the Teacher Quality Institute. It is why I am seeking reform in the next teachers’ EBA. I think it is important that we have some structural reform for the career structure of teachers. I think the Grattan Institute report does highlight the importance of policy focusing on this area now. It certainly will be front and centre in terms of our future policy development and our focus on education reform in 2011.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Hunter?

MS HUNTER: How will any changes or revised priorities being considered be applied to those students found in particular need by the Assembly inquiry into special education and the achievement gap?

MR BARR: Clearly, teacher effectiveness, the quality of the curriculum and our desire to engage in a more robust disability education review as a result of Shaddock and that committee report do indicate that there is certainly considerable scope for further reform in this area to improve education outcomes. I welcome not only the Grattan Institute’s work but also that of the committee and Professor Shaddock in recognising that there is more to disability education than just simply inputs and funding models. In fact, what we need to be focusing on is the quality of education.

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