Page 3951 - Week 09 - Thursday, 25 August 2011

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The second issue with the structure of the test that I would like to address is that it could be argued that the test is set out in such a way as to require that the standard—that, is the high degree of direct connection—must apply for the offence or offences and does not allow for the cumulative concern that may arise for a person who has committed a significant number of offences.

In the Greens’ view, this is not the correct construction, and the inclusion of the requirements as I propose to amend it to the number of offences committed in the guidelines clarifies that it is the criminal history record and all the offences therein that might give rise to the reasonable belief that there is a high degree of direct connection and that that precludes someone from being permitted to teach. The Greens will move a number of minor amendments that I think will improve the bill. Again, to reiterate, we support the bill.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Education and Training and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation) (4.54), in reply: I thank the shadow minister and the parliamentary convener for the Greens for their support. The Teacher Quality Institute commenced operation this year and has worked with all ACT schools to implement the teacher registration process. The institute will continue to work closely with ACT teachers, local universities and national bodies on key reform elements of the teacher quality national partnership.

As part of this work I can report that the Teacher Quality Institute has recently won a grant from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership to develop a pilot for the national professional standards for teachers. The pilot focuses on the role of teaching standards in the development of quality teachers through effective professional experience programs. The pilot is a collaborative partnership between the Teacher Quality Institute, the University of Canberra, the Australian Catholic University, Macquarie primary school, Holy Family primary school in Gowrie and St Clare of Assisi primary school in Conder. It is a great example of cross-sectoral cooperation focusing on the common goal of teacher quality.

Teacher registration is the process through which we can ensure that teachers are appropriately qualified and suitable for employment in ACT schools. The requirements for registration apply to all teachers, whether they are employed in an independent, Catholic or public school. An essential element of teacher registration and granting of a permit to teach is the assessment of the criminal history of applicants, determining their fitness to teach in the ACT.

The Spent Convictions Act 2000 allows for the assessment of spent convictions when an applicant is seeking employment in certain professions—for example, the judiciary, police or prison service, or anyone involved in teaching or childcare. However, currently the ACT Teacher Quality Institute Act 2010 does not allow for the assessment of spent convictions in assessment of criminal history checks for people seeking employment as teachers in our schools. The passing of this amendment today will allow for the assessment of spent convictions with criminal history checks. It will also bring the act into line with the Spent Convictions Act 2000.

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