Page 5834 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 7 December 2011

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MR HANSON (Molonglo) (3.32): The discussion today has been about excellence in teaching. I was not going to speak to this motion were it not for the fact that today I attended a graduation of my son’s primary school class, and I would like to take this opportunity to commend a number of outstanding teachers who have been teaching the year 6 class at Canberra grammar school.

The teachers of the various classes in year 6 made speeches at the graduation ceremony in recognition of their students, and it was quite clear what a profound understanding they had of each of their students and how much effort each of those teachers had put into educating those young boys. Led ably by Tony Laudenbach, the teachers are Mr Tim Guthrie, Mr Geoff Hill, Mrs Kathy Johnston and Mr Craig Donaldson.

I am very privileged to have some outstanding teachers teaching my children. My other son, Robbie, is taught by two fantastic teachers—Anna Fox and Danielle Bugden. My small contribution to this debate today is to acknowledge a number of the very fine quality teachers that I know in the ACT and to commend their efforts.

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Corrections) (3.34): What is the most important job for any government? To ensure every young person gets the best possible start in life. This means ensuring every student gets the best possible education. The ACT government is determined to attract and retain the very best teachers for ACT public schools. I therefore wholeheartedly welcome that in-principle agreement was reached with the Australian Education Union executive council regarding a new teachers enterprise agreement, which will see important elements of the government's education reform take place.

Enterprise agreements with teachers form the industrial framework for implementing government policies to improve delivery of school education and student outcomes. The new enterprise agreement for teachers in ACT public schools will have far-reaching positive social impacts for the ACT community. It will help attract and retain high quality teachers and school leaders for ACT public schools. The agreement will help to keep the best teachers in classrooms where they have direct, daily interaction with our children and young people. It will also help the ACT government meet its reform commitments to the Council of Australian Governments under the improving teacher quality national partnership.

ACT public school teachers already enjoy employment conditions that compare very favourably with those of teachers in other jurisdictions across Australia. Weekly face-to-face teaching hours in ACT secondary schools are lower than in any other jurisdiction. For ACT primary schools, weekly face-to-face teaching hours are lower than in any other jurisdiction except Western Australia. ACT teachers have 197 teaching days in the school year. This is lower than in New South Wales and Victoria and the third lowest overall after Queensland and the Northern Territory.

The latest published figures for student to teacher ratios in 2010 show the ACT primary school ratio of 13.5 students per teacher to be lower than any other

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