Page 5854 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 7 December 2011

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outcome of all ACT students. Ms Hunter is right. This issue does go to the core of the challenges that students and teachers in this space do regularly confront. And it does go to the heart of that. What Ms Hunter is doing is taking a dagger to the heart of Mr Doszpot’s motion. What she is doing, deliberately by omission, is taking out what is perhaps one of the most important aspects of Mr Doszpot’s motion, and that is retaining the existing staff until the consultations have been held.

Mr Doszpot raises this motion as yet another example of how the government has let down those most in need. It is another example of this government reducing services by stealth to areas that are already and rapidly exceeding capacity. We saw this, of course, in 2010 when funding for the Shepherd Centre for hearing impaired children was reallocated to other initiatives. This Labor government continued to insist that services were adequate for hearing impaired children in the ACT, yet in reality the centre was facing closure in the face of a lack of funding. Now we see the same kind of attitude, the same kind of spin, when it comes to ACT students for whom English is a second language.

The fact is, as my colleague has noted, we know there are 12 per cent of students in ACT government schools who meet the ESL eligibility criteria in our system but only half of those students attract any ESL funding. Again, as Mr Doszpot has noted, this is an increase of 35 per cent over 10 years. We could assume that this steady increase in demand for specialised teaching would see an increase in the resources available but this logical approach is once again not the case with this Labor government. We do not see anything extra for these students; nothing at all. In fact, they are getting stuff taken away from them. What they actually get is a withdrawal of support, a lack of commitment, from this government.

The ACT Labor government has seen fit to halve the support, take one of the two positions available as ESL executive officers in the department and cut that down to one, effectively giving one individual responsibility for the learning outcomes of all the teachers who cater to 5,000 students. The school-based, face-to-face teachers of the students who need the extra support are not fully qualified as ESL teachers and have previously sought the support of the modest two, just two, executive teachers who facilitate professional development and support—two experts for almost 5,000 students. That is clearly not the best scenario for an optimal learning outcome for any student, let alone for students that need to be able to master the English language as a starting point before they can even get to where the rest of the school is at.

The other point that has been made today by Mr Doszpot that is worth focusing on is the lack of consultation. This whole scenario has occurred without face-to-face conversation with the teachers involved, without one conversation with a student or family that is affected, and without even consulting the union—no consultation with those at the coalface, with those who have the daily task of ensuring that each of the students receive the support and education they deserve and who need that support in order to be able to fully realise their potential.

It is, indeed, disappointing to see the Greens’ response to this motion. They are blindly following their coalition partners and subscribing to Labor’s rhetoric yet again.

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