Page 3096 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 August 2013

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So where and how do they absorb these cuts? Well, in less services, cuts to courses, less options and amenities for students and possibly reduced staffing. Students will experience it first hand, because they will lose the much needed start up scholarships.

All of that has come to pass and all of those potential scenarios are now a reality.

In moving to the primary school sector, the minister and officials could not quite decide whether the $6.2 million in savings listed in the budget papers would be found through staff cuts or other measures.

I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of ACT primary schools in recent weeks, and I intend to visit them all over the next three years. I would have to say that none have suggested to me that they are overstaffed, and none have suggested they could do with less resources. In fact at one school I saw at first hand the impact of less than satisfactory ICT arrangements. Just as we experienced a lack of printer services here in the Assembly a couple of days ago for quite a few hours, spare a thought for a school that I visited that had no ability to print anything at the school for several days. If the minister believes there is fat in the system, I suggest she does not look to services or staff in schools.

The budget had a $200,000 allocation for the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations to support P&C canteen services in public schools. This was an issue I raised a number of times in this place with this minister. I have to say she did not bother to understand what was happening in school canteens and why so many of them were under staffing and financial pressures. She chose instead to hide behind the process the directorate had in place with a task force.

The money being allocated will now be used, in part, to pay for the services that the defunct Canteens Association—a group that the minister was especially scathing of—was doing. Had she listened to what was happening in public school canteens a little earlier, this money could have been delivered earlier and had a bigger impact.

I note also the Labor Party election promise of $1 million for primary school libraries—$1 million over four years. Teacher librarians are an issue that I have consistently taken great interest in. It is a constant and repeated question I ask when I visit a school: do you have a teacher librarian? I am pleased that many schools so far have said that they do, but I know it is sometimes a tough decision for a principal to take in keeping a dedicated position in place.

I do not think the importance of teacher librarians can be overstated. They are key to creating and delivering literacy programs to students from preschool through kindergarten to grade 6. It is here that students learn the wonders of books, if they have not already had the experience at home—and, sadly, many children today do not because of time-poor parents.

Teacher librarians today have to be even better trained than before the digital revolution because not only do they need to know and understand the new

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