Page 3605 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 22 October 2013

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Literacy skills play a vital role in ensuring students’ success in both academic and vocational studies. Higher education institutions have identified weak literacy and numeracy skills as impediments to students’ progress in post-secondary education. Literacy and numeracy are also key foundation skills in initial vocational education and training.

There have been small changes to the requirements for the ACT year 12 certificate over the past few years, but I believe it is timely to undertake a more formal review to ensure that the certificate continues to meet student and stakeholder needs in a changing environment. Other states, such as WA and South Australia, have recently undertaken reviews of the requirements of their senior secondary certificates; there has not been a major review in the ACT for a number of years. The mandatory study of English would strengthen our senior secondary credential in terms of its reputation for preparing students for their future and in remaining competitive with other national and international credentials.

The review of year 12 certificate requirements to be undertaken will involve consideration of national and international best practice in the area, as well as consultation with ACT students, teachers, parents, tertiary institutions and the broader community. I expect an initial report by March of next year. The implementation of any changes to the requirements for the certificate will be timed to ensure that students and their parents are informed of the new requirements well before students start their senior secondary studies.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Berry.

MS BERRY: Minister, is it the case that a number of students already study English and maths in year 12?

MS BURCH: Again, I thank Ms Berry for her interest. ACT students certainly rank highly in all aspects of literacy and numeracy in the NAPLAN tests. However, it is important that we ensure that all students continue to develop their literacy and numeracy skills throughout their education.

Further, our year 9 NAPLAN results indicate that while we still perform well there are some students not meeting national benchmarks in literacy and numeracy. It is important, therefore, that we ensure these students continue to access high-quality literacy and numeracy education throughout their education.

Of the students who achieved a year 12 certificate last year, close to 120 students did not complete an English course and nearly 290 students did not complete a maths course across years 12 or 11. Some of these students may have avoided English and maths because they were not strong in these areas.

The senior years may be the last opportunity for these students to get support to improve their literacy and numeracy skills. The key is to ensure that we have English and maths courses that are interesting and relevant to the students and support them to achieve levels of numeracy and literacy required to function as adults.

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