Page 4090 - Week 13 - Thursday, 31 October 2013

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Furthermore, there is significant criticism that some teaching institutions are not responding to this issue either and are continuing to rely on only one method of teaching children to read rather than ensuring teaching graduates are armed with the full range of strategies to teach not just children who find reading easy but also children who find reading very difficult. Skills to teach children with learning difficulties should not be restricted to just a small group of specialist teachers, given that learning difficulties are so prevalent across Australian classrooms.

The third area of focus was building partnerships with families. Families are crucial in this debate. It is families that will help support children with learning difficulties to get the assistance they need, but also to improve outcomes for them.

Clause 3(a) of the motion call on the ACT government to integrate the recommendations and strategies from the task force report into any review of the ACT’s literacy and numeracy strategy, the current version of which ends this year. I have to say that any effort for that document to be a little more specific and targeted than its predecessor would be welcome.

As I indicated, the government has broadly responded favourably to this report. I would like to acknowledge the positive action taken by Dr Bourke in establishing the task force and Minister Burch for the directorate’s genuine engagement on this issue. However, it will be the detail of how the recommendations and strategies are implemented that will make the difference for students with learning difficulties in the ACT.

The directorate indicated that it would keep the minister updated with quarterly reports of progress over the next 12 months. Clause 3(b) of my motion calls for the government to provide the Assembly with an update in February 2014. That is a reasonable time frame for us to receive some meaningful information about implementation, as well being timely with the start of the new school year.

Staff from my office attended the launch of SPELD ACT last week. SPELD stands for specific learning difficulties. SPELD ACT is the newest branch in Australia of the not-for-profit organisation that provides information and services to children and adults. I would like to congratulate them on their launch and wish them well supporting the families of the ACT.

One of the remarks made at the launch was that it is not that children with learning difficulties cannot learn to read; it is that they need to be taught differently. So the question for us is: why are we not doing it? That is the task at hand, and I look forward to hearing from the minister and the directorate about how they progress with that challenge. I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (11.31): I am delighted to speak on this motion today because it provides an opportunity to resolve in my mind some really conflicting issues regarding Mr Rattenbury’s role. I recognise that the five years I have spent in this place have all been within the confines of opposition and, as we all know, opposition members are on the first floor. So I cannot pretend to know or understand

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