Page 40 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 25 February 2014

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Taskforce on students with learning difficulties—progress report

Statement by minister

MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Disability, Children and Young People, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Women, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Racing and Gaming), by leave: I am very pleased to report to the Assembly on the progress towards implementation of recommendations of the Taskforce on Students with Learning Difficulties.

My report to the Assembly responds to the motion passed in the Assembly that I report here in February 2014 on progress towards implementation. Members of the Assembly will recall that the task force was established to provide the Minister for Education and Training with recommendations for assessment and support for children and young people in ACT public schools with learning difficulties.

The final report of the task force was submitted in 2013. The report identified 14 strategies under three key recommendations: a consistent, systemic approach; building staff capacity; and building partnerships with families. The ACT government has agreed to all of those recommendations.

In September of last year a full-time project officer was appointed for a 12-month period to support the implementation of the recommendations of the task force. I draw members’ attention to the covering message from the chair of the task force, Ms Irene Lind. The message from her was:

The recommendations and strategies presented in this report provide a strong clearly articulated direction to build on the already high standard of professional practice in ACT public schools.

The message provides advice that:

… the recommendations emphasise the need for all teachers and school leaders to develop and demonstrate understanding and knowledge to meet the needs of students with learning difficulties.

In response to this clear message from the task force, the focus has since been on acceptance of the recommendations and implementing quality professional learning that will give our teachers the skills and understanding to support students with learning difficulties.

The task force also noted that students who are gifted and talented and who also have learning difficulties were not identified in the directorate’s gifted and talented policy. The task force suggested that the inclusion of how to meet the needs of these students in the policy acknowledges that learning difficulties are apparent across a range of students. I can report to the Assembly that this action is now complete.

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