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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 29 October 2015) . . Page.. 3862 ..

The results of the focus groups with parents indicated a majority of participants thought uniforms were an important part of a school’s pride and identity and they would support their introduction. Participants indicated that the lack of uniform affects the community’s perception of our public high schools. Dress standards are a visible representation of the standards expected of our students. A school’s dress standard plays an important role in promoting a positive image of that school.

Take, for example, Belconnen High School, where the principal says his students now hold their heads high when receiving awards at ceremonies where students from other schools are present. Further, he says that his students are now being photographed by the local media at these ceremonies where this did not occur previously. At Gold Creek School the principal reports that student conduct has improved greatly and that the uniform engenders a sense of belonging and ownership of the school and a responsibility towards it.

I am confident that the move to more traditional school uniforms will have a positive effect as these are adopted across our ACT schools.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.

MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, how has the community reacted to this announcement?

MS BURCH: I thank Ms Fitzharris for her interest in this. The reaction from the community to date has been very positive. Over the past year I have had the opportunity to raise this at school P&C meetings, with teachers and principals and with individual parents and students. Every time I do there has been strong support for the idea and recognition that the value of school uniforms has been promoting a strong and cohesive school identity. Principals in particular have mentioned to me the great impact that implementing a school uniform has had on the behaviour and attitudes of their students.

As I mentioned previously, at Belconnen High School and Gold Creek school both principals have reported a strong turnaround in their cultures and students themselves have, indeed, embraced the uniform and the idea. The design of those more traditional uniforms has come from the school bodies themselves. Principals and teachers tell me students now identify more strongly with their school communities and have a great sense of pride.

These personal interactions are supported by the research we have undertaken. A survey of parents found that 81 per cent support the introduction of a more traditional uniform, and the vast majority thought they played an important part in the school identity. Whilst I have mentioned Gold Creek and Belconnen, back in September when I made this announcement I was very proudly at Calwell High School where the students there were demonstrating the new school uniform that will be in place for them in their school community come next year.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

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