Page 4650 - Week 12 - Thursday, 1 November 2018

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Literacy and numeracy in our schools are important. One of the particular issues that the ACT government through the Education Directorate has implemented in our schools is a program with the expert advice, work and knowledge of Christine Topfer, a literacy expert from Tasmania. She has been working across our schools to embed literacy in different kinds of ways in our schools and also providing numeracy as leaders projects for our school principals. The majority of our school principals have now been through—(Time expired.)

MS LEE: Minister, what is that program that you are developing with Christine Topfer, and how will you measure the success of your initiatives to improve literacy and numeracy in our schools?

MS BERRY: I can provide some more detail on the work that is being done with Christine Topfer. Christine Topfer is well known for her work in schools and improving literacy outcomes in schools. Certainly, from a quality perspective, when I have visited schools that have implemented programs through the work of people who use the programs that Christine Topfer has recommended, their PIPS results have improved by up to 300 per cent. A good example of that work was at Kingsford Smith School. Kingsford Smith School was discussed during estimates hearings recently. I can refer Ms Lee to the discussion that was conducted there around the results at Kingsford Smith School and the particular program that has been implemented there.

MR PARTON: Minister, why are our students performing worse now than they were 15 years ago, given the five reports that prove this to be the case?

MS BERRY: Our schools have always been the highest performing schools in the country and it is the case that now other schools in the country have been catching up to the high-performing schools that exist here in the ACT. Madam Speaker, I—and I know you did when you were education minister as well—celebrate the success and the holistic approach that our schools take to education in the ACT.

ACTION bus service—school services

MS LAWDER: My question is to the Minister for Transport. Minister, with a backdrop of reports of men approaching students at and near schools over a period of months, if students have to use the normal bus network and regular buses rather than dedicated school buses, what confidence can parents have that children will be safe using buses to and from school?

MS FITZHARRIS: I will ignore the dog whistle that is evident in Mrs Lawder’s question and remind her that those approaches—and I congratulate ACT Policing on the formation of their task force on this—which have very swiftly been responded to, are happening now, when there are dedicated school buses. And next year there will also be dedicated school buses. I know that families in our community, including many of us here, have young children and older children travelling to and from school every day. I utterly reject the pretty grubby dog whistle in Mrs Lawder’s question.

Ms Lawder: Ms Lawder, thank you.

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