B3 Legislative Assembly committee inquiries and reports

The Standing Committee on Education, Training and Youth Affairs (the Standing Committee) and the Select Committee on Estimates 2010-11 (the Select Committee) conduct inquiries and prepare reports on issues relevant to operational and strategic functions of the Department of Education and Training (the Department).

The Standing Committee is currently holding an inquiry into Needs of ACT Students with a Disability. The ACT Government provided a submission to the inquiry in November 2009.

The Committee finalised and tabled the following three reports relating to the Department during 2009-10.

Report 2: School closures and reform of the ACT education system 2006 Presented 17 September 2009

Report 3: Inquiry into the Educational Achievement Gap in the ACT Presented 6 May 2010

Report 4: Report on Annual and Financial Reports 2008-2009 Presented 6 May 2010

ACT Government responses to Committee reports are available at http://www.parliament.act.gov.au.

The Select Committee finalised and tabled one report during 2009-10, the Appropriation Bill 2010-2011. The report was presented on 22 June 2010.

Standing Committee on Education, Training and Youth Affair

Report 1: Report on Annual and Financial Reports 2007-2008

Presented 9 May 2009

The ACT Government response to theReport on Annual and Financial Reports 2007-2008 was provided to the Assembly on 15 October 2009. The Department responded to two of the six recommendations.


Recommendation number

Government response

Departmental implementation

1.The committee recommends that the ACT Building and Construction Industry Training Fund Authority provide comparative energy, waste and greenhouse gas data in each successive annual report.

Agreed

The ACT Building and Construction Industry Training Fund Authority provided the required information in their 2008-09 report.

2. The committee recommends that the ACT Government advise the committee of all classes in all public schools where the individual class size is above 21 students.

Agreed

The ACT Government provided the information about class sizes in the government response.

Report 2: School closures and reform of the ACT education system

Presented 17 September 2009

The ACT Government response to the inquiry into School closures and reform of the ACT education system 2006 was tabled on 14 December 2009.

The Department responded to seven of the 15 recommendations. A summary of these recommendations is provided below.

Recommendation number

Government response

Departmental implementation

7. The committee recommends that the consultation period of at least six months be maintained for individual school closures as set out in Section 20 of the Education Act 2004 and that consultation should incorporate a social impact study.

Agreed in part

Section 20(b) of the Act requires a six-month consultation period. Social impacts are a requirement as per section 20(5) (a) of the Act. As required under the Act, social impact was considered during the extensive consultation.

9. The committee recommends that the Minister for Education undertake a social impact assessment of the Towards 2020 reform process and report back to the Legislative Assembly on the findings. The social impact assessment should document the social impacts that have occurred as a consequence of the Towards 2020 implementation process and establish whether mitigation strategies deployed have been adequate.

Agreed in part

Social impact studies were undertaken during the extensive consultation. The Department supported affected students and their families by providing $750 transition assistance payment.

From 2006-07, $3.5 million over four years was allocated by the ACT Government to support closing and receiving schools, the re-allocation of special education units and other programs.

11. The committee recommends that the Department ensures that primary school boards with governance responsibilities for amalgamated preschools include a member of the Preschool Parents Association.

Noted

The Department encourages all school boards to nominate a preschool parent to be a board appointed nominee.

12. The committee recommends that the ACT Government include, as part of the social impact assessment to be undertaken, the effect of preschool closures on the operation and viability of playgroups in the ACT.

Noted

The Department works closely with the ACT Playgroups Association to undertake analysis into short and long-term demand for playgroups and to facilitate access to available preschool units.

In addition, the old Scullin Preschool site at the Southern Cross Early Childhood School and the Nimbin Street Preschool site at the Narrabundah Early Childhood School have been kept as outpost sites for playgroups.

13. The committee recommends that, based on the demographic, educational, social and economic evidence presented during the inquiry, that the Government immediately commences the process to reopen the Hall and Tharwa Primary Schools.

Noted

The Department supports viable early childhood settings including playgroups, preschool access for three year-olds, expanded preschool hours and access to full-time preschool programs at Hall and Tharwa.

The Hall preschool program currently has 10 four year-old children and five three year-old children enrolled.

The Tharwa preschool program currently has 15 four year-old children enrolled. There are no three year-old children enrolled.

The Government also permits registered non-government education providers to use part of the Hall site for educational purposes, subject to existing registration processes.

14. The committee recommends that data about school capacity be regularly reviewed by the Department and provided to each public school and the school community for endorsement. Where this data is disputed by the school or the community of interest, an independent review process should be established to resolve perceived discrepancies to the satisfaction of the school and the Department.

Noted

School capacity is reviewed annually and school enrolment data is reviewed twice-yearly and published in the ACT school census in February and August of each year.

The enrolment data is subject to intense scrutiny and is audited annually for February census.

Schools provide enrolment data to their communities via the school board annual report.

15. The committee recommends that the Department undertake, and make publicly available, research on the educational outcomes for students relocated in ACT public schools as a consequence of the Towards 2020 restructure.

Not agreed

The educational progress of individual students is monitored at the school level and communicated to parents and carers on a regular basis. Individual student outcomes remain a matter for parents, carers, students and teachers involved, and are not a matter for the general public.

Report 3: Inquiry into the Educational Achievement Gap in the ACT

Presented 6 May 2010

The Government response to the report on the Inquiry into the Educational Achievement Gap in the ACT will be provided to the Assembly in the 2010-11 reporting period. Details of the response will therefore be included in the Department's 2010-11 annual report.

Report 4: Report on Annual and Financial Reports 2008-2009

Presented 6 May 2010

The ACT Government response to the Report on Annual and Financial Reports 2008-2009 will be provided to the Assembly in the 2010-11 reporting period. Details of the response will therefore be included in the Department's 2010-11 annual report.

Select Committee on Estimates 2010-2011

Appropriation Bill 2010-2011

Presented 22 June 2010

The Select Committee inquiry into Appropriation Bill 2010-2011 provided a report with 47 recommendations on a wide range of issues. The ACT Government response, which was tabled on 29 June 2010, agreed to 19 recommendations, agreed in principle to four recommendations, agreed in part to one recommendation, noted 17 recommendations, and did not agree to six recommendations.

The Department has responsibility for three of the committee's recommendations. The short time between the tabling of the Government response and the end of the reporting period did not allow for progress to be made against the recommendations.

Recommendation

Government response

27. The committee recommends that the Department develop accountability indicators which can measure the views of the principal users of public education services: students and parents/carers.

Agreed in principle

28. The committee recommends that future budget papers include accountability measures and outcome targets for the Productivity Places Program.

Agreed

29. The committee recommends that the Department and Corrections ACT partner to ensure the provision of adult education and vocational training packages which best establish opportunities for the restoration of detainees of the Alexander Maconochie Centre back into the community.

Agreed

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