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Education Amendment Bill (No 2) First Reading

14 December 2000 Hon Trevor Mallard Speech Notes

I move that the Education Amendment Bill (No 2) 2000 be now read a first time.

I intend to refer the bill to the Education and Science Select Committee with an instruction to report the bill to the House by April 27 2001.

This bill focuses on improving standards in education and enhancing student safety in schools.

Improving outcomes for our students requires both a capable teaching profession and strong, well supported, schools and early childhood education providers. The bill demonstrates this Governments commitment to both of these.

It is unfortunately common for us to read and hear stories about unpleasant and dangerous events that have happened to students while in a school or educational institution. Such events are not new. However with a more decentralised system it is time to upgrade the safeguards that we have in place to ensure student safety.

The Bill that I introduce tonight has three major elements that will provide greater surety to students.

They are:
 A provision to regulate school hostels.
 A mandatory code of practice for the care of international students.
 An Education Council which will be responsible for conducting police checks on all employees – teachers and non-teachers – who work in schools or early childhood services. The council will also be able to investigate complaints of misconduct. And the bill has a provision requiring the mandatory reporting of complaints of misconduct.

The council will also be the vehicle for enhancing teacher professionalism.

Another important aspect of raising standards is the changes in this bill to school reporting requirements. The requirement for schools to have a charter will be replaced by a requirement to have an annually updated school plan. The plan will be a more structured and supported document in which school boards will set out their objectives and targets. These objectives and targets will include student achievement.

This bill also promotes changes to improve the help available to poorly performing schools through increasing the range of interventions available.

We need to ensure that there are interventions available before we get to the "ambulance at the bottom of the cliff" stage. This bill allows a range of graduated interventions to address the problems of poorly managed schools. The threshold for intervening in a poorly managed school will change so that we can prevent problems instead of only picking up the pieces.

Again, in schools and our tertiary institutions, this bill focuses on safety and standards.

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