Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 1 May 1991
Parliamentary Record 3
Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES - Wednesday 1 May 1991 However, .if the' parents can maintain their current level of interest in their children's education, the outcomes will not be entirely negative. Whilst I agree with the parents that it will be difficult for the students to go to a new school, which will be bigger and which will be strange to them at first, that can also be an opportunity, particularly if the parents take a positive attitude. I have spoken to the minister about how the department will handle the matter. I understand that the children from Traeger Park Primary School will be distributed among a number of primary schools, and it would be helpful if, say for the last month of this year, teachers from Traeger Park Primary School who will be transferring to particular schools spend considerable time with children who will be attending those same schools. Thus, when the children arrive in their new schools next year, they will be able to relate to one of those teachers as well as some other children from Traeger Park Primary School. I believe that that will help the transition. I know that the minister is sympathetic to that viewpoint. We said virtually the same thing to one another on the plane travelling to Alice Springs last Wednesday, and I believe that it would be a positive step. If the parents take a greater interest, we ought to capitalise on that, particularly in relation to regular attendance at school. There is nothing more soul-destroying for a teacher than having children who stay away from school intermittently. When children are away for several days a week, you cannot give them a decent education. I will certainly be putting that view in my electorate newsletter, and I may or may not win support for it among the parents. On the day before the ERC announcements, the minister and I discussed the situation in respect of school closures. He swore me to secrecy and I kept that confidence. We discussed the various Alice Springs situations and, unfortunately, Traeger Park Primary School was the logical school to go if there had to be cuts. It is right in my electorate and I would much rather that it had been in somebody else's. However, I will wear that. I believe that we have to make the best of the situation which has been forced on us by economic constraints and the mess that we are in. Whilst people tend to blame that mess on the federal Labor government and Mr Keating, I blame it on the banking system. Honourable members may have heard my comments about that yesterday and I will keep hammering away until, perhaps, some honourable members will appreciate the situation. I am sure that some are already realising that there is something wrong in that regard. I do have particular concern for the Alice Springs children in Year 6 this year. They will be in Year 7 next year and, as a result of the ERC recommendations, they will spend that year in high school. Therefore, they will miss out on what I believe is a very important experience in many children's lives - that of being in the top year of primary school. There is nothing that can be done about it. If you happen to be in the first class in a new school, you remain in the top year all the way through, as occurred in my daughter's case at St Philips College. She has been in that leadership group throughout her life at primary school and that has been a great experience for her. Unfortunately, however, children who are in Year 6 in Alice Springs this year will miss out on that opportunity. That is unfortunate because it is a grand experience. I believe that most of us can remember the sensation of being in that leadership role in the top year of primary school. The sensation soon disappears when one goes in at the bottom of the pile at high school, but it is a matter of some regret that those children will miss out. 824
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