Territory Stories

Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 3 March 1992



Debates Day 1 - Tuesday 3 March 1992

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Parliamentary Record 9


Debates for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Tuesday 3 March 1992 would be wasted as schools were forced to close because a new school had been funded to open next door. Mr Stone: What have you got against competition? Mr STIRLING: I have nothing against competition, but it has to have a sensible rational approach. Doubling the capital grants program, as the Liberals propose, would have a minimal impact on the shocking wastage of school facilities caused by the abolition of the New Schools Policy. To me, the most frightening aspect of this document is the concept of payment by results. This is a wonderful, elitist idea. An institution, in an affluent community, with strong parental support and home environments conducive to learning, with higher educational outcomes, will be rewarded more highly perhaps than a school in a lower socioeconomic area. These schools are already rewarded with devolution, to their advantage, but we are to go a step further. The Alawas and Paraps will gain increased funding each year whilst the Yuendumus and the Galiwinkus will lose funding each year. I note that they will not be able to fall below a set floor level, and that is generous of the minister. I wonder what the floor level for these schools will be set at and I wonder how a school, such as those at Kintore or Galiwinku, faced with falling funding each year, could even begin to pull itself up. Apparently, that is of no concern to either the minister or the government. There is a recurring theme as well on assessment, and there is no doubt that this will feature prominently on the education agenda for the next few years, regardless of which party is in power in Canberra. I agree that parents and employers are frustrated with the vague and general reports that come from schools, but the minister suggests that no testing and no assessment at all is carried out in our schools. Certainly, when I taught at Nhulunbuy Area School and Nhulunbuy Primary School, it was common practice to carry out diagnostic testing at frequent intervals. These tests informed a teacher where a student's weaknesses were or if a concept had not gotten through, and indicated that there might be a need to re-teach some material or re-explain a concept, perhaps utilising a different teaching strategy. I believe that form of testing is carried out in our schools regularly as a normal part of good teaching practice. What the Coalition wants is a battery of testing in a highly-competitive environment to ensure the system obtains its share of healthy failures. That serves to reinforce the esteem and confidence of the brightest and quickest, and ensures that failure and defeat is branded on those who have struggled with the curriculum. Such testing does not provide the teacher, the student or the parent with any real advice as to where the student may be having difficulty. Either you do well, you do average or you do poorly. A raw score that informs no more than that, rewards the bright and condemns and cripples the slower learner. On the other side of the coin, the minister tells us that gifted children are disadvantaged, and I have no difficulty agreeing with him. The Northern Territory philosophy of education is to allow each student to maximise his or her potential. In the area of the gifted and talented, the Northern Territory system fails as badly as does any state system of education in Australia, and I will quote an example. In Alawa Primary School, a transition student was detected by the teacher as being pretty quick off the mark. The student's family moved to Palmerston. The student attended Driver Primary School, entering at Year 1. After 3 or 4 days of settling in and teacher observation, the 4013

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