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Libs promise tiny little classes

By johnboy 23 July 2008 25

[First filed: July 22, 2008 @ 08:54
Second filing: July 22, 2008 @ 17:50]

They might not actually have a policy about it but that hasn’t stopped the Canberra Liberals making a splash on the ABC and in the Canberra Times promising to cap primary school class sizes at 21 all the way through the primary education system.

The $24 million cost will be funded through “cuts in other areas”, a bad sign for someone.

Whether they can find another 150 teachers at current pay rates also remains to be seen.

Does 21 make that much different to 28 anyway? And is primary school where the most attention is needed?

More on this policy when it’s actually published.

UPDATED: The Chief Minister is having a classic blast at the Liberal policy, pointing to lack of funding, claiming the costing is dodgy, and generally putting in the boot.

Still no sign of the policy on the Canberra Liberals website. There is, however, a sexy big Z. I guess that’s more important.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Still no policy substance, but they did manage to put a lovely slick, simplistic, ad onto WIN News:

Further Update: 24 hours later and they’ve got their ad online and, hooray hooray, have finally published their policy. Key points include:

  • extend the maximum of 21 students per class through all years of primary schools, extending the support given from K-3 right up to year 6 students.
  • delivering training programs that are designed to assist teachers in working effectively with smaller classes.
  • more than restore Labor’s cut to [teacher support] funding with a funding boost of $500,000 this financial year and real annual increases thereafter.
  • restore the 35 high school teaching positions cut by the Stanhope Government in early 2007.
  • create attractive pathways into teaching for mature age professionals who bring valuable skills from outside teaching.
  • provide incentives for high quality graduates to join the ACT government schools system.

One more update for the road: A still incandescent Chief Minister is enraged by the lack of detail for such expensive proposals.

What’s Your opinion?

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Libs promise tiny little classes
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Sass 10:08 pm 24 Aug 08

“The ones that couldn’t read by year 4 never had a chance. I watched them go through each year and they never caught up. Schools can’t deal with that kind of thing.”

Schools can’t deal with this sort of thing…of course they can’t. Why? O.k. well, if someone is in year 4 and ‘can’t read’ (i assume that this sweeping statement means that they are unable to read anywhere near a level acceptable/desirable for their age) they can receive the benefit of ongoing learning assistance in the classroom and/or by being withdrawn for individual and/or small group instruction. They should also have a teacher who can create a learning program in the classroom that is differentiated so that all can learn. They will probably also have been assessed for learning difficulties so that they can be alternatively placed in a ‘learning support class’ or ‘learning support unit’ which have tiny little class sizes already.

However, if a child with acceptable ‘horsepower’ gets to year 4 (say) and ‘cannot read’ then it is likely more to do with extreme absenteeism, being hungry, having behavioural issues, having home-life issues consuming their thoughts at school etc. etc. No school is adequately equipped to deal with the myriad problems/issues/disasters that these children (and their families – let’s not sell our teachers short by pretending it’s just one individual they are dealing with) bring with them to school. Often, to teach a child to read one must first buy him/her a sandwich!

How can teachers/school counsellors possibly address these issues simply by having reduced numbers in their class? They can’t – but it IS a step in the right direction.

VicePope 8:05 pm 25 Jul 08

Did you get any response at all from your management or work cover? Unions can be pretty good at times like this. They tend to understand workplace safety issues.

If it could be classed as whistleblowing, which it probably can, it can be taken up with the relevant agency head, the Auditor-General or the Ombudsman. See the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1994 and the ACT Education guide to it at

Does the ACT version of the Public Service Commission have a role here? (I ask because I do not know). Failing that, there’s a letter to the Minister/Opposition spokesperson.

nyssa76 7:26 pm 25 Jul 08

Yes because taking the piss at an expression is so like ummm….good.

My room’s a fire/safety hazard, I’ve informed the ‘bosses’ and work cover.

Anyone else know where to go on this?

VicePope 9:48 pm 23 Jul 08

Swinging cats! Looxury! We used to dream of swinging cats back at St Misery’s. We only had this old rat, and it was dead. Of starvation. Not that we would have been allowed to swing it – if we did, Sister Mary Sadist would have thrashed us with her rosary from playlunch to big lunch.

Lenient 8:44 pm 23 Jul 08

I suppose not building any Al Grasby statues should pay for this policy. Also the lack of such offending artworks will certainly encourage a deluge of teachers to descend on Canberra.

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