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Wednesday, 19 March 1997
Page: 2494

Mr PRICE(7.28 p.m.) —Some honourable members may be aware that I have made a speech regarding the higher school certificate performance of Mount Druitt High School and the notorious publication of a photo. I am pleased to say that the report into Mount Druitt High School, Review of 1996 Higher School Certificate Performance , by Dr Alan Laughlin has now been completed. I said at the time that I would put into the marketplace yet again the idea that we really needed to look at a senior high school for Mount Druitt with feeder year 7 to 10 students. I have been criticised locally for this, so I want to refer to some of the remarks made in the report. Dr Laughlin says,

The structure of secondary education in Mount Druitt is extremely fragile.

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The creation of the nearby St Marys Senior High School has been a clear success.

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Given the apparently tenuous nature of secondary education provisions it is important that a wider analysis quickly occur to ensure that the current situation does not just "struggle on".

I would like to give the House some interesting figures. There are five public high schools in Mount Druitt. The total enrolment of years 11 and 12 students for those high schools was 668. The equivalent enrolment for years 11 and 12 for St Marys Senior High School was 808 students. I happen to agree with Dr Laughlin's suggestion that the 55-student enrolment in year 12 means that Mount Druitt High School really is not a comprehensive high school.

I must say that I have always argued that a senior high school provides students with greater subject choice, greater choice for those who want to go on to tertiary education, greater choice to see the world of work as their goal and greater choice in vocational training. Among the 55 students in year 12, 46 subjects were taken. If you just divide that one figure into the other, you can come to some understanding that there must have been some very low class numbers.

I have always said—I say with great respect—to the Teachers Federation that they need to understand that teaching resources are precious resources. We cannot afford to have them squandered, particularly when the issue of aggregation of those numbers and greater productivity and outcomes are available to them. I am indebted to the Laughlin report because I had forgotten—shame on me for having forgotten, because I was part of the handover process—that there will be two new senior high schools in the Nirimba educational precinct: one is Catholic and the other is a public senior high school, which is coming on-line in 1998.

This is going to further exacerbate the problem. Indeed, there will be an Anglican high school established in Oakhurst and that again will exacerbate the problem. For example, at Mount Druitt High School, it is expected that the enrolments will decline in the year 2002 to 43 students in year 12 and, with the opening of the other schools, it may in fact decline to 30 to 35. Clearly, something needs to be done. I have suggested that we need to look at a senior high school—not as a total response to the problem but as part of the response that we need to make.

The report makes 10 recommendations. The first, I guess, and most important, is that there needs to be a wider assessment of the demographic, structural and educational needs of the high schools and their feeder primary schools in Mount Druitt. I support that. I say to any parent or any teacher that not only am I prepared to come out and discuss the issue but that I am also absolutely delighted to send a copy of the Laughlin report to them should they require it.