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Monday, 6 December 2004
Page: 105


Senator CARR (8:35 PM) —by leave—I move opposition amendments (4) and (7) on sheet 4459:

(4) Page 19 (after line 21), after clause 14, insert:

14A Principles for reporting on students' learning and school performance

For the purposes of subsections 14(1) and (2), including but not limited to the reporting requirements in paragraphs 14(1)(c), (d), (e), (n), (p) and (r) and related paragraphs 19(3)(d), (e) and (f), the agreement must include reporting on students' learning and schools' performance that is consistent with the following principles:

(a) reporting by schools to parents and to the community must always be in the educational interests of students;

(b) information from school reports is to provide assistance to schools and to teachers to inquire into students' learning needs and to develop teaching programs for those students;

(c) reporting by schools on students' learning must include a comprehensive range of information of related factors that includes:

(i) the total resources available to each school from all sources;

(ii) enrolment policies and practices, including information on the enrolment of indigenous students and students with disabilities;

(iii) student admission and exclusion policies and practices;

(iv) qualifications and accreditation standings of teaching staff;

(v) curriculum offerings at the school; and

(vi) policies and programs for student discipline and welfare, anti-bullying and child protection;

(d) the content and format of school reports are to be developed following consultation with parents and school community organisations.

(7) Page 32 (after line 28), after clause 31, insert:

31A Principles for reporting on students' learning and school performance

For the purposes of section 31, including but not limited to the reporting requirements in paragraphs 31(1) (c), (d), (e), (n), (p) and (r) and related paragraphs 36(3)(d), (e) and (f), the agreement must include reporting on students' learning and schools' performance that is consistent with the following principles:

(a) reporting by schools to parents and to the community must always be in the educational interests of students;

(b) information from school reports is to provide assistance to schools and to teachers to inquire into students' learning needs and to develop teaching programs for those students;

(c) reporting by schools on students' learning must include a comprehensive range of information of related factors that includes:

(i) the total resources available to each school from all sources;

(ii) enrolment policies and practices, including information on the enrolment of Indigenous students and students with disabilities;

(iii) student admission and exclusion policies and practices;

(iv) qualifications and accreditation standings of teaching staff;

(v) curriculum offerings at the school; and

(vi) policies and programs for student discipline and welfare, anti-bullying and child protection;

(d) the content and format of school reports are to be developed following consultation with parents and school community organisations.

These amendments deal with the same questions that have been dealt with previously by the Democrats and the Greens on the question of accountability. These amendments, however, provide for a broader framework. They allow for the educational integrity of reporting and accountability provisions in the bill to be strengthened and are based on that fundamental principle that the purpose of accountability is to improve student learning.

The amendments also establish a range of information that should be made available to access the validity of school performance, increased resources, teaching staff, curriculum and student welfare programs. They also establish that parents as well as teachers should be involved in the design, content and format of reporting to parents and the community. All of us here who are parents will know the frustration of trying to read a school report. As a former teacher, I also know the frustration of having to write them and know that many of the reports do end up looking much the same, irrespective of the performance of students. I do think there is a legitimate case for the Commonwealth to seek to provide some assistance in this matter by specifying areas in which reporting should comply and where there should be improvements in the formatting of reports. But, finally, the decision about the structure of reports ought to rest with the school community and come out of discussions between teachers and parents on the content and formatting of such reports so that they are meaningful for people who have to read them. It is my experience that that is not always the case at the moment.