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Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Page: 1501


Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (Werriwa) (21:05): The electorate of Werriwa has a significant number of important government school institutions such as Campbell House which, with a very high teacher to student ratio, cares for students who have difficulties going into conventional schools, and Hurlstone Agricultural High School, one of Sydney's prestige government schools, where a former member for Werriwa, Mark Latham, is the president of the parents and citizens group. Another school is the coeducational Macquarie Fields High School, which is another selective high school.

On 15 November I felt very privileged to attend an event there with my state parliamentary colleague Dr Andrew McDonald and Murat Dizdar, the Executive Director of Public Schools NSW. This was for the continuation of a future teachers club. The event commenced with a very impressive address by the school principal Jan Dolstra. She told of her own life trip from Blacktown Girls High School. She was the first person from her family to go to university, having had the benefit of the then existing teachers scholarships. She had an experience that many of us do not have these days. We go to university with many people from the same high school, but she was amongst a very small group from her school to go to university. I think the figure she gave was 37 out of 120 of the first-year students actually completed high school. It is that kind of attitude and thankfulness for public education that drives her agenda.

This group, led by Perry Celestino, an American teacher who has been here for 40 years since the year of the Opera House opening, was created for future teachers. He is another person who is the first from his family in the United States to go to university. From recollection, he is the son of a plumber. What happens there is that students who are interested in going into the profession of teaching undertake class instruction. It was interesting to notice that Yanco Agricultural College from the Riverina came on the day to see what is occurring. Students teach a class, have the experience of teaching, get to know some of the problems, see the interaction of students and teachers, gain a knowledge of subjects and, at the end of the day, look at what they failed and what they would improve on.

It was accompanied by a video where the main star was Dylan Scarborough. I fondly recall when I met him at another students event a few years ago—probably with the member for Macarthur—I asked, as I do of many students, what he wanted to do in life. He said, 'Sit in a big chair in an office like yours in the near future.' So my colleague the member for Macquarie Fields described him as the future local MP for the area. That video showed students actually teaching and practising. But, most importantly, it showed them responding to what had occurred, seeing some of the challenges, understanding how they could improve lessons, and being queried by Dylan about what they thought was wrong with their performance.

Mr Celestino, on the day, received an award for 40 years of teaching, and Gai Lees and Judy Butler received awards for 30 years. The responses of various students were interesting. Sherridan Lown from year 10 said that the process gave her an insight into education to see what it is like as a teacher. Ishan Gupta enjoyed the opportunity to explore teaching as a future profession. Lisa Hannah undertook a maths class, and Katherine Livanis taught a year 9 history. We had the performances on screen and it was indeed impressive. The state executive director of education, Murat Dizdar, is, once again, a person who has had an interesting trip towards education. After studying law he became a teacher. For him, teaching is an occupation that provides an opportunity for everyone to have a fair go in life. He quoted the words of Malala Yousafzai, the young girl shot in Pakistan for her love of education, that education is not just a right but an obligation. I reiterate the impression that this created. This program should not only be in the Werriwa region. It should be a state model to encourage people to go into education and not—as some people have said—to see it as the last option after you do not get into other courses but to see it as a first choice because of the real commitment that it can make to the betterment of society.

Banks Electorate: Community Organisations