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Thursday, 18 October 1984
Page: 2029


Senator REID(10.30) —I refer briefly tonight to a problem which has arisen in relation to enrolments at one of the schools in the Australian Capital Territory. It is the Telopea Park School which has a French- Australian program available from the first year of kindergarten until year 10. It is a new program which has been at the school during this year, the French- Australian program prior to that time having been at the Red Hill Primary School . The matter which has been brought to my attention relates to enrolments in the kindergarten class for 1985. Several parents have contacted me who have had their children at the Red Hill Primary School's pre-school and who expected to be able to send them to the next stage of the French-Australian program at the Telopea Park School. They now believe that they will not be able to get their children enrolled in that program. I understand that although there are three kindergarten classes, each of 16 students, 40 children wish to enrol for 1985 but only 20 places are available.

What is causing concern to some of the parents is that the procedure laid down for enrolment for next year, which is to take place on Monday next, 22 October, is apparently to be on the basis of first come first served. That may sound quite reasonable but apparently people are planning to camp at the school overnight to ensure that their children will be able to enrol. Altogether the prospects for the event are rather nasty indeed and undignified to say the least . It may well be that if there is a shortage of places enrolment should be by some sort of ballot arrangement. I would have thought that perhaps there would be some sort of priority for those who have been attending the pre-school at Red Hill. It may be that even then there will be more students than there are places . However, the prospects at present are not a very satisfactory way of resolving how enrolments will work out for next year. There is a suggestion that if the class size were increased from 16 to 22 all the children who wish to enrol would be able to do so. However, I draw the matter to the attention of the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs (Senator Ryan). I have sent her a letter referring to the matter but I think that perhaps she should give it her attention tomorrow as this event may take place on Monday. It looks as though there will be about twice as many people as can expect to get enrolments. It is a matter that perhaps should be looked into and defused before it occurs. I hope that tomorrow the Minister will find time to give it her attention.