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Thursday, 27 May 2004
Page: 29420

Mrs GASH (9:43 AM) —A couple of weeks ago I was privileged to visit the Illaroo Road Public School in my electorate of Gilmore. Not only is Illaroo Road Public School a school of some 540 students but it is a school with excellent teachers, students who really care about each other and parents who are proud of both the children and the staff at their school. Having said that, the reason I speak about them in the House today is that, at the invitation of Dr Rosie Wade, I spoke with the year 6 classes of 6J, 6W, 6F and 5-6K—about 103 students in all. Their topic was state and federal governments.

It is not often as a polly that I am lost for words, but these young students blew me away with their questions and knowledge of the role of government, both state and federal. There were many questions. What is a term in government? How do you as a member of a party get a vote or a say in parliament? How do you become a member of a political party? And for 1½ hours the questions came, and all required very personal and honest answers. I am often asked why I chose to become a polly. The visit to Illaroo Road Public School is one such answer. What makes it even more rewarding is that at least 10 per cent of the students wanted to become politicians of the future. Illaroo Road Public School will be visiting Parliament House in the near future. Hopefully, parliament will be sitting so that year 6 will have an opportunity to personally meet some of us on both sides of the House.

On a different note, it was of interest to see just how these students work. Dr Wade's class operates on a system of contractual homework—that is, over a six- to 10-week period, set works are given with various choices, allowing the students to do independent studies with an ability to control their own time management and to explore in-depth their own set pieces of homework. They also make up board games and word games, based on such games as Parliament Unwrapped and Government Galore. Not only is Illaroo Road Public School a school to be proud of but it also happens to be in the street where I live, so you can see that I, too, am very proud of its reputation and, in particular, the students of years 5 and 6. It was a real eye-opener for me to see first-hand how these students work but, what is more, they are actually enjoying the work in politics.