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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 7268

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services) (9:45 AM) —On 7 May I was honoured to host a visit by the Speaker, Harry Jenkins, to two schools in my electorate. One of them, Granville Boys High School, is an area where we are seeing major efforts being made in the public education system against enormous odds. I congratulate Principal Linda O’Brien and Hala Maaliki, the chair of the parent and citizens group. I note the amount of work that has been done by the teaching and school community there. I note especially the instigation of new school uniforms, the arrangement of buses to take students directly from the school to their homes and the emphasis upon business connection with the Australian Business Community Network, KPMG, Microsoft and the Shell refinery.

The latest newsletter from the school typifies an attempt to make sure that the school community, many from a non-English-speaking background, are informed about things such as the NAPLAN. I also note the effort to ensure that students have some say in the process. Work has been done by Professor Susan Groundwater-Smith and Dr Kris Needham in consulting the students themselves in focus groups about school safety and respectful learning.

This is a school where 75 per cent of students are of Arabic extraction and there are significant numbers of Turks, islanders and Africans. It is a school where we have seen massive efforts made with regard to moots, with great success recently. I recognise Arshad Guliyara for his role recently in shadowing the school education director; Gehan Tuameh, the state SRC conference representative; and Saad Pareku as a school ambassador—all typical of a very strong involvement of the students in the community. I also note that recently there has been executive training with regard to laptop installation, a language usage laboratory coming on-stream and three science laboratories.

The school makes sure that these students get a real opportunity outside their normal expectations—recently conducting a Narrabeen camp for year 7. We have had the instigation of peer tutoring at Granville TAFE college to make sure that this school is able to give the full complement of efforts to people.

It is a school very challenged by the tribalisation of Australian education into very narrow schools; it is challenged by the instigation of selective schools, which means that students are sometimes denied the highest possible level of studies because of a lack of students in those areas. But this really does represent an effort by the teachers and the school community to make sure that, through public education, children are given an opportunity in an area of socioeconomic deprivation. Without this effort by the teachers and the community I really do believe that it would be a very much greater challenge for the students.