There was heated debate in the ACT Legislative Assembly (see Hansard of 7 December 2011) over the ACT government decision to abolish one of the two ESL executive teacher positions which provide central support for teachers in government schools. This cut had been opposed by a number of bodies including the Australian Education Union, Parent and Citizens Council and Principals’ Associations.
While all political parties agreed that the need for ESL specialist assistance in ACT schools has increased, how to best meet this need and whether current funding is adequate was hotly disputed. An ACT Liberal motion to retain the ESL executive position was defeated. However, the following Greens’ amendment was accepted that the government:
a) Undertake a review of ESL services including the Language Performance Rating cut off for full and partial support funding, with a view to raising the required level of English proficiency and the professional development and Directorate support services available to teachers;
b) in conducting the review, consult with all relevant community stakeholders as well as ESL classroom teachers and their representatives; and
c) report back to the Assembly by April 2012
Details of how the review will be conducted and how stakeholders will be consulted are not yet available, but arrangements will presumably be put in place swiftly in view of the tight time frame.
If you are a stakeholder in this area and want your voice to be heard, look out for official announcements or contact the Director General of the ACT Directorate of Education, Jim Watterston, for more information. He can be reached via 6207 5111 or at GPO Box 158, Canberra ACT 2601.