ESTIMATES COMMITTEE B (Hon David Bartlett – Minister for Education)

Wednesday 28 June 2006

Mr FINCH - It was pleasing to hear, minister, you get on to the subject of sport prompted by Mr Dean's question because I have looked here through pages 39 to 84 and there are only two mentions of sport, and that was on page 45 where it made a reference to the Kingston school.

CHAIR - That is just because it is being built in the precinct.

Mr FINCH - It is being built in a sports precinct and the mention is there of sport. It is the only mention of sport. On the subject of child obesity, fitness and sport, which are all a little bit related, I note that the Move Well, Eat Well project, the Fit and Healthy Kids and the essential activity policy are mentioned. They are all very catchy phrases, but I am not satisfied that we are doing enough to keep kids fit and to encourage them to be involved in sport and to continue in sport after leaving the education system. I would like to have an understanding of your stance on school policy in respect of sport. Are you planning any changes?

Mr BARTLETT - Can I start by saying that I think yours and my view on this would be very similar because I see physical activity, engagement in sport, teamwork and a whole range of issues that go with that as fundamental to the importance of the development of our kids. It is interesting that many of those people who have been most critical of Essential Learnings, for example, are also the ones calling for more physical activity. But they fail to recognise that for the first time in the history of Tasmanian schools we have said that maintaining wellbeing is essential to Tasmanian kids. It is one of the number of items that we say - along with maths, English and literacy and numeracy - is essential. That is the first time in history. I would say that at least we are setting values at a very high level of making sure we know what is important so that it adds to the system and the learners will know what is important. That is at the outset.

Other initiatives which I have already talked about, engaging schools, clubs and those sorts of things will go a long way towards this, and other programs like our Move Well, Eat Well and school sport promotion. For example, there is $175 000 in this Budget going into support of school sport. I acknowledge also the Australian government's contribution to after-school activities there. There is going to be a forum for sport associations to recommend the best use of this extra Budget money as well.

I want to add that schools are a microcosm of the wider community. We cannot solve all problems but we can have an impact on them. This story might not sound it relates but it relates very clearly. A parent said to me the other day, 'You should ban girls wearing make-up in your State schools.' I said, 'I am not entirely opposed to that but why?' She said, 'My daughter refuses to take the make-up off when I tell her to, so your school should tell her to take the make-up off instead.' I was flattened by this comment because to me it was a classic abrogation of our duty as parents to discipline, guide and lead our kids but it was an outsourcing of that responsibility directly to the school. It said, 'I cannot discipline my kid or I cannot stop my kid from wearing make-up but I fully expect your teachers to do it.' She was quite angry about it.

I think this relates very much to sport. The application of sport and activity and kids in engagement with it is a societal issue. Schools have a significant role to play in providing the programs, resources and the opportunities for kids, which I believe they do in many cases. Of course we can always improve, but the wider community and particularly parents have a significant role to play in this as well.

CHAIR - We will start with Mr Finch progressing this after lunch. I would hope that we can conclude output group 1 in 30 minutes or so when we return. I will adjourn the sitting until 2 o'clock.

CHAIR - Mr Finch, you were in the process of talking about sports issues.

Mr FINCH - Minister, I am happy for you to take this on notice, but I want to know how many physical education teachers there are in the State public education system. I also would not mind getting a handle on just how much time they spend in the classroom on aspects other than physical education or the education side of what they do at school. In other words, they are used as classroom teachers and then they are trained as an add-on. Many years ago when the focus changed away from sport in schools, the physical education teachers then went into classrooms and were used that way part-time and then subsequently their jobs disappeared and they became pastoral teachers. I would really like to get a handle on that because we have human movement students being trained at the University of Tasmania. Is there a career path and a job for them? Is that position still viable?

Mr BARTLETT - I am sure we can get some data on that by the end of the day. I am a bit disappointed that we are back at 2 p.m. because I was planning on getting out to see the Bowen Road versus Lansdowne Crescent primary schools footy match this afternoon -

Mr FINCH - Oh!

Mr BARTLETT - You could have come with me, Mr Finch, but I am afraid we have missed it.

CHAIR - That was the last of your questions, Mr Finch.