Thursday 15 June 2006



Mr FINCH (Question) - Mr President, my question is to the honourable Leader. Following the inspired appointment of author, Don Watson, as a consultant to the task force on Essential Learnings, has the Government considered using Mr Watson's clear English skills and his ability to weed out weasel words to help improve the language of other government departments?

Mr PARKINSON - I thank the honourable member for his question which has obviously generated considerable interest in this place. On 2 May the Minister for Education announced the establishment of a ministerial task force on reporting to parents. The task force will work with parents, educators and others to make recommendations to the minister on best practice. That is, best practice for reporting to parents on the progress of their children to ensure reports provide all of the information parents want, including academic achievement, attitude and areas for further development; to ensure reports are clear and easy to understand; to ensure student reports help schools and parents to plan for each child's future learning and to report on Essential Learnings into the future.

The Secretary of the Department of Education, John Smyth, will chair the task force and Don Watson will be consultant to the task force. It is important to note that the task force is about more than just the language used in reports. As mentioned, it is also about making sure that reports contain the information that parents want to know. The issue of reporting to parents has been further complicated by the Federal Government's insistence on A to E report cards. Although educationally unsound and widely criticised by parents and teachers alike, we have no choice but to comply due to the threat by the Federal Government to take $80 million from the education system in Tasmania. The task force will work closely with parents to ensure that their needs are met with report cards that are clear, understandable and jargon free.

The issue of whether other government departments have considered using Don Watson is a matter for them. Each department will have its own strategies and ideas about how it can best communicate with its stakeholders and the community in general