WOODBERRY LEARNING CENTRE
Mr FRANK TERENZINI
(Maitland) [8.29 p.m.]: I bring to the attention of the House the Woodberry Learning Centre, a new school opened in the Woodberry district of my electorate. It was formally opened by the Minister for Education and Training, the Hon. John Della Bosca MLC, on 29 October 2007. I had the pleasure of attending the school on that day. Together with the Minister and the Mayor of Maitland, we formally opened the centre. The Woodberry Learning Centre is a centre for school children with behavioural difficulties or special needs. I am talking about a jointly funded project. It is one of those occasions—I am sure one of several occasions—where the Federal and the State governments together have funded a worthwhile project. We met with the principal, Ms Nancy Snow, and together with the head of the regional office of the Department of Education and Training, Mr Graham Valler, we joined in the celebration of this great facility.
This is about making sure that every child who attends school has the opportunity to participate in the education system, regardless of their needs. The New South Wales education system has been proved time and again to be superior to that of other States. Only recently, when there was talk of introducing Australian history to the education system, it was found that the New South Wales education system had already had that for quite some time—leading the way once again. All students are entitled to an education, and this facility at Woodberry caters for people with special needs, people who for a whole variety of reasons have not had the opportunity at home to prepare them for mainstream education.
They attend the special school for a 12-month period. There are three classes in the school with five students in each. With the assistance of these dedicated professionals they are given the opportunity to attend to those special needs. In many cases they are behavioural problems. These teachers and dedicated professionals tend to those special needs and make sure, as much as possible, that when the students go back into the main education system they are better prepared for it. The program is comprehensive. When the students finish their 12-month program, an additional program continues on to the main school they come from to make sure that the transition back into that school happens as effectively and efficiently as possible.
I had a tour of this facility. It has brand-new classrooms fully equipped with sound, and basic teaching facilities to make sure that students with special needs are attended to. As I said, it is the right of all Australian students—in this case New South Wales students—to have their special needs attended to in a basic and simple way. The facility has just opened, and from what I have seen of the facility and the professionals who teach there, I am confident it will have resounding results. It is not just about getting students from the local Woodberry area; these students attend from all over the district. I am confident the success rate will be astounding and these students will be able to fit better into the mainstream education system.
This is another clear example of the commitment of this Government to make sure everyone has their opportunity, regardless of their background or the difficulties they have had while they have been growing up. This school is a much-needed facility. I am very proud that it is in my electorate to give students their opportunity. It was a pleasure to be there, and I look forward to revisiting that school later this year or early next year to see the students' progress. I am confident, from what I saw that day, that it will be a success. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Iemma Government and the Minister for Education and Training, and I thank the Federal Government for jointly funding the project. I thank all those teachers and professionals who will attend to those children with special needs. I congratulate everyone concerned with a great celebratory day, and I look forward to seeing them again. This is another great example of providing education for all.