Discussion Paper to be prepared Sat 18 August 2012 Nick McKim Minister for Education and Skills The Minister for Education and Skills, Nick McKim, today announced he had asked the Department of Education to prepare a Discussion Paper on improving the delivery of Year 11 and 12 in regional Tasmania. Opening the Tasmanian State School Parents and Friends Conference at Bellerive Primary School, Mr McKim said the paper would also focus on the related issue of extending the school leaving age to 18. "We currently deliver Year 11 and 12 in 18 schools in regional Tasmania. 'The College system works very well in urban areas, but I want a conversation with the Tasmanian community about improving Year 11 and 12 in the regions. "There is also ample evidence to show that extending the age of participation has a profound impact on the future qualifications, employment prospects and levels of income of those staying on longer in training or at school," Mr McKim said. "But it is important to point out that increasing the compulsory school attendance age must be part of a broader solution to the problem of disengagement with education and training that too many of our young people experience. "It is not simply enough to keep our young people on at school or in training. "We must engage them, and ensure they leave education or training with a meaningful qualification that will set them up for life. "That is why I have asked the Department of Education to prepare a Discussion Paper that outlines a broad range of possible learning pathways and options for young Tasmanians, with a focus on better delivering Year 11 and 12 into the regions. "As part of that paper, the issue of whether to extend the age of compulsory participation as described in the Tasmanian State School Parents and Friends motion will be explored. "I am very keen to hear and consider feedback from the Tasmanian community and key stakeholders in education. "We know change works best when there is a shared belief and commitment to make things better." Mr McKim commended the Tasmanian State School Parents and Friends for the role they played in helping develop policies and their commitment to public education. He also paid tribute to retiring President Jenny Grossmith for her dedication and hard work. "Jenny has made a significant contribution and a real difference to public education in Tasmania in a number of important areas," Mr McKim said. "I thank her for her untiring and selfless contribution. Jenny's work has not always been easy but it has been very worthwhile and I wish her all the best in her future endeavours." Mr McKim also congratulated incoming President, Jenny Eddington and wished delegates well for a successful conference.