No politics in HSC question, says education head

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No politics in HSC question, says education head

A senior education chief has denied that a question in the NSW HSC Industrial Technology exam had political ramifications, saying it was set months before the Federal election.

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A senior education chief has denied that a question in the NSW HSC Industrial Technology exam had political ramifications, saying it was set months before the Federal election.

The question says: 'Discuss using examples, the impact of government legislation on employees.'

'Left wing indoctrination'

Federal Education Minister, Julie Bishop said the question was another example of Labor and the unions making clumsy attempts at indoctrinating students with left-wing ideologies.

The Government said the question was meant to allow students to attack WorkChoices.

However, General Manager of the NSW Office of the Board of Studies, Dr John Bennett said the question was written to 'test students' knowledge, not their politics'.

Independent committees

'All HSC and School Certificate papers are set by independent expert committees, well in advance of the actual examination period,' Dr Bennett said. 'For example, work is already under way on questions for the 2008 HSC. There is no connection at all between this four-mark question and the current Federal election campaign.'

Relevant legislation

Dr Bennett said the question called for students to show knowledge of more than one example of relevant legislation affecting employees in a hypothetical workplace.

'Workplace legislation could be one part of a correct answer, but so would mention of laws about taxation, Occupational Health and Safety, industry standards and trade licensing,' he said. 'One of the purposes of the Industrial Technology course is to give students an understanding of workplaces.'

'Hysterical reaction'

NSW Minister for Education, John Della Bosca has condemned the Commonwealth's 'hysterical reaction' to the question.

'More than 67,000 students are sitting one of the most important exams of their lives today and they don't need a desperate Commonwealth Government playing politics,' Della Bosca said.

Set by experts

'Exam questions aren't set by Governments, they're set months ahead by experts in the field from public, private and Catholic schools,' Della Bosca said. 'No question [was] asked about WorkChoices and there was absolutely no political involvement in the framing of the Industrial Technology paper.

'The best answers may have mentioned standards and licensing, occupational health and safety, taxation and training requirements.

'But you couldn't blame a 17 or 18 year-old who'd lost penalty rates, overtime and unfair dismissal protection, if they thought WorkChoices impacted on employees. Those laws were specifically designed to reduce the wages of these students.

'It shows how out of touch the Commonwealth is, they don't realise Year 12 students are mature enough to have their own views and to have already experienced the workforce in a part-time capacity.'

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