12 May 2018
SPARKT EDUCATION CONSULTANT
The UK is facing a teacher recruitment crisis and the education secretary has finally acknowledged that the current system is not working. They are tackling teacher workload head on. “Nick Gibb admitted that schools had been put under too much “football manager-type pressure” to reach floor standards”. https://www.tes.com/news/long-read-why-hinds-suddenly-letting-teachers-get-job
Malcolm Turnbull recently admitted the same and is fully supporting the Gonski Report that states the government has “failed a generation of Australians”.
This micromanaging in schools has been driven by League Tables. Everything comes down to the NAPLAN scores your school attains for the purpose of rankings on the My School website and funding. Your school will be rewarded if you meet your KPIs (NAPLAN results)!!!
In order to do this you teach to the test. You train the kids up early to get good results. You don’t have time to let them play, create, move, explore, experience, learn, grow, BE.
If your school’s year threes have poor NAPLAN results then obviously they had not had enough “academic rigour”. Sight words, phonics drills, maths activities, home readers over play. Win at all costs, bugger the children and their needs, we want results (I mean outcomes).
We can only hope and pray that action will be as swift here as in the UK…
“In March Tes read the runes and ran a magazine special on school accountability asking whether “this is the end for the system as we know it”. But few expected the DfE to make such dramatic changes on accountability so quickly. Power is suddenly falling away – it feels like an occupying army is turning tail and heading home because it has realised that the game is up.”
Australian teachers would agree, likening what we’ve been through over the past decade to invasion and war is perfectly apt. Through my teaching, tutoring and advocacy work, I personally have heard hundreds and hundreds of stories of students, parents and teachers who’ve been chewed up and spat out by this horrific system driven by year level outcomes. I myself have suffered mental and physical burnout in this toxic culture.
Sadly, though the directives have been handed down from above it’s the ambitious principals who have been wreaking Gestapo-like havoc. The principals who know how to play the game and take care of their communities, whilst ticking the necessary boxes, are few and far between unfortunately.
Peter Hutton of Templestowe College fame is a shining example of a rogue principal who put the students, parents and teachers first. His results are replicated in the many student-centred schools I’ve visited led by altruistic principals. It’s no easy ride bucking the system. Finally, after nearly two decades of student, parent and teacher suffering the cry is so great it cannot be ignored.
Both the LNP and ALP are equally culpable for the damage done to not one but two generations of Australians. The Gonski report outlines a deteriorating system from the turn of the century. It began with Howard and continued under Rudd, Gillard, Rudd, Abbott and Turnbull. Most notably to teachers, the introduction of the National Curriculum and NAPLAN saw the landscape change dramatically from a child-centred bottom up approach to a top down, results driven business model.
We are beating a dead horse continuing with the NAPLAN testing regime this year after admitting its gross failure. Blind Freddy can see that the government is using up its out of date stocks without concern for the continued poisoning of our children in the process.
Prep was introduced in Queensland so that all children could access free early years education under the Early Years Learning Framework, a child-centred philosophy. This magnanimous plan was then highjacked by NAPLAN and My School.
Our children have been mass produced and stamped with a pass or fail. Lucy Clarke writes candidly about her family’s trauma in “Beautiful Failures”. What the government has imposed upon us is a national tragedy. So much angst and trauma, for what?!?!
No doubt soon there will be a Royal Commission into education just as there have been into other institutions that have abused their power and exploited others for their own twisted gain. Thankfully, in this age of social media equalling the playing fields, the once omnipotent are falling like flies.
2018 is the year of people power. The year the moral majority find their voice. The year of destabilising the bully. If NAPLAN goes ahead on Tuesday it will truly be another nail in the education system’s coffin, hammered in loudly and aggressively by Simon Birmingham and Malcolm Turnbull.