The glaring contradiction in the report, as I see it, its that it asks for massive changes to an assembly-line reality by advocating for more assessment assembly-lines. Ken Boston in his recent commentary speaks to this by advocating that this is a “evolution not a revolution.” What is missing from this argument for learning progressions is the assumption that learning can be standardized across children. Chunking a NAPLAN component a day or week turns teachers into test givers and paper pushers rather than gifted learning scientists negotiating each child’s journey through the curriculum so that they are engaged and inspired, not lab rats.
As teachers are asked to increasingly use data, be aware of research, collaborate, and engage in ongoing professional learning, workload remains an issue. Collaboration and professional learning take time. Professional learning, in particular, often happens in teachers’ own time, and using their own funds. Time and resourcing are important considerations influencing to what extent teachers are able to collaborate and participate in effective professional learning.
The secret to fostering creativity lies in our approach to teaching. We have to stop trying to control the outcome.
With the release of the “Gonski 2.0” report, there have been many conversations about just what is the ideal vision for the future of Australian education. But in considering the many recommendations included in the report, what would it even mean to implement them? And is there broad agreement that they do actually represent the best vision for the future of education in Australia?
For this special episode, we bring together 4 different perspectives on the report and its findings, including:
The NSW Education Standards Authority would engage Professor Geoff Masters from the Australian Council for Education Research to lead the review.
He said the review would look at implementation issues and look for ways to declutter and simplify the curriculum.source
Time will tell what this review will actually provide. As a Victorian, it is interesting to watch from afar.
Having taught curriculum theory for many years, my personal view is that I think we need to be careful not to get caught up in curriculum fads that do much to celebrate the notion of transcending so-called ‘siloed disciplines’ in favour of what, in reality, can often be an atmospheric assemblage of dispositions we’re apparently supposed to structure learning around. - Glenn Savage
I can tell you, I’ve worked in some of the most disadvantaged schools in the Western world and when I arrived at work in the morning, the challenges I faced weren’t poor kids with fixed mindsets. Instead, I had poor kids who hadn’t had breakfast, who were shivering because their parents couldn’t afford uniforms, or who were suffering trauma from their time in refugee camps. Mindsets had nothing to do with it.
From an ideological point-of-view, he does not think that approaching the document from only one lens offers much. Instead he offers a number of plausible interpretations to demonstrate the possibilities.
The Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools discusses a model that gives children personalised teaching based on their ability and achievements, rather than grouping children together according to their age.
On Focus, Nadia sets out to find out exactly what personalised learning is, how it works and what its benefits - or shortcomings - might be.
She speaks to Professor Geoff Masters, CEO of the Australian Council for Educational Research, who outlines the shortcomings in our current system and the alarming decline in the performance of 15-year-olds compared to students in other countries.
Dr Glenn Savage, senior lecturer in Public Policy and Sociology of Education at the University of Western Australia agrees that while there is a definite decline in the achievement of Australian students compared to their international peers, he is more sceptical about the recommendations made in Gonski 2.0.
He says there are better things to be spending our education dollars on than another big overhaul of the Australian education system.
He also believes several changes over the past few years have not helped stem the decline and we still have not tackled the issues of inequitable access to education funding that were identified by the first Gonski report.
- Does the new report addresses the question of inequality?
- Is ‘personalised teaching’ worth the money and investment?
- Is the educational sector exhausted by continual reform agendas?
- Do the recommendations really address what is happening in the classroom?
Glenn Savage also summarised his thoughts in a post on The Conversation. While Geoff Masters (and Ray Adams) published a post in the ACER Newsletter addressing the question of ‘inequality’ arguing that recent findings have found that equity and fairness are often more important.
In an ‘equitable’ school system, students’ special needs and unequal socioeconomic backgrounds are recognised and resources (for example, teaching expertise) are distributed unequally in an attempt to redress disadvantage due to personal and social circumstances. Here again, ‘equity’ is achieved by prioritising fairness over equality.source
Students' progress will be assessed alongside standard academic benchmarks under a new approach to school education.
Under-achieving students would focus on improvement, while more advanced students would be pushed to meet “stretch targets” beyond their age or year level. End-of-year results would be scrapped in favour of “learning progressions” that can be assessed and attained at any time – and tracked, even if a student changes schools or states.
Although this is a considerable change, it has been something spoken about for a number of years. Interestingly, this comes with a review of ‘autonomy’ and the ‘social status’ of teachers:
Mr Gonski also called for an “urgent” review of what students are taught in years 11 and 12, greater autonomy for school principals and measures to boost the social status of teachers.
This seems fair until the buck is passed from Federal or State level to the school. Again no mention of equity (opps, that was Gonski 1.0). In a post for The Conversation, Glenn Savage argues that any changes must be in addition to those called for in the first review, not in replace of this:
We need to (once again) question whether the contemporary reform fever does any more than treat symptoms while deeper structural conditions continue to ensure, as the original Gonski report put it, unacceptable links between young people’s socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of achievement.
We need to be careful not to stray too far from where the first Gonski report started out. That is: addressing inequalities in Australian schooling through re-distributive funding.
Interestingly, on the one hand we want to boost teachers, while also undermine them with a ‘new online assessment tool’ to seemingly justify results:
The restructured curriculum would be underpinned by a new online assessment tool teachers use to gauge where their pupils are up to and develop “tailored teaching and learning strategies” for individual students.
With all this said and done, I was a little confused by the discussion of ‘de-privitisation of teaching’:
There was emerging evidence to support what the report called the “de-privatisation of teaching”, which involved moving away from a model where teachers would stand alone at the front of the classroom and took sole responsibility for their pupils, towards greater collaboration.
I look forward to reading the analysis from those much more informed than me.
There is a summary of the report that can be helpful to look at:
The data, released by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority and an accurate snapshot of spending in the nation's schools, shows the state's independent schools shelled out $552.8 million on capital works in 2016. This compares with $326.9 million for Victorian state schools, which educate 63 per cent of all students, and $343.7 million for Catholic schools.