Liked The epidemic Australia is failing to control by Pasi Sahlberg (The Sydney Morning Herald)

If education was like medicine, many controversial education policies, including NAPLAN, MySchool and school funding models, would have been terminated during trial phases due to harm they do to teaching and learning.

If we have learnt anything in 2020, it is that we need to learn to act in education more like we act in medicine. We should stop claiming that there is an extensive evidence base behind suggested educational treatments like the School Success Model without being sure about their possible side effects to children’s learning.

Liked Are Australian students receiving the school education they deserve? – ABC News (

Australia’s education system was once ranked among the world’s best, but its falling reputation has nothing to do with teacher quality and curriculum. The problem is growing inequality, writes Pasi Sahlberg.

Liked Education Minister pushes for ‘back to basics’ approach in schools (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Peter Goss, school education program director at the Grattan Institute, said learning progressions were a tool to help teachers provide targeted instruction for students.

“In today’s world, too many schools are having to create their own understanding of learning progressions. That’s massively inefficient and probably also lower quality,” he said.

“[It’s much better] to develop national learning progressions, offer them to schools along with resources that can help teachers use the learning progressions in practice.”

Dr Goss warned the method was “no panacea” and needed to be implemented properly and carefully otherwise they would just add to teachers’ workloads.

With the drop in results associated with various standardised tests, Dan Tehan calls for a back to basics approach and learning progressions.

Pasi Sahlberg suggests that going back to basics is not the answer. He argues that the focus of our change should be equity, excellence and wellbeing.

In Briony Scott’s end of year address, she argues that we need to see beyond the scores and standardizing

Education is more than skills taught or marks given. Knowledge matters, but even knowledge must bow to wisdom. We educate for a purpose, not for a mark.

Peter Goss explains that cost comparing between Australia and Estonia misses out on average of wages and price per capita.

Of course money is never the only answer. But investing in great teachers would pay for itself many times over, because a better-educated population would mean a more productive and prosperous Australia. And it might just be the key to reversing Australia’s PISA woes.

Bookmarked ‘Don’t believe the myths about Finnish education’ (Australian Financial Review)

It’s obvious what’s damaging education standards, and it’s not the quality of teaching, education expert Pasi Sahlberg explains over Lunch with The AFR.

This profile of Pasi Sahlberg by Robert Bolten in AFR provides a useful starting point for his work and Finnish eduction.
Bookmarked Next Big Thing in Education: Small Data by Pasi Sahlberg (

It is becoming evident that Big Data alone won’t be able to fix education systems. Decision-makers need to gain a better understanding of what good teaching is and how it leads to better learning in schools. This is where information about details, relationships and narratives in schools become important. These are what Martin Lindstrom calls Small Data: small clues that uncover huge trends. In education, these small clues are often hidden in the invisible fabric of schools. Understanding this fabric must become a priority for improving education.

The ‘compulsive collector of clues, Martin Lindstrom, defines Small data as:

Seemingly insignificant behavioral observations containing very specific attributes pointing towards an unmet customer need. Small data is the foundation for break through ideas or completely new ways to turnaround brands.

Sahlberg takes this concept and applies it to education. Some ‘small data’ practices he suggests include:

  • Focus on formative assessment over standardised testing
  • Develop collective autonomy and teamwork in schools
  • Involve students in assessing and reflecting their own learning and then incorporating that information into collective human judgment about teaching and learning

This move away from standardisation is something championed by people like Greg Whitby.