Saturday, 22 June 2019

RI sucks.

The courier mail reports that in the last gov't review of QLD religious instruction (1972), RI was found to be " variance with the educational role of the state school in contemporary society." The review was then "buried". 
That was in 1972!!!!!

By the way: HOORAY FOR 180000 views!

Modern teaching

Australian teachers have higher workloads, fewer resources: OECD report 

Australian public school teachers face higher workloads, fewer resources and more administration duties than global averages, according to a new international report. Despite this, they are amongst the most innovative and enthusiastic adopters of new ideas and approaches to education. 

The OECD’s Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018 report focuses on teachers’ work in the classroom, demographics, classroom challenges, Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and training and provision of professional development.

  • Teachers in schools with high levels of socioeconomic disadvantage face greater complexity in the classroom. Consequently they have six minutes less per hour of class time available for actual teaching and learning than their colleagues in more affluent schools. This is the highest gap of any OECD country
  • Less than 30 per cent of new teachers in Australia received formal or informal induction
  • School time spent teaching has fallen in the last five years. Time spent on administration has increased, and is now 33 per cent higher than the OECD average
  • Australian teachers spend an average of 45 hours per week engaged in work on school grounds – well above the OECD average
  • 60 per cent of Australian teachers report that their professional development is curtailed by conflicts with their work schedule 
  • Australian teachers reported that “reducing class sizes” and “reducing teachers’ administration load by recruiting more support staff” were by far their highest priorities

TALIS says Australian teachers regarded ITE and induction processes as leaving them feeling unprepared for the classroom, while access to professional development was limited by excessive workload and inflexible schedules.

Australian Education Union federal president Correna Haythorpe said it is critically important that Departments of Education provide sufficient support to beginning teachers in these schools to enable them to do their job well and teach students despite the overwhelming pressure they are under.

“As recommended by the OECD, this includes induction programs, reduced teaching load, access to regular mentoring and secure, ongoing employment,” Haythorpe said.

“Escalating workloads impacts on teaching and learning in schools. Teachers should not be spending more time on administration than on teaching.

“Schools in socio-economically disadvantaged areas face staffing and resource shortages at a greater level than schools in more advantaged communities. It is vital that these schools have a diverse staff mix, including staff with significant experience in the classroom.

“This creates an environment where new teachers can learn from more experienced teachers and provides a collegial environment for support and mentoring, which the OECD tells us Australian teachers are striving to create despite the resource challenges they face.

Australian public school teachers are amongst the best in the world and should be part of a system which is the envy of other countries, Haythorpe said.

“Australia’s teachers are constantly asked to do more with less, leading to excessive workloads and workplace stress. The Federal Coalition Government has denied public schools $14 billion over the next decade which entrenches funding inequality in our schools for years to come.

“These TALIS findings demonstrate the critical importance of fair funding for public schools to ensure that Australian teachers have the resources to give every student the teaching and learning opportunities that they need attention they need.”

we have spent the past six years 'increasing our productivity' with a culminating rise in stress and overwork.

This is not to the benefit of children and young people at all.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Age editorial

A fair and prosperous nation can only be built on and sustained by equality of opportunity, an unassailable principle that compels, above all, universal access to quality education from early childhood. It is, then, profoundly alarming that many students from rural and regional areas are being denied the educational opportunities available to their city-dwelling contemporaries.

Extensive research by The Age’s education editor, Henrietta Cook, and our data expert, Craig Butt, has revealed a widening achievement gap between city and country students. The performance of regional and rural schools is as much as 20 points behind that of city schools, according to NAPLAN data. Victorian year 9 regional students are a full year behind city students, and lag by almost as much in reading. Following their finding, published in recent days, that the VCE results of more than half of all regional and rural schools have declined over the past decade, Education Minister James Merlino has commissioned an inquiry. That is not necessarily a bad move, but it is an insufficient response to a fundamental flaw and must not be allowed to merely lead to yet another expensive report. Calling an inquiry is not enough in itself. The state government risks a bush backlash should it not demonstrate it is fixing the issues.

The impediments faced by rural and regional schools include: a lack of incentives to attract teachers to the regions; declining populations in about a quarter of regional areas as farms are forced to consolidate to survive; and the demoralising disincentive of the prohibitive cost of leaving home to go to university

The Age’s investigation not only ventilated the problem, but found clear elements of a solution; while there has been a general decline in rural and regional results, some schools – although fewer than one in 10 – are improving.

So, what might be done to reverse such an unacceptable situation? Increasing financial and housing incentives for teachers is crucial. The state government allocated more money in the budget to build regional schools, but it needs to buttress this with an investment in the skills and quality of the teachers outside of cities.

Mr Merlino argues schools in regional and rural Victoria have received almost double the increase in funding per student compared to city students since 2015. His advisory panel will examine how this might be better deployed. Areas for consideration should include not only enhanced staffing, but access to early childhood education and co-ordination between state and independent schools, which is providing some great results, our research found. Other parts of the solution include providing more curriculum opportunities, which would help students’ aspirations and motivation, as would financial assistance with attending university.

A recent end to a multi-year stand-off between the federal government and Spring Street will provide an extra $7 billion under the Gonski 2.0 reforms, which are designed to allocate funds on the basis of need. This adds to the state government’s record funding of schools through its ambitious Education State agenda. So, the money is there, but needs to be properly targeted. Change shouldn’t be delayed for the results of an inquiry.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019


$247m to school chaplains and only $2.8m towards mental health. And we don’t want to indoctrinate children, right? Federal Government.

Monday, 17 June 2019


An expert panel has been appointed by the Andrews government to investigate why rural and regional students are lagging behind their city peers.

The announcement follows an investigation by The Age last week that revealed more than half of all regional and rural schools have recorded a slump in their VCE results over the past decade.An expert panel will make recommendations to the state government on how to bridge the divide between country and city students.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said while the achievement gap between rural and city students was a national problem, he wanted to take a lead in addressing the issue.

“We are already doing a lot to boost results in regional and rural Victoria, but we now need to look at what more we can do and that is why this panel is so important,” he said.

The expert advisory panel, which will be chaired by Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority chief executive David Howes, will make recommendations to the government on how to bridge the divide between country and city students.

It will include principals and regional education experts and run consultations in Ballarat, Bendigo, Horsham, Mildura, Morwell, Wangaratta and Warrnambool throughout July and August.

If it's determined by Regional Office and it probably will be then I probably won't get an invite but that doesn't matter so long as they have a good cross section and that they actually LISTEN and LEARN!

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Country education crisis.

Reports last week in the Age by Henny Cook, finally

More than half of all regional and rural schools have recorded a slump in their VCE results over the past decade, triggering concerns about a widening achievement gap between city and country students.

The figures have prompted education experts, principals and students to call for more resources for country students, incentives for teachers to leave the city and greater support for country kids at university.

At one Gippsland school, the median study score dropped from 29 to 23 between 2009 to 2018.

At another school in the Wimmera, the median study score fell from 32 to 24, while a school in north-east Victoria saw its score drop from 28 to 23.

The Age’s analysis comes off the back of the latest NAPLAN results, which found that Year 9 regional students in Victoria lag an average 12 months behind their city peers in maths. They are 10 months behind in reading.

What does the data show?

While the Andrews government has pumped record amounts of funding into schools as part of its ambitious Education State agenda, the data highlights serious inequities between country and city students.

The VCE results of more than 60 per cent of state high schools in the country and regions and almost 50 per cent of non-government schools have deteriorated over the past decade.

Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority data for 100 state high schools outside Melbourne shows the average VCE performance of 61 schools had worsened, eight schools improved and the remaining 31 have maintained their results.

Among 53 non-government schools outside of Melbourne, 49 per cent had worsened, 16 per cent had improved and 36 per cent had maintained their results.

Median study scores are regularly used as a measure of a school’s academic performance, with schools striving to achieve the statewide average of 30 out of 50.

Small schools with incomplete data and schools that have opened or closed within the past five years have been excluded from The Age’s analysis.

While state schools recorded an average drop of almost two study scores, non-government schools recorded a drop of about one study score. During this period, the performance of city schools remained stable.

But what is causing the decline? There’s no simple answer, and we have sought the views of students, principals and education experts. Here are five of the major factors:

Teacher troubles

Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said attracting teachers to the bush, and retaining them, was a major issue.

"I don’t think there are enough incentives," she said.

She said the Education Department should be given powers to allocate staff to rural and regional schools, more staff should be moved onto ongoing contracts and the HECS debt of teaching graduates who work in rural schools should be waived.

One principal, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said rural schools had to accept teachers that other schools wouldn’t accept because they were so desperate for staff.

"In my former school they advertised the same job three times in a row."

Out-of-field teaching – which involves teachers running classes outside their expertise – is also more common in rural locations.

Demographic changes

Drought and changes to farming practices are making some rural areas less attractive to families and teachers.

"To make ends meet, farms have gotten bigger," explains Ms Peace, who hails from north-west Victoria. "Where there were three farms there are now one. Your schools get smaller, your community gets smaller and that impacts people’s attractiveness to that community. Do you really want to go to a community that is declining?"

While Melbourne’s population is booming, the population of around one quarter of Victorian rural areas is shrinking.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that the median age of residents in most rural areas is increasing as younger people seek opportunities elsewhere and the gap between average incomes in metropolitan and rural/regional areas has widened.

Peter Goss, the Grattan Institute’s school education program director, said the achievement gap could be explained by country schools being more disadvantaged than city schools.

"The further you get away from the city the worse the level of achievement," he said.

"There are fewer professional jobs and higher unemployment. The education and employment backgrounds of the parents really impact the outcomes for students."

The cost of university

One principal, who did not want to be named, said his school’s VCE results had plummeted because students couldn’t afford to move away from home to attend university. This, he explained, killed their motivation to study.

"Parents know they can't afford it so they aren’t pushing them. Why bother? There is no drive," he said.

He said bright kids were instead choosing to pursue apprenticeships and trades that were closer to home. The experienced principal called for more scholarships to help country students attend university.

"There has been an absolute lack of recognition that the country areas are struggling," he said.


While she speaks highly of the teachers at Myrtleford P-12 College, Year 11 student Bri Hines said she doesn’t get the same opportunities as her city peers.

The 16-year-old said the six hour round trip to Melbourne made it difficult for her to attend VCE study seminars.

She said students from small schools such as hers were also unaware of the intense competition they faced in the VCE. This meant they were unaware of the work required to do well.

"We are all moseying along together," she said. "We are in a bit of a bubble."

The teenager is an executive student on the Victorian Student Representative Council, a student-led organisation that has made the issue of equity for rural schools one of its key priorities for 2019.

Bri said moving away from home to attend university was daunting for many students.

"The idea of moving three or four hours away from your family can seem very intimidating," she said.

"There’s a mentality that the city is a big scary place. There’s a feeling of inequity, that these city people have all their stuff together and country kids aren't good enough. They feel like their only option is to drop out."

Subject availability

Many rural students who spoke to The Age said they were unable to enrol in the VCE subjects of their choice because they were not offered at their schools. Others were unaware that certain subjects even existed.

Rose Vallance, who grew up in Ouyen in the state’s north-west, said poor access to VCE subjects led to her choosing an unsuitable university degree.

Two years ago, Rose moved away from home and embarked on an arts degree, majoring in drama, at Deakin University.

But the 22-year-old discovered the course wasn't for her.

"I didn't get to try those subjects in my school because the subjects were not offered," she said.

"I couldn't get down to the open days. It was a massive leap of faith that it was going to work."

Associate Professor Philip Roberts of the University of Canberra said VCE students at rural schools were less likely to have the opportunity to take science and maths subjects, which in turn limits their choices for tertiary study.

Fewer than one third of state schools in the country offer specialist maths, compared with 64 per cent of city state schools.

The political response

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said addressing disadvantage in rural and regional Victoria was a strong focus of his government.

"This is why students in regional and remote areas of Victoria receive double the increase of equity funding of metropolitan schools to support numeracy and literacy," he said.

He said the government’s $21.5 million Greater Shepparton education plan, new minimum ATAR requirements for teaching course and the Navigator program for students at risk of disengaging were improving outcomes.

The Opposition’s education spokeswoman Cindy McLeish said the figures were concerning and the state government should consider an inquiry into rural and regional education.

"You want kids in the country to do well but you also want them to stay in their towns and give back to the community," the former secondary school teacher said.

"They need to keep kids engaged in education. There are so many jobs in the country and they can’t get doctors, speech therapists, chefs and welders."

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said his government was working to close the higher education attainment gap between regional and metropolitan students. He said Victoria would be able to better support these students if it signed up to his school funding deal.

He said the government was pumping an extra $400 million into regional higher education over five years, which included scholarship programs and five new regional study hubs.

Former premier Denis Napthine is leading a review of regional higher education and will report back to the federal government this month.

Merlino caves in

State schools will receive an extra $7 billion from the Andrews government over five years after Victoria grudgingly signed up to the Gonski 2.0 funding deal.

Signalling the end of a bitter and protracted dispute, Victorian Education Minister James Merlino has finally inked a school funding agreement with the Commonwealth.

Under the plan, the federal government will inject $31.2 billion into Victorian state schools between 2018 to 2029, $30.1 billion into the Catholic sector and $18.7 billion into the independent sector.

Mr Merlino wrote to Mr Tehan on Saturday to inform him that he had signed the agreement.

“I am proud that through this bilateral agreement, the Andrews Labor government will commit to significantly increase our funding share for all schools, to ensure every Victorian school student has the best chance to thrive and succeed,” he wrote.

But Mr Merlino said he would continue to fight for a fairer model so "all students are supported to achieve their best, no matter where they go to school".

Negotiations have dragged on for more than three years, with the federal government’s contribution towards state schools' schooling resource standard seen as a key sticking point.

While independent and Catholic schools will reach 100 per cent of this benchmark, state schools will only reach 95 per cent. The Victorian government has been unsuccessfully urging the federal government to increase its share for state schools from 20 to 25 per cent.

It suspended negotiations with the Morrison government earlier this year, hoping Labor would win the federal election and pump more funding into state schools.

Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said while it wasn't the agreement she had been hoping for, it would provide schools with certainty.

"We welcome the additional funding which has been provided to government schools," she said.

"Our state school kids are the lowest funded in the country, even though the Andrews government has invested heavily in schools and is closing that gap."

She said the additional funding would let schools employ more teachers and support staff, reduce class sizes and provide students with access to psychologists and speech therapists.

"It allows schools to meet the individual needs of students and that is something they struggle to do on a daily basis," she said.