Saturday, 21 June 2014

Rural Education report leaks

This morning there was an interesting 'leak' from the government in the Sunday Age about the long delayed rural education plan . I'm sure it will see the light of day before the election and probably some short sighted people in marginal rural electorates will be duped by it. I was involved with the first Rural Education Framework in 2010 which was airbrushed out of history 'Stalin style' within months of the coalition coming to power. ( It was the most decisive thing the Coalition did in education for about 2 years)
The Auditor General's report which I posted on in May was damning of their efforts or lack of effort and of the long delayed report which he must have seen.( I wonder if they went back to the drawing board after he released his report? He was scathing of it.He said it wouldn't be 'robust enough') 
One of my biggest concerns is that some unnamed consultancy company has written it without any of the stakeholders apparently being......well...consulted!
If you put rural principals, teachers and parents in a room and get them to list what needs to be done in rural education you will get an avalanche of ideas. Was this done? When? Who was involved? The last rural education framework had a lot of stakeholder input.

Some of the thought bubbles that were printed in the Age this morning sound interesting but it won't work if you dump a pile of 'reforms' on over worked and over stressed small rural schools ( I'm sure big secondary schools like Bendigo would cope) and expect them to just adopt and adapt. It has happened before. And as the Auditor General said it was ad hoc and improvement was undocumented and not measured. Have they established base-line data for rural schools             (Including  individual schools! And discussed specific improvement targets with them?) Will they be capable of measuring change? ( They haven't in the past!) 

The regional offices have been gutted and the Network structures torn down so who will support schools to make the changes needed ( Big colleges in rural cities will cope but those of us in small schools will find it 'challenging') What support will they offer?
 Will there be funding for regional consultants dedicated to supporting schools and networks of schools? Realistic timelines?  Money for CRT release, planning days, PD? Support to collate data and measure improvement? Some attempt to restore the shattered TAFE system in rural Victoria?  A serious attempt to end DEECD's one size fits all mentality especially when it comes to unrealistic red-tape requirements and unachievable targets like LOTE provision in rural Victoria, ( progress was starting to be made on DEECD understanding that not all schools are like those in the leafy eastern suburbs of Melbourne but that all got washed away over the last 3 years) Will there be genuine technological support to help schools to smoothly and consistently  connect to the outside world ?( a one teacher rural school like mine should have got video conferencing equipment years ago without having to buy it ourselves! and do they really think kindergarten kids can sit down and learn from a teacher or somebody on a TV screen and is that what we want our kids to have to do? )
Or will it just be a grab bag of half thought out 'initiatives' on somebody's performance plan that will gather dust and blow away?
I guess we'll read about it first in the newspapers.
It will be interesting to see what they suggest when it is finally released.

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