Friday, 18 July 2014

High cost of promoting small schools

I popped up to school this morning to get organised for next week. There was a letter from Minister Pyne I hadn't opened. It made 'interesting' reading. To read it you'd think there hadn't been any controversy about funding or unnecessary curriculum reviews or comments from him such as 'The Commonwealth shouldn't be involved in education' and 'our government has an emotional commitment to private schools' I might add a few comments of my own to it and fax it back.

The Ballarat Courier rang yesterday. They are publishing a supplement 'profiling' local schools. Someone from a New Zealand call centre rang up trying to sell advertising for it.( over $1000 for half a page) I complained that only private schools and big schools could afford this and that small schools with no PR budget were at a disadvantage. ( The girl on the phone who probably doesn't know where Ballarat is was polite but not interested.) My colleague at Little Bendigo PS had a similar discussion to no affect. She suggested small schools in our Network get together and create a joint advertisement. I'm tempted not to get involved. I think the Courier just uses schools and parents to increase their sales and their profits. If they really wanted to profile ALL local schools they could approach small schools with a special offer. I'll see what my colleagues think. If we compose an advertisement promoting small schools rather than individual little adverts all saying similar things, I'll support it.

I attended the launch of Sharon Knight's election campaign for Wendouree today at the Ballarat Trades Hall. It was packed. Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews attended and gave a great speech. it was a real old fashioned political rally ( I think they call them 'town hall meetings' in the US) and it was fun to be part of it.The ALP has said that education is its number 1 priority for the November election.
Photo below.

More criticism of Kevin Donnelly in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Donnelly has long been a critic of political correctness in schools, and he advocates the restoration of more traditional ways of learning and curricular subject matter; he is big fan of Shakespeare, the classic novels and phonics. He is a strong critic of the post-modern, theory-based lens through which literature and history is sometimes taught in modern schools.

It may be that he and Wiltshire will come up with some excellent suggestions in their review, which is due imminently.

What a shame, then, that any good recommendations inevitably will be tainted by this week’s comments, which have confirmed the prejudices of Donnelly’s critics, who already think his ideas are Draconian. 

It would be wrong to idealise children as cherubic treasures who know not what they do and who are never intentionally bad. The contemporary culture that places children at the centre of their parents’ worlds leads to some egregious behaviour from them after being reared as Little Lord Fauntleroys, with adults catering to their every whim.

But they are still children, innocent and impressionable. Surely that is something we want our curriculum writers to have foremost in their minds when they decide what Australian children will be taught, and the manner in which they will be taught it?

Read more:

We got an email yesterday instructing us to lower our flags to half mast for all of next week following the mass-murder in Ukraine on Friday morning. Over 25 Australians died on that plane that was shot down. It is yet another reason why powerful nations should not arm terrorists, rogue nations or fanatics. ( whether that is arming Ukranian cowboys as Russia is doing or the Taliban in Afghanistan as the US did in the 80s) 

This story appeared on the ABC News online website:

The Victorian Government says it will release a plan to improve rural and regional education within the next few months.

South-west Victoria has among the worst year 12 or equivalent attainment rates in the state.

Today, Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon will discuss the expansion of the Ballarat Specialist School and talk to young mums taking part in an education program at Sovereign Hill.

Mr Dixon says videoconferencing is one way particular education services can be delivered in rural and regional areas.

"A couple of years ago at Ballarat High, German was being taught through videoconferencing to the students not only in Ballarat High but the three other small secondary schools, government secondary schools around the state and the kids were actually taking part in a lesson seeing each other, so it's a model that can be adapted," he said.

Where do I start? The 'plan' was supposed to be released in May, then July and now it's 'in a few months'. Still nobody from the Education Department bothers to talk to small rural schools about their plans. Video conferencing is fine.....if you've actually got video conferencing equipment! you would think a one teacher rural school would be the first to get it but apparently not!

Our data in this region has been poor or at best 'patchy' for years. Nothing has been done and as the Auditor General wrote in a recent report (refer a previous post) the gap between metropolitan and rural schools is widening.

Interesting story in the SMH:
'The state's teachers spent almost $2000 each out of their own pockets to pay for school expenses last year.' Having just prepared my receipts for a visit to the accountant, I can easily believe that.

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