Saturday, 6 September 2014

Happy Fathers Day

As well as being Fathers Day today is the one year anniversary of the election of the current Federal government. There have been many assessments of that first year printed in the press this week, most hone in on the broken promises and disasterous first budget. Below is the assessment of the Australian Education Union Federal President
The Abbott Government has chosen to spend its first year entrenching inequality in schools by abandoning needs-based Gonski funding agreements with the states.
Schools will miss out on two-thirds of the extra funding that would have been provided under Gonski and all schools will get a cut in real terms from 2018.
That means fewer teachers, less support for students and bigger gaps between rich and poor schools.
The Abbott Government also broke its election promise to introduce extra funding for students with disabilities in 2015, and will effectively cut $100 million from disability education next year.

Templestowe College turn around
Also refer to this interesting story about how Templestowe College 'turned itself around' with staggered starting times, de-emphasising NAPLAN scores, introducing student friendly subjects such as game designing and animal husbandry and consulting with teachers more . They've successfully turned their enrolment decline around and have a happier school. There is an interesting quote from the story which our politicians should read:

Dr Zhao, a Mitchell Professorial Fellow at Victoria University, believes fostering creativity should be a priority because many jobs will soon be done by machines.

He says Australia would be misguided if it sought to emulate the success of school systems in Shanghai, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore that are often praised for producing elite scores in international tests.

"The biggest change in Asian education reform, which we failed to notice, is their effort to expand their definition of successful qualities students should have," he says.

"They're not looking at test scores. They're looking at the non-cognitive abilities or capacities like resilience, creativity, innovative spirit, entrepreneurial thinking and social emotional wellbeing."

He says schools should strive for "personalised learning" programs tailored to each student, much like Templestowe College.

Read more:

Reading Recovery
Interesting story in last weeks Age from visiting New Zealand educators about the 'failure' of Reading Recovery in NZ ( Reading Recovery originated in NZ and has been heavily promoted by DEECD as an aid to helping struggling readers to make progress. It was originally championed by schools from Bendigo but became popular in the Grampians Region with 'Early Years' in the mid 1990s.I received training in it in 1997)
Professor James Chapman, from Massey University, told The Age that Reading Recovery did not work for children who had dyslexia or were really struggling to read.

"I'm not saying no one benefits from Reading Recovery, I am saying that in New Zealand it is supposed to be helping the kids who struggle the most to read and the evidence shows that is absolutely not the case," he said.

Professor Chapman said these children needed systematic instruction in "phonemic awareness", with children taught to sound out words.

He was also critical of Reading Recovery because it did not help children until they had been at school for a year.

"We would say Reading Recovery is a wait-to-fail program … there is plenty of evidence to show you can predict with a fair degree of certainty the kids who will struggle from the outset," Professor Chapman said.

"Reading Recovery needs to clean up its act and change its approach or be ditched and replaced by a program far more contemporary than one devised in the '70s that hasn't changed," he said.

But Professor John Hattie, the chairman of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, was more supportive but said it was costly and needed to be revamped.

I have used Reading Recovery at Glen Park and found that it was time consuming ( I had to do it half an hour before school started) and I also had doubts about its long term success. I try to incorporate aspects of it in my daily one to one guided reading program with individual students from Prep to grade 2. I put a lot of emphasis on phonics with those students who need it ( some don't) with generally good success. Reading Recovery however does need a make-over 

Read more:

Governence Debate hots up
From the  Sunday Age:

Professor John Hattie, director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute at the University of Melbourne, said a federation system would have big advantages in good times but would be a "recipe for disaster" in bad times.

He pointed to New Zealand, where councils have much greater powers – and "about 10 per cent of all schools in New Zealand are 'under review' due to such clashes".

"It is yet again another distraction from the major influences of student learning," Professor Hattie said. "I do not send my child to a school for some busybodies down the road to run. I want professionals to run the school."

Victoria has about 17,000 volunteers working in school councils, which usually comprise principals, teachers, parents and other community members. Councils have a range of roles – overseeing the school budget, strategic planning and implementing policies – but the way they operate varies depending on the school and the level of expertise. Most agree there is room to improve, but how much reform is too much? 

When Mr Dixon announced in April last year that he would review the school governance system, it was widely expected he would give councils the power to hire and fire staff – pointing to New Zealand as a precedent.  In the end, and with an election looming, the government pulled back, claiming there was limited evidence "linking such powers to improved student outcomes and quality of governance".

But the changes announced last week are controversial nonetheless – hardly surprising given the Coalition's so-called "autonomy agenda" in schools. The government's view is that the more decision-making powers schools have, the more important it is to have "structures and processes" in place to support that capacity.

The problem, according to some, is that this is yet another shake-up, at a time when the government has already transferred many of its responsibilities to schools under the guise of greater autonomy, blurring lines of accountability. As St Helena Secondary College principal Karen Terry says: "It's really putting more department responsibility back on to parents and principals. But school councils don't pay my wage; the department does."

Read more:

Bad luck Bombers! better luck next season!

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