Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Regional Directors Meeting 10/09/14

 Today I am attending a Regional Directors meeting in Ballarat. I've had to use a pupil free day for that as small schools don't relief teacher funding to allow me to go. ( I'm not going to use my funds to pay for this when large school principals don't need to.)

The Regional Director ( Matt Dunkley) said that there is nothing to change in Governence in 2015 but there may be legislation to enact in 2016 ( If the present government is still in power) He seemed to think we dodged a bullet with the proposal for School Councils to hire and fire (as they do in the UK) Although he warned they may revisit it if they win the election. He said that School Councils don't meet our needs anymore (I'd dispute that) He thinks School Councils need to be strengthened so they become school 'governors' as they are in the UK ( why do we slavishly think we need to follow the mistakes on the US and UK??).One of the contentious issues is a virtual take over of the principal's role by School Council ( determining pedagogy, curriculum, workforce strategy etc) He supported the present structure on this issue and believes it needs to be done 'carefully'. ( I don't believe there is any place for this in our system. I have never met a principal who has said to me 'I'm unhappy with our pedagogy I better get School Council to look into it' or 'the grade 5-6 team aren't challenging our students, I better get School Council in to get to the bottom of it.)
School Councils will be required to show greater accountability and for the SC Presidents to be involved in principal performance and contract renewal ( which they are already doing under the present system of contract renewal) This will require a legislative change.
School Funding Reform
The announcement has been delayed ( election again) We will get an increase in the SRP to cover inflation and the cost of the EBA......he thinks.
The scrapping of the EMA will mean that that funding will be distributed to schools but won't equate with the number of kids schools have that would have received the EBA!
He warned schools about raising fees or precluding children from camps and excursions if that can't afford it.
Staff Survey
Most staff apparently liked it. ( I was disappointed by the lack of school leadership questions in it) it didn't help me much!
Not applicable at Glen Park.
Seventy schools state wide have dropped it.
School Councils adding value to schools in the UK was negligible . In a small number of schools it was disruptive. In some high performing schools they did well because of the type of people they were able to attract.
He seemed to believe that it had to be introduced carefully and differentiated depending on the size of the school and there own circumstances. ( HOWEVER DEECD has a very poor track record of introducing new initiatives such as Ultranet.I would have no faith in them getting it right)
Research into these changes is based on experience in the UK ( controversially) and US ( Charter schools) Charter Schools have been successful in affluent areas but disasterous in poorer communities. ( Not sure about rural communities?) Read Huffington Post for more information about Charter Schools. They have an excellent Education section.

Data bases are created at state, regional, Network and school level. He presented local area group data.
We looked at LGA Data sets and they asked us to look at the data and to respond to some guided questions - how should this data be interpreted, what key trends are identified and what additional information would be required?
Our data for our LGA doesn't look good especially in secondary school.Interpretation of that data was discussed and shared.

The problem with this data is that it didn't really inform the small schools in the Moorabool LGA of pertinent issues that we can address ( poor numeracy in secondary schools and poor writing results in primary and secondary,) because we don't send our students to Bacchus Marsh Secondary and our data would have a limited impact on the overall result. ( The 3 big Bacchus Marsh Primary Schools account for the overwhelming number of student results contributing to the data.) This sort of 'collective responsibility' approach is fundamentally flawed ( it was under the old Network structure too) 
Schools, especially small rural schools need to focus on their data. The big picture is the responsibility of the region. Sadly the region is a shadow of its former self with years of experience lost through sackings and retirements.
If we are to have a big picture focus as small rural schools it should be to address the concerns raised by the yawning gap in performance between rural and metropolitan schools by the Auditor General in his scathing report released in April. ( refer to a previous post) DEECD has a 'rural education plan' that was supposed to be released in May but still hasn't seen the light of day! 
I was told today that they knew nothing about it and that it was all 'political now'....GREAT!

After morning tea we discussed 'understanding quality pedagogy'. 
The aim was to share a strong knowledge of instructional knowledge. (What happened to the notion of Instructional Leadership'?). People shared their experiences as teachers when we began.
Julie shared a number of models including GANAG, E5,  Marzano ( 'The Art and Science of Teaching') and the Direct Instruction Model.( Our Instructional model is. Blooms at Glen Park) A book called 'High Reliability Schools' was recommended. We watched a TED video by Rita Pierson who talked about the value of personal connections in learning.
to quote her:'Teachers put up with policy that doesn't make sense but they teach anyway.'( This somewhat undermined the message DEECD give us)
Our desk top activity was a waste of time for me being in a one teacher school ( Do you have a shared pedagogy in your school?)

We watched a video from Birchip P-12 about the instructional model that they use. Children are helped to understand how they learn. They use Blooms. ( Less talk from teachers and more thinking from the students - more about the process and not the product, using learning intentions.)

Digital Learning Team
New Pedagogys for deep learning- partnering with Tasmania and NZ and others based on the work of Michael Fullen- blending learning with digital schools.( New measures and tools to review practice and indicate learning progress. How does precise use of digital learning help students learn? )
Issues raised in this session:
*ICT can give the home and school the opportunity to collaborate on student learning.
*Choice of tools to use in the classroom can be spread across the curriculum.
*Thinking and problem solving is as important as content learning.
*Delacombe PS shared their experience in the program.
*They introduced us to the Solo Taxonomy.
 *Wooranna Park PS project on deep thinking projects. (GenYes curriculum)
* SAMR model ( substitute- eBook, Augmentation- eBook with video or sound file but more engaging,  Modification- online collaboration , Redefinition- Doing something you can't do without technology such as video conferencing  )
* Power of the potential of ICT in schools. 
I was a bit confused by what this project was about. So was one of the presenters.

Questions posed by the Finnish education minister.
We were provided with a document called The Assessment Problem Protocol which talks about measuring deep learning.
We were provided with support material ( Digital deck) to help us to improve the use of ICT in our school.
We were given a digital self-assessment framework and continuum and discussed our understanding of collaboration.

Lunch was very good.
Child Migrants
More horrendous stories about the treatment of  migrant children from Northern Ireland who were sent out to Australia after the war.

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