Thursday, 6 November 2014

Education State?

With the state election on the 29th and promises flying thick and fast along with visits to Ballarat and surrounds, the Labor Party has made further commitments to state education.

The new announcements includes commitments: 

  • to not introduce performance pay into Victorian schools
  • to work with the AEU on a revised performance and development review process for school staff to focus on staff development and student learning in terms of professional knowledge and practice (rather than the current 'four point' differentiated performance assessment)
  • to reduce the high number of teachers and ES in contract employment, based on a recognition of limited school budgets and the need for the Department to strictly enforce the VGSA 2013
  • to halt the autonomy agenda and ensure principals and school staff are the decision makers with regard to staffing, curriculum and pedagogy
  • to continue to employ teachers, principals and ES through the Department, with the decisions to terminate employment to remain with the Department
  • to address the lack of support available to principals and schools from regional offices and to remove the burden of administration and compliance - responsibilities that used to be undertaken by the Department 
  • to publically release findings of an investigation into the status of the Gonski deal, including the amount of funding allocated by the Commonwealth, and how much of this funding has been allocated to schools
  • to inform schools about future Gonski funding arrangements and anticipated year-to-year increases
  • to negotiate with the Abbott Government about the final 2 years of funding which they have abandoned and which provides for 2/3 of the Gonski funding under the deal
  • to restore the election of registered teachers to the VIT.

Earlier this week, Daniel Andrews also announced that if elected, a Labor Government would change the state's number plate slogan to: Victoria: The Education State. 

We also need a promise to close the gap between rural and metropolitan schools.There's still a lot more to do ( Reform unfair SRP funding, pay equality for kindergarten teachers, restoring the regions and providing proper support and service, scrapping maniacal Governence proposals etc etc...

Delusions of Grandeur 


Seinfeld does Canberra

very funny!

Gonski update

The recent passing of Gough Whitlam ( Who initiated free higher learning for a generation of Australians including myself and many of my contemporaries and colleagues) led to this excellent encapsulation of the Gonski funding debacle by Lenore Taylor in the Guardians:

Needs-based school funding was at the heart of the previous government’s Gonski review, conducted by independent experts who took 7,000 submissions and concluded that the current education funding system was causing disadvantaged students to fall further and further behind.

The former government’s response – a system with “loadings” for different kinds of student disadvantage – was so popular that before the election Tony Abbott insisted he was on a “unity ticket” with Labor on school funding and repeatedly promised parents could “vote Labor or Liberal and get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”.

If voters had read the fine print of his statements, they would have seen the promise only applied “over the forward estimates”, which meant for four years.

And in the budget the government duly removed $80bn promised funding increases for schools and hospitals after those four years – in the case of the schools funding citing the aforementioned fine print.

Last month it specifically rejected a Senate report calling for Gonski to be implemented, arguing that the Gonski report had “initiated a period of political rather than rational debate”, had “created fissures rather than consent and agreement” and repeating the Coalition’s argument that “teacher quality” and “school autonomy” were much more important – as if these were either/or propositions.

It cited a submission by economist Henry Ergas to contend there was in fact no evidence at all that an increase in per student funding would improve school performance, said the funding increases envisaged by Labor were “not sustainable” and that it would be up to the states to decide how much they spent and to allocate their remaining funds “as they see fit”.( This was the line being peddled by the Government senator at the access and equity conference I attended last week.)

Meanwhile the education department is conducting a review of the loading for low socio-economic status, taking submissions from invited organisations only, which are not being made public. Oh, and an analysis of Naplan results by former school principals Chris Bonnor and Bernie Shepherd showed that from 2010-2013 the achievement gaps between advantaged and disadvantaged schools got bigger, as the Gonski report had predicted.( Not to mention the huge gap between rural students and metropolitan students in Victoria which is probably replicated throughout the country)

“Needs-based funding”, as understood by Gonski, is obviously not the likely outcome of this process.

And that would be the end of an important, popular and potentially life-changing idea, but because it’s happening slowly and without political fanfare, it is likely to be overshadowed by all the passing newsy moments.

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