Thursday, 31 December 2015

Last tweet of the year or the first for 2016?

I went up to school today to take in the bins but they weren't empty. I'm sure we've had them emptied on New Years Day before??? The neighbours had there's out yesterday??? Anyway, I hope we don't have to wait a fortnight for them to be emptied. 
I watered the garden again, but I don't think there is enough water in the world to keep our garden going this summer. So different to last year.
I noticed some llamas/alpacas in a paddock near the school and took a photo. In one they're so close together they look like the Pushme-Pullyu from Doctor Dolittle ( the proper one, not the Eddie Murphy one) 

Professional New Years resolutions: Make sure I do all the PD I need to do with the new curriculum starting in 2017. ( The kids can cope with CRTs) Don't buy so many books ( I'm running out of bookshelves) Keep it simple and manageable ( Let DET help guide my new starategic plan. I don't always need to be the innovator) Get more enrolments.( Word of mouth is the best way but I may need to look at other strategies. See what School Council thinks) Get LOTE going by mid year in some form or another. Stop buying chocolate biscuits for school and eating the whole packet...and a few more I'll keep to myself.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Gonski deceit and its effects on Ballarat

From Catherine King MP

Federal Member for Ballarat, Catherine King, today warned the Turnbull Government’s decision to abandon its election promise to back the Gonski school funding deal will cost Ballarat schools hundreds of millions of dollars.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham has confirmed the Turnbull Government will break its election promise, and abandon the final two years of the deal to properly fund all schools based on need.

“Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to abandon our schools will have a devastating impact on the Ballarat region,” Ms King said.

“Schools in Ballarat were the big winners of Labor’s Gonski funding deal, with additional funding for rural and small schools, as well as extra funding for students with special needs.

“Tearing up this deal will rip $215 million out of Ballarat schools ( I'd say it would be more than that) and abandoning needs-based funding will again see our children struggle to get the teachers and resources they need, and deserve.

“With Malcolm Turnbull abandoning the full Gonski funding, rural and regional schools and families will once again be significantly disadvantaged.”

“Rural and regional students need to get their fair share, or they will be left behind.”

2016 Teacher New Years resolutions?

From the Pensive Sloth blog

Gearing up for a big anti- teacher union election campaign

Gonski makes sense....FULL STOP!

The Turnbull government has announced the end of the Gonski reforms to school funding. Never comfortable with the key elements – a national resource standard, needs-based, a major role for the Commonwealth – the Coalition has used a mounting budget deficit to end the greatest effort since the Whitlam era to forge a consensus on how we fund our schools.
But education reforms are not so easily buried. Education Minister Simon Birmingham, like his predecessor Christopher Pyne, plans to come up with a simple model that will target need, be transparent and focus on outcomes. 
Education Minister Simon Birmingham is quick to blame teacher unions for wanting bigger education.
It will demand more accountability from the states for how they spend federal money, more autonomy for principals, and a bigger emphasis on teacher quality. That's what Pyne wanted, and before him, Julia Gillard. 
Most states and territories are taking the road to self-managed schools, and no one questions the need for having good teachers. Birmingham is thus saying nothing new. But he is confirming that the modernist Turnbull government is going back to the ambivalent federalism of the past.
As education minister, Christopher Pyne also promised to come up with a simple set of alternatives to Gonski funding.
Conservative governments are the reluctant funders of public systems (whose quality they doubt) and champions of private schooling (on which they want all schools to be modelled). It is this unbalanced role that has done most to create division in Australian schooling. And it is the divisions in schooling between rich and poor, public and private, Catholic and non-Catholic, which have made reform of wide concern to Australians. 
A broad coalition of interests sees in Gonski the framework for ending conflict over state aid and states' rights (Whitlam's twin shibboleths). Government and non-government schools were brought into the needs-based framework in a drive for inclusiveness by Gillard. It is because the Gonski reforms have deep roots that most state governments, all Catholic systems and eventually also the private non-Catholic sector signed up to it. 
The protracted public consultation, including thousands of submissions, showed a lively and abiding interest in setting matters right.
As education minister, Julia Gillard too sought more accountability from the states for how they spend federal money, more autonomy for principals, and a bigger emphasis on teacher quality.
Why do Australians want a just and durable reform of school funding? Why do they now assume, as they could not before Whitlam, that the Commonwealth government will play a key role in supporting government schooling? 
Almost all Australians today depend on their children making successful use of school. The economic stakes are high. Most young people now complete school. The majority aim at university or TAFE or undertake an apprenticeship. Unless children do well at school, these paths are often closed to them. 
Historically Australians have substituted success at school and small families for once large families and only limited use of school. This long-term strategy hinges on equitable and high-quality schooling. The socially most advantaged families want a competitive edge and embrace private schooling, the least advantaged face significant challenges and depend almost wholly on how well government schools work. 
Most Australians know where the balance of the national funding effort must lie, and also that this must be a national, not only state, effort.
Birmingham is quick to blame teacher unions for wanting bigger education budgets. But it is private schools, not state governments, that are leading the way on this. Both rich and poor know that money matters. In this they are opposed by conservative politicians and commentators. Neither sees merit in the smaller classes that money buys, and both denounce more government spending on government schools as waste. Both trust in the divine grace of quality teaching as proof against the adversity of any setting. This is scarcely convincing. 
The children of the poor are two years behind the children of the rich, their progress is slower, they are more prone to disengage and drop out, they turn in poor VCE results and are more likely to end up unemployed. To change this, we need to reverse our priorities. 
Currently we overfund the advantaged and underfund the disadvantaged. Reform is required, not another round of negotiations in place of reform.
Australians are not more wedded to equity than are other nations, but they are deeply attached to opportunity. They want a fair go. 
Today's funding arrangements stand in the path of widening opportunity. Much more is spent on the schools of the rich than those of the poor. Much of what is spent on the rich comes from the public purse. Middle-class welfare drains funds from public schools and denies them access to the cultural resources of educated families. We take both money and values away from poor settings and deposit them in rich settings where students secure top marks and prestige university places. 
This is not the way to extend opportunity, let alone raise standards. Reform is not going to go away while the business of opportunity is unfinished.

Emeritus Professor Richard Teese is author of For the Common Weal: The Public High School in Victoria 1910-2010.

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Last day of 2015 and a very hot day with northerly winds, exactly what we don't need. It is very dry and I don't think our summer garden will survive this year even with me going up to work to water every day. 
It's a Total Fire Day today ( refer sign outside our local CFA shed- Country Fire Authority)
 and people down the surf coast have been told to evacuate. Have a good New Years Eve. I thought the ribbons would have been taken down but they are still up which is a good sign.


Birmingham as Scrooge

Today’s announcement that the Turnbull government won’t honour the final two years of Gonski schools funding is unsurprising but nevertheless disappointing. The Abbott/Turnbull government long ago walked away from Christopher Pyne’s ‘unity ticket’ pledge. The timing of the announcement, between Christmas and New Year, suggests the government wanted to minimise scrutiny of its decision, with good reason. Turnbull and Birmingham may have missed Christmas by a few days but Ebenezer Scrooge would be proud of them.

Part of the problem here lies with the Gillard government’s failure to fully adopt and bed down the reforms recommended by David Gonski and his expert panel in 2011 after 18 months of research. Had the Labor government made a better fist of this task and developed a consistent national model, including an independent federal body to determine funding, we might not be where we are now.

There’s little doubt that an incoming federal Labor government would deliver on the additional funding promised to the states and which state premiers and education ministers are demanding. So it’s the LNP government that has questions to answer.

Today federal education minister Simon Birmingham has indicated he wants a new needs based funding model developed by 2018. Gonski tabled his report in late 2011, so the LNP has had two years in opposition and two years in government to develop a schools funding model. Now Birmingham wants another two years. Despite the rhetoric, it’s hard to escape the conclusion it’s just not that important to this government, except to neutralise it as an election issue.

There’s no doubt the government has to consider its budgetary situation. But what’s the long term impact on the economy of an education system that marginalises a good proportion of the population? And I expect most people could nominate some potential savings. Try offshore processing of refugees, big business tax avoidance and Direct Action payments to big polluters for starters. And if a serious review of school funding took place there would be potential savings from private school funding – an option Gonski was forbidden from contemplating.

There are other concerns coming from Birmingham’s announcement today. His claim that public schools cannot be trusted to spend additional funding wisely is both irrational and insulting. There is a wealth of research about what makes a difference to student learning; our issue quite simply is that we don’t have the funding to do what’s needed. I don’t recall non government schools being questioned in this way as their funding sky rocketed over the last 15 years. And if we look at where that funding went, it supported the employment of additional teachers and the development of new facilities, which Birmingham classifies as wasteful. Ironically, the impact of that funding was not to lower school fees (they’ve increased at a rate far exceeding the CPI) but to concentrate advantage in non government schools and disadvantage in public schools. At some stage government is going to have to address this issue, unless of course it favours education as a means of preserving privilege.

The other major area of concern is Birmingham’s signal that he wants the commonwealth to play a more interventionist role in schools. This might satisfy some egos in Canberra, but it’s a poor signal. Schools remain a state responsibility under the Australian constitution and if we need anything from Canberra it’s less intervention, not more. If you want evidence, look at the slide in Australia’s educational performance over the last 15 years while Canberra has adopted a much more active role and sought to direct policy while doling out more funding to schools that are already well off in the name of promoting choice. The equity gap is widening; our most needy students (80% of whom are educated in public schools) are falling further behind and our highest ability students are flatlining. Birmingham would be better advised to make a meaningful contribution to the federal constitutional reform process.

Both the LNP government and Labor claim they want a needs based school funding model. That is completely at odds with the pattern of education spending over the last 15 years. It’s time to do something.

Dales Blog:

The real Winnie the Pooh

A new book released about the real Winnie the Pooh

Lindsay Mattick’s great-grandfather was on his way to fight in the First World War when he bought a bear cub he named Winnie, inspiring author A.A. Milne to create the timeless character Winnie-the-Pooh. Now, Mattick has written a new children’s book chronicling the real-life story behind the bear.
Mattick, 37, wanted to tell her young son the peculiar tale and wrote Finding Winnie: The Story of the Real Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh.The book was published in November — just weeks before the 90th anniversary on Thursday of the first time Milne used the name Winnie-the-Pooh in print.
“Finding Winnie is a story that I have had in my head for a long time,” Mattick told The Associated Press with a warm smile that reveals her passion for this very personal project. “I thought a picture book would be an amazing way to share my incredible family story with my child.”
The family history goes like this: Her great-grandfather, Lt. Harry Colebourn of Canada, bought an American black bear cub from a hunter while Colebourn was on his way to fight in the First World War in 1914. Colebourn, a veterinarian, raised the female bear and named her after his home city, Winnipeg — or Winnie for short. He took Winnie on the long journey by train and ship to his training camp in England.
The story came to light in the late 1980s, when another regiment was incorrectly linked to the bear, which by then had been made famous by Milne’s classic childhood tales. Mattick’s grandfather wanted to set the record straight.
“He said, ‘No, actually that was my Dad’s bear, that was his pet,’ and at that point, he pulled out his father’s diaries and photographs from the war, and started to really share the story publicly,” Mattick said.
She is now retelling the story for a new generation. Taking inspiration from her family’s archive of photos of Colebourn and Winnie, Mattick teamed up with illustrator Sophie Blackall to create historically accurate drawings that capture the rare bond between the soldier and the bear 

But a war zone is no place for a pet. So when Colebourn was sent to the front lines in France, he left Winnie in the care of London Zoo.
Visitors quickly saw that this bear was unusually gentle and kind — qualities later reflected in Milne’s writings. Children were even allowed into her enclosure, something no zoo would consider today.
“She became a star attraction,” Mattick said. “She had a lot of visitors because of her very friendly and well-trained nature.”
Christopher Robin Milne, a young visitor who forged a friendship with the bear, loved her so much that he rechristened his own teddy Winnie-the-Pooh. The name “Pooh” comes from a swan also named by Christopher Robin.
The boy’s father, A.A. Milne, first published a story about a boy named Christopher Robin and his stuffed bear Winnie-the-Pooh in the London Evening News on Christmas Eve in 1925.
Winnie-the-Pooh was first published as a book in October 1926 and A.A. Milne wrote several other stories and poems about Christopher Robin and his bear’s adventures. The books and illustrations have been treasured by children — and their parents — for generations.
Colebourn survived the war. But, as he returned to Canada, he felt that Winnie was so settled at the zoo that he left her there, where she remained a favourite with visitors until her death in 1934.
“Finding Winnie: The Story of the Real Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh” was published last month by Orchard Books, Hachette Children’s Group.
From the Toronto Star

Gonski flip flop and the funding debate continues....

Federal cash for education after 2018 is "still a matter up for discussion", Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said about reports his government is abandoning the Gonski funding deal. But his minister had something different to say:
Simon Birmingham: Don't expect schools election cash splash and then there was this:
Turnbull schools plan 'sneaky, mean, tricky': Andrews government!

Resource-rich private schools receive more than $2 billion in Commonwealth government funding a year, equivalent to nearly one third of the final two years of the Gonski school funding deal.
An analysis of the latest figures on the MySchool website shows 1115 private schools in Australia are receiving more income per student than the average state school, through school fees, parent donations and government funding.
Save Our Schools president Trevor Cobbold says too much Commonwealth funding was flowing to schools that didn't need it
These schools received $2.1 billion in Commonwealth government funding in 2013, the equivalent of nearly one third of the final two years of the Gonski funding deal.
It comes as Fairfax Media revealed that federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham would ditch the final two years of the Gonski deal in favour of negotiating fresh funding deals with the states from 2018.
Mr Birmingham warned that the government did not have a "limitless" amount of money to spend on schools.
Trevor Cobbold, who is a former Productivity Commission economist and public school advocate, crunched the MySchool figures.
He said too much Commonwealth funding was flowing to schools that did not need it. This was due to an "incredibly favourable" funding arrangement for private schools under the previous Howard government, which has been folded into new school funding models for the non-government school sector, he said.
"We have continued to fund privilege rather than disadvantage in education," said Mr Cobbold, who is the Save Our Schools (SOS) spokesman.
"It's a straight choice. Do you fund wealthy private schools at the expense of disadvantaged schools, or do you turn some of that funding around to support disadvantaged students in the public and private sector?
"The government over the last 15 years has chosen not to do the latter ... that means that students from disadvantaged families will continue to be disadvantaged through their lives. They will face high unemployment, low incomes, and not participate fully in the workforce and the economy. It's not just a matter of social justice, it's a matter of economic growth."
A Productivity Commission report revealed earlier this year that Victorian state schools students each get almost $2000 less than the national average.
The report also showed that funding for Victorian state schools fell over the 2012-13 period, while funding for students in independent and Catholic schools rose.
State schools are largely funded by the state government and educate the bulk of the state's most disadvantaged.
Catholic Education Office executive director Stephen Elder said Mr Cobbold's analysis focused exclusively on socioeconomic advantage, which did not apply to all private schools.
"'Socioeconomic advantage is not the sole domain of private schools. As we pointed out during the recent Bracks review of government school funding in Victoria, there are high concentrations of advantaged students in a number of government-run schools."
Mr Birmingham said the Turnbull government would spend a "record" $69 billion on all schools over four years from 2014 to 2019, and the government was committed to funding that "looks beyond just a two-year horizon".
"The Turnbull government knows that funding is important but that what you do with it matters even more. The government's discussions on future funding will not just be about how more money is spent but will seek to ensure we lift education outcomes too."
The six-year Gonski school funding deal was designed to support students based on need.
The Independent Schools Victoria was not available for comment.

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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Hot cross buns!

Hot cross buns in Woolworths today.....ahhhhhhhh!
But I do like hot cross buns...

Gonski makes sense

The Gonski model explained on YouTube

From today's Guardian

The federal government has dashed hopes that Malcolm Turnbull would reverse the objections of his predecessor, Tony Abbott, to the Gonski school funding model, confirming that funding for the program is not guaranteed beyond 2017.

State governments and the education union had been buoyed by comments Turnbull made shortly after taking over from Abbott that indicated that Gonski may be given a lifeline.

The sharp funding increases slated for the last two years of the reforms – 2017 and 2018 – were scrapped in the 2014 budget, and not reinstated in the most recent budget update.

The federal education minister, Simon Birmingham, confirmed on Tuesday that the Gonski funding model was no longer on the table.

“Nothing has changed in relation to the Turnbull government’s policy on schools funding,” he said in a statement.

The teacher’s union was disappointed that Gonski was no longer an option, saying that Turnbull’s “positive comments” on the program had caused many in the sector to be optimistic.

“I think it would be a shock to anyone waking up this morning,” the federal president of the Australian Education Union, Correna Haythorpe, told Guardian Australia. “People were very hopeful that the last two years would be funded.”

Shortly after becoming prime minister, Turnbull was asked if he would reconsider funding the fifth and sixth years of the Gonski funding.

“This is all being considered by the government in the context of a very tight budget,” he told the ABC in late October.

On Tuesday he said the Coalition’s education policy was up for review.

“The bottom line is that the funding after 2018 is still a matter for discussion between the federal government and the states,” he said in Victoria. “Funding is important, but there is a lot more to it, I think as we all know. The key element is teacher quality and we are very focused on that.

“Simon Birmingham, the education minister, is in discussion with his colleagues and the states, and we are certainly committed to ensuring that working together with the states, our common challenge has the outcome that all Australian kids get access to a high quality education.”

States have expressed their disappointment.

“I understand the budget pressures they are under but I strongly believe it is too early to make a decision in relation to that funding,” the New South Wales premier, Mike Baird, said.

“Yes, the funds might have to be found, but if we prove over the next two or three years that those funds are delivering better educational outcomes for our kids, particularly some of our most disadvantaged kids, what sort of government would not want to participate in that?”

Baird said NSW was committed to funding the full term of the policy and wanted the federal government to consider doing the same.

The acting Australian Capital Territory education minister, Mick Gentleman, said the government must be clear on how it was going to fund schools if it ditched the Gonski model, which allocates money to schools based on the individual needs of students.

“They have to move quickly to end the current uncertainty and begin negotiations with the states and territories and non-government sectors,” he said.

Education policy will shape up to be a “key election issue” in 2016, Haythorpe predicted.

Polling of just under 700 voters in Turnbull’s eastern Sydney electorate of Wentworth found that eight out of 10 voters supported increased funding for public schools in line with Gonski recommendations.

The ReachTel poll, conducted in October, found that 73% of Liberal voters supported the proposition.

Birmingham insisted that the federal government would stick with the needs-based policy championed in the Gonski reforms.

“The Turnbull government remains committed to engaging prior to 2018 in discussions with the states, territories and non-government sector about post-2017 funding that is fair, transparent, needs-based, affordable and looks beyond just a two year horizon,” he said.

Also read Lucy Clark's article:

And for Liberal ministers who can't read budget papers, here is a graph showing how the previous government funded Gonski

PS Thanks for 61000 views!

Monday, 28 December 2015

Victorian Government's response to Turnbull dumping Gonski

A plan by the Turnbull government to ditch the final two years of the Gonski school funding deal has drawn a furious reaction from the Victorian government, with the acting education minister branding it "sneaky and mean and tricky".
Fairfax Media revealed on Tuesday that the Turnbull government had made the decision to cut the funding, and did not plan to compete with Labor in an election-year battle to shower more money on schools.
In response, acting state education minister Jenny Mikakos has said the move by federal minister Simon Birmingham will have terrible consequences for Victoria.
"The Turnbull government has made it clear they are walking away from years five and six of the Gonski education funding [plan]," Ms Mikakos said. "This means that Victorian schools will lose $1 billion in funding."
This would pay for 8000 Victorian teachers, "or 10,000 allied health staff working to support our most disadvantaged students", she said.
And she said it was "particularly disappointing" voters were learning of this federal funding cut in the post-Christmas lull.
"This is sneaky and mean and tricky on the part of the Turnbull government. We were accustomed to Tony Abbott engaging in this kind of mean and tricky behaviour but Victorians expect more of Malcolm Turnbull," Ms Mikakos said.
She urged Canberra to reconsider the planned changes to the funding model.
In an interview with Fairfax Media published on Tuesday, Senator Birmingham said the Coalition would seek to strike fresh funding deals with the states from 2018 - the year two-thirds of the $10 billion Gonski funding was scheduled to start flowing.
Instead of handing out big funding increases, he said his focus will be on creating a simpler funding system that holds state governments accountable for how they spend federal money.
"I don't see much benefit for anyone if we dedicate two more years of funding just to create more uncertainty down the track," Senator Birmingham said.
"I want a school funding system that is genuinely needs-based and is targeting the money where it's most required."
On Tuesday, speaking at a press conference with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews at Wye River in the wake of the Christmas Day bushfires, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tried to calm concerns about the changes to the funding model.
"We are absolutely committed to all Australian kids getting a great education," he said. "Funding is important but there is a lot more to it. The key element is teacher quality. Our common challenge is that all Australian kids get access to a high-quality education."( Easy to say but actions speak louder than his words)
ALSO the NSW government says they will be $2.2 billion worse off because of this decision.

More budget cut blues in education

From the ABC

Fresh concerns have been raised over the potential consequences of the Federal Government's overhaul of the childcare sector.

The Government has proposed legislation that would end a program that provides funding for services specifically tailored for Indigenous children.

It wants to move these services into the mainstream funding system but Indigenous communities fear some centres will be forced to close as a result.

Yappera Children's Service, in Melbourne's north, is one of hundreds of centres around the country providing early education designed for Indigenous children.

The centre's chief executive officer Stacey Brown said she was worried about the future of the centre.

"I think that there's a lot of uncertainty under the new model of funding," Ms Brown said.

Child care providers say the changes will impact upon "vulnerable" families the most

"There's a lot of danger and our most vulnerable families will be the most impacted under this new model of funding.

"We see red flags that are going to impact on our families and I think that we will see those families no longer accessing our services in the future."

Services such as Yappera operate as part of a Government program called Budget Based Funded (BBF) services.

They receive an annual Government grant and some services do not charge parents any fees.

But the program is due to end by July 2017 when the Government's overhaul of the childcare sector comes into effect.

Services of this kind will have join other childcare centres under the mainstream funding model.

Leanne Gibbs from the Community Child Care Cooperative said the change will have big implications.

"Children will miss out because budget-based services and Aboriginal child and family services have been developed and established to meet the particular needs of Aboriginal children and families and they've been doing a fantastic job delivering that service," Ms Gibbs said.

"But trying to fit within a mainstream model means that those particular services won't be able to offer such an effective delivery of early childhood education.

"What I think we'll see with these proposals are more children missing out, rather than more children engaging and wherever we see children trying to fit in with a mainstream model, it just doesn't work."

But the Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the new funding regime will be simpler and fairer, claiming there were problems with the BBF program.

Ms Sydenham said BBF services played an important role in Indigenous communities which needed their own funding stream.

"They provide really quality early learning services but they also provide a huge scope of other services that support children's early development, that support families and particularly those most vulnerable families, they outreach to those families," she said.

"They really have that trusted relationship that supports families to deal with whatever crisis is coming up.

"So if these services go down, then the communities lose a lot more than child care.

"These are essential community hubs [and] we're really concerned [that] through this process are just not getting enough attention by the Government."

The Federal Opposition's Early Childhood spokeswoman Kate Ellis said she shared the concerns.

"What we do know is one service alone out of these Budget Based Funded services will be half a million dollars out of pocket," Ms Ellis said.

"So we fully expect that as a result of this change many of these services just will not be viable and will be shut down which means many of Australia's most disadvantaged children will be locked out of early childhood education.

"We know that in every single state and territory in Australia Indigenous children have lower participation rates in early childhood education and we all need to be working to close that gap, not shutting down services that some of them have access to."

On top of this the Health Minister has announced cuts to Medicare services related to treatments for ear, nose and throat complaints which will directly impact indigenous Australians especially in remote communities  who have particular heath issues in these areas. With their announcement on Gonski, Briggs quitting in disgrace and Brough being made to finally step down I wonder what other little gems will be announced between now and New Years?

Interesting story from the Independent

Australia is one of the very few countries in the OECD that publicly funds private schools. More than 40% of Australian secondary children now attend private schools - either so-called independent or religious schools. Australia has one of the most privatised school systems in the OECD.

Prior to 1972 no private schools received any government funding whatsoever in this country. While most OECD countries have a private school system, very few of them receive public funding. Think about England, the home of the elite private school, and the exclusive private schools in the USA: not one cent of taxpayer’s money goes into their budgets.

Chile’s divestment in private schools

It’s time to rethink this mistaken inequitable policy and, like Chile, stop all public funding to private schools and redirect it to disadvantaged public schools.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced a radical set of educational reforms last year that will dismantle the market-based approach in primary and secondary schooling.

Due to the market structure imposed in the 1980s by Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the education system is the most socioeconomically segregated in the OECD, favouring private, for-profit schools with nearly 52% of enrolled students attending them. The same thing has occurred here in Australia - not imposed by a dictator - but under our very noses.

These Chilean reforms include the end of public funding to private, for-profit schools, to make all primary and secondary education free of charge, and prohibit contested selective practices used in school admission processes. Their education reform bill is an upheaval of the system in order to change the benefits of education from being for an affluent minority to the deserving majority. These reforms are to be paid through new taxes on the wealthy and business.

So where is our (public) education money going?

New figures from the Productivity Commission show that government funding increases between 2008-09 and 2012-13 massively favoured private schools over public schools.

Funding for private schools in Victoria, for example, increased by 18.5% per student, or eight times that of public schools. Across Australia, the dollar increase for private schools was nearly five times that for public schools. The average increase for private schools was A$1,181 per student compared to only A$247 for public schools.

Other research indicates clearly that the equity gap between our school systems has continued to grow since the Gonski review in 2011.

Each private school pupil now receives, on average, a non-means-tested public subsidy of over A$8000 per year at the expense of the less privileged public school student. So much for the end of the age of entitlement.

In addition, pupils with disabilities in public schools receive up to A$12,000 of extra support while those in some private schools get more than A$30,000.

Do private schools outperform public schools? Is there a return on this public investment?

Parents can spend up to A$30,000 a year on private education. According to the Australian Scholarship Group, the forecast cost of sending a child to private school in Melbourne is $504,000 over 13 years of schooling after tax, in addition to the massive public subsidy these schools receive.

A new analysis of school NAPLAN test results shows that the results in like public schools are just as good as those in private schools. The analysis reported:

The often-presumed better results of private schools are a myth. Public schools are the equal of private schools. Public, Catholic and Independent schools with a similar socio-economic composition have very similar results.

Other research found similar results for HSC in NSW:

If you’re just looking at academic results, it probably isn’t worth paying all that money for an elite private school.

But don’t private schools save public money? We all pay taxes!

The private school lobby often makes this spurious claim alongside the claim that those who choose private schools already pay taxes so should receive at least a contribution from their taxes to pay for that education choice.

Independent Schools Victoria claims that sending a child to a private school is actually a saving to the taxpayer of A$5000 per student.

This is akin to the Automobile Chamber of Commerce suggesting the use of private cars not only saves public money on public transport but actually wanting their members to receive a subsidy on the purchase of their new Mercedes or BMW.

Similarly, no one believes that those choosing to use private toll roads should receive a subsidy for the use of the toll instead of driving on the public and free road system that their taxes have funded.

The massive ongoing disparity in funding increases for public and private schools is a national disgrace and scandal. The learning needs of disadvantaged students are being ignored by the priority given to funding more privileged sections of the community.

Unacceptably large percentages of low socio-economic status, Indigenous and remote area students do not achieve national standards in literacy and numeracy. There are huge achievement gaps between rich and poor schools.

More than 80% of low socio-economic and Indigenous students are enrolled in public schools. Only the full implementation of the Gonski recommendations would ensure that we improve educational outcomes in our under-resourced public schools without additional drain on the budget bottom line.

Given there is an ever-shrinking tax base, we need a discussion about gradually reducing public funding to private schools by 25% every four years until it is zero. This should give these schools time to get their budgets in order. Prior to 1972 they were doing quite well without public support.

Chile plans to present further legislation to Congress that would bring the country’s public schools, currently run by local municipalities, under direct control of the Ministry of Education. The legislation would also establish a national teaching policy and make higher education free to all but the richest families.

On the signing of the education reform bill, President Bachelet said:

Today we are fulfilling what we promised Chile, to begin a process of deep transformation of our education system, which will ensure quality, gratuity, integration and an end to profit-making in education. It is not fair that the resources of the Chilean people, instead of enriching our education, enriches private individuals.

If only such a commitment would be made by Australia’s political leaders.

Plants hanging in there

I went up to work to water the garden and found a few surprises ( our first tomato and a delicious little strawberry) but this early hot weather is going to make it tough to survive.

Gonski Shame


For the life of me I don't know why this is such a shock? Some people apparently thought PM Turnbull's close friendship with the man himself ( Gonski) would see the full, promised Gonski money flow through from the Commonwealth. I suppose they fooled some with his clap trap about innovation and thought a well educated country would be needed to deliver an innovative twenty first century economy......NOPE!
He had no intention of spending one extra red cent on state education.This is a disgrace but not a surprise.They are even peddling out the lie that the previous government hadn't funded the last two years. Of course they did, it is in the relevant  budget papers but again a government that is laying waste to our economy shouldn't be expected to be able to digest budget data! 

Reaction and condemnation was pretty quick ( Twitter went into over drive with tweets from Jane Caro, Dee Madigan, Senator Wong, and Tony Widsor among others) Gonski people are saying that Turnbull is backing away from his Minister ( which might be why another one of them has resigned today) but the reality is that other for a few niche issues that are electoral poison he is a carbon copy of Abbott and he and Pyne had 'a special affinity for private education' not state education. There have been $30 billion of cuts to state education already, they will not restore any of it let alone invest new money!

Below is Kate Ellis's ( Opposition Education Spokesperson) response to the news

The Turnbull Liberals have used the Christmas-New Year period to lock-in behind Tony Abbott's legacy on schools - confirming they will dump the needs-based Gonski reforms and keep his massive school cuts.

This comes after two consecutive Liberal budgets have stripped $30 billion from our classrooms over the next decade.

"This just proves Malcolm Turnbull is every bit as bad as Tony Abbott when it comes to schools," Shadow Education Minister, Kate Ellis, said.

"Any hope that a change in Liberal leader would save the Gonski reforms and undo their school cuts is now dead.

"These reforms are a once in a generation opportunity to lift results and close the gap between our schools, by giving every student the individual support they need to achieve their best.

"We are already seeing great results - but without the final two years students will simply be left behind.

"Literacy and numeracy programs will be cut; subject choices will be cut; sport and music will be cut; extension programs will be cut; remedial support will be cut; speech pathology and allied health services will be cut; and students with disability will not get the support they need. 

"Every student in every school will be worse off.

"The Liberals went to the last election promising an 'absolute unity ticket' on school funding - first Tony Abbott tore that unity ticket up, and now Malcolm Turnbull has set fire to it. 

"This is a huge betrayal of parents who simply want to know that their child will get a good education.

"In contrast to the Liberals, Labor will go to the next election with a much better plan for the future for Australian students - a properly-funded, sector-blind, needs-based school funding model that is consistent with the Gonski reforms."

And the story from the Sydney Morning Herald this morning ( I love the bit where Birmingham blames the evil unions for how government's spend their education budgets. He is peddling the same tired old 'class sizes don't matter' nonsense as if he was David Kemp and it was the 1990s! Mmmm what are those class sizes in elite private schools. I know for a fact it is rare for them to get over 20 in primary and much lower in secondary!)

The Turnbull government will not fund the final two years of the Gonski school funding deals and will not compete with Labor in an election-year battle to shower more money on schools, Education Minister Simon Birmingham says.

The elevation of Malcolm Turnbull - a close friend of school funding reform architect David Gonski - to the prime ministership gave some naive people the hope that the government would fund the six years of Labor's school agreements.

NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli and Victorian Education Minister James Merlino have been lobbying for the Gonski deals to be funded in full.

But in an interview with Fairfax Media, Senator Birmingham said the Coalition would seek to strike fresh funding deals with the states from 2018 - the year two-thirds of the $10 billion funding was scheduled to start flowing.

Instead of handing out big funding increases, he said his focus will be on creating a simpler funding system that holds state governments accountable for how they spend federal money.

"I don't see much benefit for anyone if we dedicate two more years of funding just to create more uncertainty down the track," Senator Birmingham said.

"The previous [Labor] government's approach showed great largesse in tipping additional funding into the system, but they created a complicated model that lacks fairness and transparency.

"I want a school funding system that is genuinely needs-based and is targeting the money where it's most required."

Senator Birmingham said he supports the underlying principles of the Gonski model - which distributes more funding to schools with disadvantaged students - but that simply spending more will not necessarily improve educational outcomes.

The minister said he hoped to negotiate new funding deals with the states to last at least four years from 2018. These are unlikely to be negotiated before the next federal election, which is due to be held in September or October.

Labor is set to go the election promising big increases in school funding paid for by raising tobacco taxes.

"We won't be driven by what Labor will or won't do," Senator Birmingham said. "We will run our own race."

In a signal to the states to expect tough negotiations, Senator Birmingham said the federal government does not have a "limitless" amount of money to spend on schools. The budget update released earlier this month showed the Commonwealth deficit blowing out by a further $26 billion over four years.

Many states are in fact in a better fiscal position than the federal government, he said.

In a significant change from the Abbott era, Senator Birmingham flagged a more interventionist role for the federal government in schools policy, with new funding tied to specific measures such as giving principals more control over their budgets and improved teacher quality.

Previous education minister Christopher Pyne sought to strip out the "command and control" features of the Gonski reforms, saying he would not "infantilise" the states by telling them how to spend money.

"There has been a very significant growth in funding to schools but that hasn't been matched with a clear focus on improving school outcomes," Senator Birmingham said.

"If you are going to deliver extra funding into the education system, it has to be clear how the money will be used."

He said some schools have done "fantastic things" with the extra Gonski money such as employing speech pathologists and investing in phonics teaching.

"But some officials have said, 'We're not quite sure what we're going to do with the extra money, we're just going to employ more teachers'," he said.

"We should not just follow the tired old union formula that smaller class sizes deliver better educational outcomes."

From the SBSs satirical ‘Backburner’ web site

The Turnbull Government has confirmed it will not be providing the funding for the final two years of the Gonski agreement saying that it became aware that this money was being wasted on the future of Australian children.

Reports indicate the Government became outraged when initial feedback revealed schools had been planning to spend Gonski funding on educational materials, teaching facilities and new construction instead of the initial plans to make sure the P&C fete is really off the hook.

The Turnbull Government has proposed renegotiation to take place as Gonski funding was originally planned to begin, declaring it time to reevaluate our expectations on education.

“We need to reexamine this agreement in great detail,” said Minister for Education Simon Birmingham. “We’re concerned that a lot of this funding is going towards the education of children that we’ve already pretty much written off. There are some real dead-end kids out there and our figures indicate it’s much cheaper to just forget about them.

“We need to make savings and the bloated and ritzy public education system is clearly the place to start. It’s time we stopped pouring money into schools that just spend it all on textbooks like a big bunch of nerds.

Sadly I can imagine them saying this! If you want to check out the planned (obscene)  excesses of some of Sydney’s ‘elite’ private schools check out this site: which highlight  Sydney's most expensive school renovationsA group of Sydney private schools are planning to spend up to $200 million in building new facilities.

(Also note a wannabe elite private school in Ballarat is currently building a ‘infinity pool’)

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Apologies to Richard Scarry but I couldn't resist.

It does look very busy but not much is getting done! sadly realistic.
My son loved these books and the cartoon. I think he also had a PC game he enjoyed.
Meanwhile 91 followers now on TPT and over 200 ratings!
I'd like to get 100 by the end of 2016. I should also notch up 100 items for sale or free. ( Probably too many free!) Also nearly 61000 Blog views and over 700 posts this year ( probably too many) Also 540 Twitter followers but that is only marginally related to education. I'm trying to be a good digital citizen but still don't like Facebook or Instagram. ( Gone off Pinterest but worth a look for art/craft ideas but I can't really be bothered pinning anymore except on my Learning With Literature board.)


A suspicious fire has engulfed Daylesford Secondary College, destroying half of the school. 

Country Fire Authority firefighters were called to the high school at 3.20am after fire broke out in the school's northern wing. Arson is suspected.

Firefighters took more than two hours to extinguish the blaze as huge plumes of smoke were seen from the school.

Sad to hear about Stevie Wright's death.
I couldn't find my old Easybeats vinyl today? I'm sure we will see it on CD in due course!

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Boxing Day stroll

I  needed to stretch my legs yesterday and had a walk around the gardens at Ballarat.

Good ideas by Sylvia Duckworth ( Find her on Twitter)

Reading Recovery working in NSW Catholic schools

One of the state's largest school networks has defended the under fire $55 million-a-year program that help students with reading problems, after a review by the NSW government found that the program did not work. 
Last week, The Sun-Herald revealed the Reading Recovery program had few long term benefits and was offered in too many schools, according to a report by the NSW Department of Education's Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation. 
The report found that the program had some impact on students who are really struggling with basic reading but the improvements are short-lived.
Earlier this year, influential US literacy academic Louisa Moats told Victorian bureaucrats that it was indefensible to spend money on the program, which is used in 960 NSW schools.

The Catholic Education Office, which is responsible for 580 schools throughout the state, has labelled the report a "misrepresentation." 
Data taken from Sydney Catholic Schools between 2010 and 2015 reveals that more than 90 per cent of its 1000 Reading Recovery students finished the program with reading levels equivalent to the rest of the state. 
Dr Dan White, the executive director of Sydney Catholic Schools, said the experience of students in Catholic schools was not the same as that outlined in the NSW government report. 
"There can be few greater gifts that we can provide to students than to teach them to read and to love reading," he said. 
"It is a shame that the effectiveness of a program that for more than 25 years has given the gift of reading to so many young learners is unfairly called into question by a misrepresentation of who the program was designed for or how it might have been implemented." 
One of the central criticisms of the NSW Department of Education's report was that short-term benefits of individual reading recovery programs tailed off once students graduated from the program. 
The report from Sydney Catholic Schools found contrary evidence to the review's findings. 
"NAPLAN data for Reading Recovery children in SCS shows that 90 per cent of Reading Recovery students perform at or above National Minimum Standards (NMS) in all areas of literacy assessment," the report said. "While less than 5 per cent did not achieve the Year 3 National Minimum Standard in all four literacy scales." 
The report found similar results in Year 5 NAPLAN marks.
"The data proves that it works," said Dr White. 
"There is a very good reason why Reading Recovery has been the preferred model of literacy intervention for students in Sydney Catholic schools for the past 25 years: it is because students benefit from it. That is why we will continue to use it." 
NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli is currently reviewing the program. "He has asked for advice on how the report's findings can be used to further refine the effective, targeted delivery of reading support to students needing it most," a spokeswoman said. 

Maybe it's the way it is being taught in state schools? Are the teachers properly trained? Is it one to one? Are they choosing the right children to receive intervention? I guess we will find out after Piccoli's review.

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