Sunday, 29 December 2019

Drug deaths increase in rural Australia.

More evidence of government neglect of rural Australia. It's not just education.....

Researchers at the University of New England have put together a list of actions policy-makers can take to get ahead of the trend.

Every year between 200,000 and 500,000 people go without help for drug and alcohol use, Rural criminology senior lecturer Dr Katinka van de Ven said.

"It comes down to policy, social, physical and economic conditions, one of the things that became apparent was the lack of accessibility to drug and alcohol treatment programs so people have to travel," she said.

Friday, 27 December 2019

More Christian schools

"Christian school enrolments have soared over the past five years, ... the rising influence of identity politics in many schools is alienating families with traditional values."

Story in the Australian ( of course)

The truth is....Christian schools grow courtesy of huge increases in public subsidy under Pentecostals running our country. Real funding for public schools cut by $17 per student (-0.2%) while funding for Catholics increased by $1,420 per student (18.4%) and Independent schools by $1,318 (20.9%)

Some interesting ideas

The Classroom Experiment' begins on BBC2 on Monday 27 September

Something we can all learn from: how to improve teaching techniques

* Stop students putting their hands up to ask questions – it's the same ones doing it all the time. Instead introduce a random method of choosing which pupil answers the question, such as lollipop sticks, and thus engage the whole class.

* Use traffic-light cups in order to assess quickly and easily how much your students understand your lesson. If several desks are displaying a red cup, gather all those students around to help them at the same time.

* Mini-whiteboards, on which the whole class simultaneously writes down the answer to a question, are a quick way of gauging whether the class as a whole is getting your lesson. This method also satisfies the high-achievers who would normally stick their hands up.

* A short burst of physical exercise at the start of the school day will do wonders for students' alertness and motivation. As any gym addict or jogger will tell you, it's all about the chemicals released into the brain.

* Ditch the obsession with grades, so that pupils can concentrate instead on the comments that the teacher has written on written classwork.

* Allow students to assess the teachers' teaching – they are the ones at the sharp end, after all. Letting pupils have a say is empowering and, if handled constructively, is highly enlightening.

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Bloody John Howard....

"In 1996 about one in 12.5 students transferred from the public to the private school system for high school, compared with one in 10 last year." The Howard govt effectively introduced a supply driven funding system privileging private schools. 
Funding has continued to privilege private schools at the expense of students with the greatest needs. "Between the 2007-08 and 2016-17 financial years, government funding per public school student increased 38.7 %...Government funding per non-government school student grew 61%"
The opportunity to turn this around was destroyed by the Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison govts when they tore up the Gonski funding reforms introduced in 2013 denying public schools billions of dollars.
Despite this, public schools continue to perform as well, if not better, than private schools. Imagine how much more could be achieved if public schools received the funding our students actually need and deserve.

Oh....Merry Christmas!

Friday, 20 December 2019

From Jane Caro

Dear Australian public schools, thanku 4 punching above ur weight 4 yet another year. Thanku 4 ignoring the rank hostility our federal govt has demonstrated to you in both principle & reality. Thank you for doing your best for the kids you teach regardless of govt disdain.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Water theft

The Tamborine Mountain state school has run out of water, even as water miners in the Gold Coast hinterland are sending millions of litres to commercial bottling operations.

Trucks sent by the Queensland government carrying emergency supplies to the school, including Mount Tamborine bottled water, have been passing trucks heading in the opposite direction taking local water to bottling plants for beverage giants such as Coca-Cola.

The school remains open but parents have been advised by teachers to consider keeping their children at home.

Water miners in the Mount Tamborine area supply roughly 130m litres of water each year to commercial bottling operations. Now the local bores are running dry.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019


75% Aust children attend public schools receive 20% of federal funding, whilst the 25% of Aust children who attend private schools receive 80%.  Private students receive approx $1000 more.  Inequity.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Unfucking believable!

From today's AGE ( Tehan has an idea....)

Peter Goss, school education program director at the Grattan Institute, said learning progressions were a tool to help teachers provide targeted instruction for students.

"In today's world, too many schools are having to create their own understanding of learning progressions. That's massively inefficient and probably also lower quality," he said.

"[It's much better] to develop national learning progressions, offer them to schools along with resources that can help teachers use the learning progressions in practice."

Dr Goss warned the method was "no panacea" and needed to be implemented properly and carefully otherwise they would just add to teachers' workloads.

This is from the idiots that scrapped the National Curriculum years ago.

Monday, 9 December 2019

Another Edn Minister meeting wasted?

Australia could transform its teaching workforce for $620 per student p.a., with a structured career path for expert teachers to support other teachers - Rec. 16 in #Gonski 2.0.

This is what Ed ministers should discuss in Alice Springs!


Residents will lose the right to object to the building of new private schools under planning laws designed to "fast-track" the development of the Catholic and independent sectors.

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Inequity 2

The media has been flooded with stories since the PISA results were released but I don’t remember anyone talking about our alarming rise in inequality. Yet we demand radical change if a middle-class child gets stressed about their Australian Tertiary Admission Rank score. We are too willing to ignore equity problems in our system. We are much happier pretending that our problems are about higher order thinking and differentiation. The evidence does not support this. In fact, the ­opposite is true.

Ben Jensen is chief executive of Learning First, an education research consultancy.


“Those schools are able to choose their students, the minute a kid acts up, they can be suspended or expelled. It is the ability of schools to select their students that creates inequity which is one of the structural weaknesses of Australian education,” @PiccoliMp

Funding farce continues

The federal government has knocked back a bipartisan call for increased scrutiny of school funding, rejecting the push amid rising alarm about the decline in Australian students' academic results.

Earlier this year, a Coalition-dominated parliamentary committee criticised the "inadequate" administration of tens of billions of dollars in federal funds and said the money was not being distributed in a transparent and accountable way. The committee suggested it was difficult to know if the funding was ultimately going to students based on need.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Brilliant idea! NOT!

The Department of Education will be merged with the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business as part of an extraordinary overhaul of Australia’s public service announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison today.

The dramatic consolidation, approved by the Governor-General this morning and due to take effect on February 1 2020, includes clashing the number of government departments from 18 to 14 to “ensure that Australians rely on are delivered more efficiently and effectively”.

However, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese expressed concern over the government's move.

"This is about centralising power," Albanese told reporters today.

"This prime minister has been making cuts to the public service continuously since they were elected in 2013."

Australian Greens Senator and Education Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi called the proposed merger of the Department of Education with Skills and Employment a “huge mistake”.

“Merging the departments of education and employment is a short-sighted decision that highlights the Government’s narrow, neoliberal idea of education,” Senator Faruqi said.

“Education is a public good essential to building a socially and economically just society, not just an avenue to employment or profit – it demands a standalone focus.”

Senator Faruqi said the existing merger of skills with the employment department has “undermined lifelong education”.

“This decision takes us further down this path and is a huge mistake,” she said.

“Mergers inevitably result in huge amounts of money wasted on consultants and some new letterheads while nothing is done to properly fund public schools or save TAFE”.

Berwick Lodge Primary School principal Henry Grossek, who has been an educator for 50 years, said the amalgamation is "not in the best interests of education" and "devalues one of the most important portfolios that the government has".

"This is a downgrading of the importance of education at a time when Minister Tehan is publicly airing concerns over the lowering of Australia's PISA results," Grossek told The Educator.

"In a government that's working well, a Minister talking to a Minister is a much more reliable communication network than just one Minister talking to many other bureaucrats".

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Why are creepy old white guys checkeding out girl's legs?

"At the end of the year meeting yesterday, all the boys were told to leave, the doors were closed and the girls were informed that if their skirts were too [short], they had to use one of the unpickers provided to lengthen them"."

The headmaster of the prestigious St Andrew's Cathedral School has apologised to Year 12 girls over a uniform check that forced some to unpick the hem of their skirt.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Cheerio ACARA

The national authority for Australia’s curriculum and the NAPLAN test could be scrapped in a move that would give state and territory governments greater control over teacher standards and education reform.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

Football and the AFL

The AFL and private schools

"Geelong Grammar's got a bigger salary cap than Collingwood," quipped one AFL official, explaining how so much talent had been herded into the boarding houses and immaculate fields.

Whereas the rugby codes, from the outset, were divided along class lines – traditional rugby union was the domain of the upper crust from private schools in NSW and Queensland, while upstart rugby league was the blue-collar game – Australian Rules owed its strength to the fact that it was played and watched by all-comers, by the sons of investment bankers and tradies, by lawyers and labourers, suits and singlets.

Footy remains the glue that binds disparate stratas in the southern states.

Yet the drift towards private-schooled footballers in this egalitarian code is undeniable. According to the APS' figures, just over a quarter – 25.6 per cent – of the players drafted to AFL clubs in 2017 came from the 11 schools who make up the APS, which also supplied four of the first five picked. That's just 11 schools from one state, out of 2755 Australian schools that run to year 12 (2018).

The 11 schools are cradles of the country's owners and decision-makers: Melbourne Grammar, Scotch College, Geelong Grammar, Xavier College, Wesley College, St Kevin's College, Haileybury College, Caulfield Grammar, Brighton Grammar, Geelong College and Carey Grammar.

In 2018, the percentage drafted from these elite 11 schools was 24.3 per cent and, on the basis of the AFL website's phantom draft, the APS, AGS and schools with that stature in Adelaide and Perth are forecast to account for at least 17 of the first 30 next week. The definition of "elite" precludes the likes of established and well-regarded Catholic colleges such as St Joseph's Geelong, St Patrick's in Ballarat and Whitefriars (Donvale), whose alumni account for 31 current AFL players.

"The trend has sort of come through the last five to six years and it's increasing every year," said Luke Soulos, the executive officer for APS sport since 2003, of the private schools' share.

Their business model

From Dale Pearce on Twitter this morning, about private schools

It’s their business model and it applies equally as well to sport as academic pursuits. Find the best talent in state schools, poach them then use their success to attract others. Spectacularly successful. They’re caught in the game as well. Defund them.

And Rohan Connolly

As a product of a government school, this is fucked. Will the game’s administrators (most of whom came through the private schools) act to give ALL kids a better chance? Governments of both persuasions certainly don’t seem to give a toss.… via @theage

Friday, 22 November 2019


Two in five parents would choose a different school for their children if they had the choice again.

But parents were less likely to have regrets if they did their own research by visiting the school, speaking to staff or using information on the My School website, rather than relying on word of mouth or doing no research.

Adrian Piccoli, director of the Gonski Institute for Education - a think tank focusing on equity in schooling - said parents who chose non-government schools might have felt more satisfied because those schools could choose their students, while public schools were required to take everybody.

"Private schools can essentially select who their cohort is, and that's a big advantage," he said. "If you are a student and your parents are happy to pay the school fees but you are running amok ... that school can, one way or the other, get you out."

Professor Piccoli said satisfaction included factors that were beyond schools' control. "If a student's experience hasn't been what you might have expected, it's not just the school," he said. "It might be the student and all the other influences on that student."

The poll also found 88 per cent of parents thought their school was at least adequately resourced, including 86 per cent of students at government schools. Parents' spending priorities were facilities and extra curricular activities.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Shaking in my boots

ABC: New data shows One Nation supporters are notably less satisfied with teachers and the education system than any other voters, with conservatives warning a "tide is turning" and parents will look for alternatives.
I’d be worried if they were satisfied. As to looking for alternatives...well, knock yourself out!

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Gender decline

Students are paying the price for a decades-long "steady and stable" decline in the proportion of teachers who are male across Australia, Macquarie University researchers say.

In 1977, men were 28.5 per cent of primary school teachers and 54 per cent of secondary school teachers.

Forty years later, men were 18.25 per cent of primary school teachers and 40 per cent of secondary teachers.

Thursday, 14 November 2019


A bill that passed the Ohio House of Representatives this week would force public schools to accept scientifically incorrect answers if those answers align with the student’s religion.

In addition to allowing religious expression-based work, the ‘Student Religious Liberties Act’

  • Requires public schools to give students who belong to religious groups the same access to facilities as secular groups (eg. drama club, choir.)

  • Removes a provision that allows school districts to limit religious expression to outside the classroom.

  • Allows students to engage in religious expression before, during and after school hours to the same extent as a student in secular activities.

On Wednesday, the bill passed by a vote of 61-3, with every Republican representative voting in favour.

The bill will now pass into the state Senate, which is majority-held by Republicans.

Dr David Smith, senior lecturer at University of Sydney's United States Studies Centre, calls the bill “unusual”, even for a conservative state like Ohio.

“There have been quite a few other states that have passed Student Religious Liberties Acts including Mississippi and Arizona,” Dr Smith told The Feed.

“But this is the first one I’ve seen that goes into the realm of not penalising students for the religious content of their work.”

In 2013, the Mississippi Senate passed a Student Religious Liberties Act that prohibited teachers from disciplining students who expressed anti-LGBTQI+ views if those views aligned with their religion.

Unsurprisingly, the Ohio bill has attracted a number of critics.

“Critics have said that this law will allow students to say that the world was created 10,000 years ago and not be penalised for it,” Dr Smith says.

“The sponsors of the law are saying something a little different. They’re saying it’s not a free pass to say whatever you want, it still has to be consistent with academic standards.”

Republican sponsor of the Ohio bill, Timothy Ginter said that allowing religious expression would be positive because, “Young people are experiencing stress and danger and challenges we never experienced growing up.”

Democrats opposed to the bill have labeled it “redundant”.

“We already have religious freedom protected at the federal and state level," said Solon Democrat Phillip Robinson.

While most public schools in the US don’t teach intelligent design or creationism, there are exceptions like Louisiana, where the Science Education Act allows for teaching materials that are critical of evolution.

Dr Smith sees the Ohio bill as “A lawsuit waiting to happen.”

The text of the law is not entirely clear. There will be some case that happens very early on that will go through the courts and establish what this law actually means,” he says.

However, if the Ohio bill passes the Senate, Dr Smith expects a lot of copycat bills in other states.

“While this law is unusual, the politics that have produced the law is not unusual,” Dr Smith said.

“What we’ve seen in the US over the last couple decades is that conservative legislation like this isn’t just formulated by concerned lawmakers at a state level; it’s drafted up at national conferences by organisations like the American Legislative Exchange Council.”

In Australia, the School Education Act 1999 prohibits curriculum or teachers promoting any specific religion.

The theory of evolution is a mandatory part of the national curriculum for year nine and 10 science students. 

HOORAY: 186000 views!

Sunday, 10 November 2019

They must need all that money.....

Government funding for Australia's Catholic and independent schools grew at almost twice the rate of public schools in the decade to 2018, new analysis shows.

Nah...there's no such thing as climate change...?

More than 350 schools and TAFE campuses will be closed tomorrow in Sydney, the Hunter region, Blue Mountains and the south coast due to forecast "catastrophic" fire conditions.

The NSW Department of Education has published a full list of site that will be closed — this number is expected to rise as authorities continue to carry out risks assessments.

Early on Monday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian declared a state of emergency for NSW for the next seven days.

In Sydney, some of the suburban schools earmarked for closure include Manly Vale Public School, Menai High School, Oatley West Public School and Lindfield Learning Village. 

In the Blue Mountains the department is shutting down a number of schools including Katoomba High School and Leura Public School, while on the south coast and in the Illawarra, Mount Kembla Public School and Vincentia High School are among the schools closing.

On the Central Coast, Avoca Beach Public School and Blue Haven High School will be among those that shut down for the day.

The Premier ( along with our idiot Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister ) still won't acknowledge the impact of climate change for there own perverse ideological reasons. 

Friday, 8 November 2019

One day...working class voters in rural Australia will realise the National Party doesn't give a fuck about them or their children.

Government schools will not be eligible for $10m in new education funding announced in Thursday’s drought package, prompting the teachers’ union to argue the measure is elitist and unfair.

The Australian Education Union’s president, Correna Haythorpe, said it was “another slush fund for private schools” on top of the $1.2bn Choice and Affordability fund for Catholic and independent schools, which also included money for drought-affected areas.

On Thursday the education minister, Dan Tehan, announced the Coalition would provide “$10m for schools that are impacted by drought so that they can provide relief to families” – modelled on its response to the Queensland floods – and an extra $5m for childcare centres.

Labor’s education spokeswoman, Tanya Pliberksek, said it was “terrific that schools will get some extra help during the drought” but said: “What about public schools?

“Public schools students and parents are struggling through this terrible drought, too. What is Scott Morrison going to do to help them?”

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

What the actual fuck?

The Municipal Association of Victoria has made the proposal in a submission to the state government's rates review.

The Ballarat Courier

Universities and fucking private schools don’t pay council rates!!! What the fuck!!!!!

Interesting development

The mother of a 17-year-old autistic boy has sued the state of Victoria over a government school’s alleged "abandonment" of her son’s education and failure to teach him the curriculum.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Never in my school

Facial recognition has moved into Australian schools - with help from the Federal Government. Five schools are now trialling the technology, but the move has alarmed some State Governments including my own.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Traffic impacts for private school.

In Australia today, just over 40% of secondary school children and almost 30% of primary school children attend a private school. By contrast, in the UK only 7% of children are privately educated

Our research shows not only do more students travel by car to private secondary schools in Australia, their car trips are almost twice as long as for government school students. As these trips are in peak hour, private schooling has a disproportionate impact on traffic congestion.

Commonwealth subsidies of private schools and their charitable status have underpinned skyrocketing enrolments. Questions over whether private schools should pay taxwhy they offer questionable graduate outcomes, their tendency towards “white flight” and social polarisation, and basic fairness have long been debated. 

But what if, in weighing up the pros and cons of private schooling, and in calculating their economic costs versus benefits, we’ve all missed something rather important? Until now, no one has considered the impacts on city traffic.

We’re helping the Queensland government improve its main transport models for Brisbane and southeast Queensland. Experts use these models to assess the best policies and projects to try to save us from congestion and to provide access to the goods, jobs and services we all need in life.

What did the research find?

We are looking at how one might better model school travel. To do so we explored the latest data from the Queensland Household Travel Survey. The datasets include all the trips to school made by over 3,000 primary and secondary school children. These surveys do not report if the child went to a public or private school. But we used advanced computing methods to match the school trip destinations with a set of known public and private school locations in the South East Queensland region. This created the first set of public-versus-private school trips we know of. 

We could then look at the share of trips made by walking, cycling, public transport and car. We were also able to report the distances travelled to the different school types. 

We presented our results in Canberra at the Australasian Transport Research Forum.

At the primary school level, where fewer children attend private schools and the lower-cost Catholic school system plays a bigger role, the differences are modest. A slightly greater share of children are driven to private schools, but the average distance for those car trips is only around one kilometre more. It’s a problem, but one of similar scale to the unsustainable and unhealthy journeys made to public primary schools across Australia.

At secondary school level, where the non-Catholic independent schools have greater market share, only 1.5% more children are driven to private secondary schools (56.5% to 54.9%) and a few more drive themselves. But the car trips to those schools are almost twice as long as to the public schools.

The private secondary school children are travelling 7.8km each way, on average, to get to and from school. As this is school travel, it happens in the morning peak hour, the worst time for traffic congestion in our cities. Private secondary schooling appears to have a highly disproportionate impact.

The landscape of private schooling in southeast Queensland is problematic. Newer private schools have opened in odd locations on the edges of existing communities, or well beyond the suburban fringe. Even some of the older established GPS schools (the “elite” ones) are far from public transport. A few offer private buses, but many parents are left with little choice. They have to chauffeur their children. 

Does the extra car travel matter?

Education departments probably don’t care. But if governments are focused on reducing congestion, which their transport departments all are, and if they are looking to reduce school-related congestion effects, then private secondary schools are the worst offenders. 

We can’t just look to the transport departments to fix such problems. They’re not responsible for creating the unsustainable car-based schooling landscape they somehow must try to serve. 

It should also worry us for the individuals involved. Car-based travel is far from optimal for children’s development. 

A litany of studies show physically active travel such as walking and cycling, including to and from public transport, is better for physical and mental health, as well as for social connectedness. The links between children’s physical activity and student learning are also well established.

Given road congestion costs in Australia are expected to exceed A$30 billion a year by 2030, we suggest the congestion costs of Australia’s private school funding model should be fully calculated, costed and included when we weigh up the costs and benefits. The Commonwealth has options should it wish to tighten up in other ways. This would include not financially supporting any new private schools located far from existing communities or good public transport services.

Comment on this article

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Rorting arseholes

‘Australia’s richest private schools – which charge students as much as an astonishing $70,000 a year for boarding and tuition – can access cash assistance from a new $1.2 billion taxpayer-funded slush fund’ 
Public schools get zip. Arseholes.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Awwwww I feel so sorry for them.

Fee increases at non-government schools are running at nearly twice the rate of inflation and have outpaced wage growth every year for a decade, adding to cost stresses felt by the 1.3 million families who pay for private education.......
The usual shit from the Financial Review . Feel so sorry for these people...not!

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Secret Catholic school funding

Catholic schools in NSW receive $300 million in taxpayer funding every six months but face far less scrutiny from the state government over outcomes and performance than public schools, prompting calls for greater transparency.

While NSW Treasury officials pored over NSW Department of Education (DOE) budgets this year, the NSW government's only budgetary oversight of the Catholic sector's annual funding was a one-page document stating how much money it would be paid.

Former NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said the document, obtained by Greens MP David Shoebridge under freedom of information, showed that schools receiving large amounts of public money were not subject to enough scrutiny.

"They get more public money than quite a few government agencies," Mr Piccoli said. "I'm not suggesting they are doing anything wrong. But the public has a right to know what's happening inside the schools that are getting that money."

Catholic Schools NSW said the document was a payment notice, not an accountability document, and did not reflect its reporting requirements to the state government, which were set out elsewhere, such as the education act and regulations set out by the NSW Education Standards Authority.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Private school there’s s surprise.

The blonde girls are in focus, studious kids are Asian and only white boys get a kick, a study of the images used in promotional material for Victorian schools has found.

Deakin University's Trevor McCandless analysed the marketing materials in government, Catholic and independent schools for his PhD thesis to see how these represented "the schools' best guess at what parents find attractive for their children".

The darker a student's skin, the less likely they are to be the centre of attention in the image or even in focus," he said.

While schools rarely mentioned ethnicity in written text, Dr McCandless' PhD thesis found they uniformly picked images in their prospectuses and videos that suggested unconscious stereotypes, resulting in a "colour-coded hierarchy [that] is repeated to the point of tedium".

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Israeli legal system helps out child abuser.....again!

An Israeli court has granted bail to Malka Leifer, a former Melbourne private school headteacher wanted on 74 charges of child sexual abuse in Australia.

In a twist in the judicial saga that has dragged on for five years, Leifer is due to again be placed under house arrest. She was re-arrested just last year after police accused her of feigning mental illness.

Judges ruled the prosecution had until Friday to appeal the decision, which would have Leifer live at her sister’s house near Tel Aviv.

Manny Waks, founder of Kol V’Oz, an Israel-based organisation against child sex abuse in the global Jewish community, said the decision was “an absolute travesty and continues to bring shame on the State of Israel”.

From the Guardian

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Could ( I know they won't) Labor de-fund private schools? I know the answer.

The UK’s Labour Party recently voted in a policy to effectively abolish private schools and integrate them into the state system.

This is a courageous move designed to redress social inequity – many of those working in the top levels of the UK government were educated in private schools. Two of Britain’s three most recent prime ministers went to the prestigious Eton College, which charges annual fees of more than £40,000.

The UK opposition party’s plan will likely warm the hearts of similarly minded Australians. Many of the same arguments about educational inequality have been floated in Australia. Many individuals and organisations have also, for years, been calling for the government to stop funding non-government schools.

But implementing a policy in Australia like that proposed in the UK would prove very difficult. For one thing, it’s a matter of numbers. Only 5% of the United Kingdom’s students go to a private school. The challenges are magnified in Australia where nearly 15% of students are enrolled in independent schools and nearly 20% in Catholic parish schools. 

But beyond that, Australia’s complex set of school governance structures would make such a move very unlikely to succeed.

Eight education systems

Under UK Labour’s proposal, if it took office, private schools would lose their charitable status and any other public subsidies or tax breaks. Their endowments, investments and properties would be “redistributed democratically and fairly across the country’s educational institutions”.

For Australia to do the same, at the outset, it would be a constitutional issue. The Australian Constitution empowers states and territories to provide school education, thus creating eight different education systems. For Australia to abolish private schools like that proposed in the UK, a choice from three possible processes would need to occur to get around this issue. 

First, Australia could change the Constitution. Second, all states and territories could voluntarily cede their powers for schooling back to the Commonwealth. Or third, each state and territory government could agree to enact the policy in its own jurisdiction. 

Only eight of the proposed 44 changes to the Australian Constitutionhave been agreed to since Federation. And given the political territorialism that exists between states and territories, it is hard to imagine any of these solutions being implemented.

Assuming one of the above could be enacted, taking over existing non-government schools would be further complicated by the diverse nature of school governance structures. Australia’s different school governance structures would make it almost impossible to cede all private education to the Commonwealth. from

In addition to being registered with their relevant state or territory government authority, more than 1,000 non-government primary and secondary schools are registered with the Australian Not-for-profit Charities Commission

This means there are no “owners” who financially gain from operating the school. Financial surpluses are not distributed to shareholders but must be reinvested in the school.

For a government to take over a not-for-profit charity in such a way would cause extreme anxiety to the thousands of community organisations which also exist under this legal structure. 

Another group of non-government schools are governed by church authorities. A school such as William Clarke College in Sydney’s north-west, for instance, is governed by an ordinance of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney whose own authority is derived from state legislation. A smaller number of schools, such as Newington College in NSW or the eight Queensland Grammar Schools, are governed directly through acts of parliament. 

To absorb these schools into one government system would require a change to a range of legislation covering charitable and religious organisations. Given various state and territory governments can’t even agree on the age students should start school, achieving consistency in the legislative realm seems remote. 

We should keep working to reduce inequality

Advocates of private schooling in the UK have hit back at Labour’s proposal, indicating lengthy, and costly, legal challenges. These could range from parents’ rights to make choices for their childrens’ development (enshrined in Article 18 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) through to property and charitable trust laws

Resistance to the proposed policy change from the UK Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (that describes itself as an association of heads of “some of the world’s leading independent schools”) is already fierce and suggests the same would likely be the case in Australia. 

One consequence of inaction is growing inequity. Successful education systems prioritise equity and quality. Analysis of social disadvantage by the OECD found more than 52% of Australian disadvantaged students are enrolled in disadvantaged schools. This is compared to the OECD average of 48% and 45% in the UK (world leaders are Nordic countries at an average of 43%). 

Australian analysis also highlights a growing concentration of advantaged students are already in educationally advantaged schools. 

Creating a socially and politically just education system is a worthy objective. But it’s not just a public-private issue. 

Segmented schooling also exists in some Australian government schooling jurisdictions. For example, NSW has a highly stratified government education system which includes single-sex schools and various selective schools (academic, performing arts, sports and technology schools). 

This creates enrolment interest from families living outside local communities, exacerbating infrastructure pressures in government schools. And some of NSW’s selective schools have concentrations of students who are far wealthier than in some private schools. 

The debate over what our society wants from schooling is about equitable opportunities for everyone. The policy outlined by the UK’s Labour Party raises fundamental questions about the role and process of education in society. There seems value to ask the same for Australia.

The fact is Australia has one of the most socially segregated education systems in the world, & despite knowing exactly which schools need additional resources, the Federal Government has entrenched a schools funding regime that shifts billions to advantaged children.

From the Independent 

Friday, 27 September 2019

Bloody Finns

Full story in the Guardian
Finland: "In class children are listened to, respected, school lunches are free, detentions are rare & exclusions pretty much unheard of. Kuusimäki gave his last detention 15yrs ago, & is visibly horrified at the idea of excluding a child from school."

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Story from 2017 and we are yet to see it happen.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham released a report today recommending that all Year 1 students in Australia complete a phonics test.

The panel responsible for the report has recommended that Australia adopt the Year 1 phonics screening check that has been used in England since 2011.

But what is it? And will it help children learn to read and write?

What is phonics?

Phonics is the process of matching sounds to letters. It is an important skill when learning to read and write in English.

There are two main approaches to teaching children phonics — synthetic phonics and analytic phonics.

Analytic phonics starts with taking a word that children know the meaning of, and then analysing it to see how the sounds in the word match the letters we see within the word.

So five-year-old Emma will learn that her name starts with the sound "e" which is represented by the capital letter E, followed by the sound "m" which is represented by the two letters "mm", and ends with the sound "u", which is represented by the letter a.

Synthetic phonics starts with letters which the children learn to match with sounds. The meaning of the words are irrelevant, and indeed, inconsequential.

The theory is that the children should master letter/sound matches first before trying to attend to meaning.

Which phonics method is better?

There is no evidence that one phonics approach is better than the other. In England, the US and Australia, there have been major inquiries into reading and all have concluded that systematic and explicit phonics teaching is a crucial part of effective reading instruction.

But none have found any evidence that synthetic phonics approaches are better than analytic phonics approaches, or vice versa.

All inquiries have concluded that whatever phonic instruction method is chosen, it should be one part of a suite of skills children should have when learning to read.

What is the phonics test?

The phonics test is based on synthetic phonics. The children are given 40 words on a computer screen, with no context. The words are not put in a sentence, or given any meaning.

This is deliberate, and an important feature of a synthetic phonics approach, as the children must show they are not relying on meaning or prior experience with the word in order to successfully decode it.

To this end, 20 of the words the children are given are nonsense words, like "thrand", "poth" and "froom", to ensure they are not using meaning to decode the words.

Why are we introducing it?

Senator Birmingham is concerned about the numbers of students in Australia who are struggling with literacy.

The decline in literacy standards of Year 9 students is very concerning, and he is right to be looking for solutions. But the solution will not be found in this phonics test for six-year-olds.

As the test has been has already been in use for six years in England we are fortunate to be able to learn from their experience.

A major evaluation of the test conducted by the Department for Education in England found that the test is not delivering improvements in literacy capabilities, and in fact, is delivering some unwanted side effects, like class time being spent learning to read nonsense words rather than real words.

Numerous other recent studies of the implementation of the phonics test in England provide valuable information that allow us to test the claims for the test against research evidence.

What does the research say?

Claim: The phonics test has improved reading results in England since its introduction.

Evidence: Year 1 children in England are certainly getting better at passing the phonics test. Over the past six years, pass rates have increased by 23 per cent. This means around 90 per cent of Year 1 children in England can now successfully read nonsense words like "yune" and "thrand".

However research has found that the ability to read nonsense words is an unreliable predictor of later reading success.

And so far, the phonics test in England has not improved reading comprehension scores.

As the test only tests single syllable words with regular phonic patterns, it is not possible to know how many English children can read words like "one", "was", "two", "love", "what", "who", or "because", as such words are not included in the test.

This is unfortunate because these are amongst the 100 most common words in the English language, which in turn make up 50 per cent of the words we read everyday — whether in a novel, a newspaper article or a government form.

"Yune", "thrand" and "poth", on the other hand, make 0 per cent of the words we read.

Claim: The phonics test will pick up children who are having reading difficulties. Senator Birmingham has stated "the idea behind these checks is to ensure students don't slip through the cracks".

Evidence: Research in England has found that the test was no more accurate than the teacher's judgement in identifying children with reading difficulties. Teachers already know which children struggle. As researchers, teachers and principals have all said — teachers need more support in knowing how to support those struggling children.

Claim: The phonics test will provide detailed diagnostics to support teachers to make effective interventions. The chair of the panel recommending the test says that the phonics test will drill into the detail of phonics to establish what children know.

Evidence: A thorough analysis of the test's components found it fails to test some of the most common sound/letter matches in English, and indeed screens for a very limited number of the hundreds of sound/letter matches in English. They found that children can achieve the pass grade of 32 from 40 with only limited phonic knowledge.

Other research found the test fails to give any information about what the specific phonic struggles of a child might be , or whether the struggles are indeed with phonics.

These limitations mean the check has negligible diagnostic or instructional use for classroom teachers.

Learning lessons

Australia is in the fortunate position of being able to learn from the research that has been conducted since the implementation of the phonics test and mandatory synthetic phonics teaching in England. The lesson is clear. The test is unable to deliver what was hoped. Australia should look elsewhere for answers to its literacy challenges.

Already state education ministers have begun to let Senator Birmingham know that they will not be taking up the offer of the national phonics test.

This may be an issue where Australia is able to overcome its intellectual cringe, and act on the research evidence rather than old colonial ties.