Cheating or Practising

 The Treehorn Express

Treehorn story?

The Treehorn Express Theme song: ‘Care for Kids’


How to make a mockery of Australian Schooling

The full-school staff meeting on Monday, 2 March was about practising. With great emotion, the principal of a private school instructed the teachers of Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 to practise for the NAPLAN tests as often as possible. When asked about commitments to music and the like, she replied that normal time-table allocations between subjects were  not applicable until after the tests in May. Homework was to form part of the practice and any complaints from parents should be referred to her. The teachers could use the practice books as much as they liked. The message to the school staff [according to my gym friend who grinned slyly as she told me that she taught Year 1] was : “Go for it. Our reputation is at stake. Practise! Practise! Practise!”

This is an Australian schooling exemplar at its operational best… But….Hold it…

That’s cheating, isn’t it? After all, grand conclusions are reached and headlines scream about the results with no reference to school time-table allocations.  It seems so obvious that NAPLAN blanket testing has nothing whatsoever to do with learning; and its encouragement of practice-style pedagogy prostitutes teaching as well.

ACARA is happy with its internal methods of establishing validity and reliability, with its use of common scales and its ways of equating the tests. It would be happier, of course, if all the developing robot-style pupil-contestants had started off the school year on an equal footing, possessing the same levels of knowledge and, then, by May, the tests would measure up to its idealistic judgements. It could point and wave fingers with reliability at the miscreant teachers who did not follow the prescribed mathematics and grammar test-preparation as well as ordered; risking lower scores. That’s what it is all about. Scores and accusations.

Developmental syllabuses usually intertwine to help the whole child grow, and it would be nice for parents to feel  that their children were progressing favourably on the whole school curriculum. They can do this simply by talking with the child’s teacher. If the parents know of the year-by-year  goals in their child’s music, art, health, social accomplishments and other school-based learnings, they can discuss things with their child in the presence of their teacher as often as they wish. The syllabus goals are usually available in understandable terms on school documents.

Schools syllabuses are written interpretations of what is expected at a particular age level, compiled by or supplied to the school with, perhaps, suggestions from its main authority, filtered from an overall suitable curriculum. A syllabus states the necessary action without defining the reasons for the action. The curriculum itself outlines guiding principles for teaching something to somebody. It explains the reasons for action without defining the action. A useful curriculum suggests seamless development and integration of subject matter as much as possible, reflecting children’s experience in ordinary life situations.

Parents will want to get opinions as to  their child’s knowledge of age-level knowables [the syllabus if you like]: what the world looks like and what we do for it; with knowing the story of our great country and its part in world development; with their child’s achievements and level of love for mathematics as well as in their growth and interest in the challenges of our changing language. Talking to a teacher about how well one’s child is progressing in all aspects of the required curriculum is easy to arrange and is more reliable and valid than any form of written test, even school-based ones. If the  child’s self-evaluation of progress [the only meaningful kind of evaluation] is shared with those that he/she respects, there is no reason for expensive and useless blanket testing.

NAPLAN testing is totally unnecessary. It dismisses self and shared evaluation which is directly linked to the learning task at hand. It has a explicit barren view of the teaching-learning act; of pupilling; of learnacy. It should cease forthwith.

This would save taxpayers millions and millions of dollars. If any parent wants to compare their school with another, try the sports field, not the classroom. The scores there are just as reliable as NAPLAN scores.

In our politically inspired, dumbed-down mockery-up of schooling, Australia follows the New York penchant for limiting child growth by measuring, measuring, measuring. Then, if the scores don’t measure-up, the teachers are VAMed.  It’s a New York state of mind, bordering on mafia-style control of operations. A numbers racket, it is a schooling system run by numbers and scores. It leads to intense and unworthy kinds of competition, wide scale cheating, coercing of  politicians into thoughtless cooperation; and it lines the pockets of the publishing technocratic godfathers with big money. Big, big money. Our kids are used as robots. Our teachers are used as procurers and pimps.

NAPLAN has its origins in greed for the mighty dollar through the demoralisation and humiliation of the teaching profession. Wide scale NY-style blanket testing regimes have never had any other purpose.

Time Allocations

Practising is not teaching. It is big-time cheating when the original schooling concept of teaching a full curriculum to all, using pedagogically useful syllabuses and time allocations based on society’s view of their importance, is fiddled with for nefarious reasons….publishers profits and political bloody-mindedness. A balanced time table, related to child growth and development is a critical schooling issue.

If present-day Australian schools are compliant with the dictates of their curriculum masters, they should follow the suggestions of the commanding body ACARA with its time allocations to subjects;  and they should  tolerate no hanky-panky with the times that ACARA itself has suggested. See : or google ‘naplan time allocations’. This means that all schools, public and private, will obey and not spend any more time in Year 5  than 4 hours per week [less than 1 hour per day] on Maths and 5 hours on English [ 1 hour per day] between now and the NAPLAN tests in May. Yep.  Pigs will fly.

A Gillard demand in April 2011 for schools to limit the time stolen from non-testable subjects to 10 hours in the pre-test swot period, was comprehensively ignored, so the issue was back-seated.  With tongue in cheek, ACARA then said, “The best preparation schools can provide for students is teaching the curriculum, as the tests reflect core elements of the curricula of all state and territories.” Whatever.

Then states supported and encouraged the chaotic testing program by printing practice tests online themselves! Try or  There ought to be a special word for this kind of hypocrisy.  Yes. And….ACARA  had the temerity to print a list of those who ‘cheated’ the tests – like the person who left some grammar charts on the wall during the test – and left the states to punish them. That school was named and shamed in public, the person’s reputation shot.  ‘Ye Gods and little fishes’ has found its origin.

States now cheat on other states by encouraging schools to practise harder and longer then they do.  Have they taken a hypocritic oath or something? They don’t need to publish their own swot sheets. Test practice itself is becoming a big business.  Check these out…   There is a connection here with Kalaci Press and Kip McGrath.  Despite its name, its a private company.  Widely used, it contains practice tests.   Go direct to practice tests, supplied by Q’ld government. A Sydney firm “lumosity improves your brain health and performance.”

For so many publishing businesses to be peddling practice tests and exploiting the cheating racket, there has to be a big enough market.

Isn’t our political system exploiting our children for commercial purposes?



1. Open own facebook page.       2. Tick : “Keep me logged in.”       3. Open     {Apologies for previous confusion. }       Have your say.

If you have 4 minutes 17 seconds to spare from your busy schedule, click on the theme song “Care for Kids” above, relax and ‘take in’ the words. Meditate on the plight of today’s generation of Aussie kids.

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Maintained by outstanding NZ educator, Allan Alach

Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora Point

Australia 2486

07 5524 6443


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