NAPLAN control

 The Treehorn Express

Treehorn’s story : Open attachment.

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]



A very important conference that could have an impact on the future for primary schooling in Australia and New Zealand will be held in Melbourne 18-21 September.  Its title is “OUR PRIMARY PURPOSE – LEADING LEARNING”.  Unquestionably, the title is apt because Primary Principals maintain the engines of the powerhouses called ‘schools’ that have been established to determine the future of our two countries. Society does that sort of thing to maintain itself. School principals, then, are each country’s real leaders of learning; and their clients  presently attending school will be in control of the country when they move on.

Our love for pupils at school and for our country are coupled with the sincere hope that they and our countries’ futures are in safe hands – in professionally ethical hands, who are widely-read students of professional-leadership literature and serious class-room oriented operatives. That’s what the average primary principal is. Primary school principals – proud people – important – very, very important people. Right? We adults and our schools’ principals want our children, their pupils, to be able to cope with the enormous, different,  unknown challenges that lay ahead of them. We trust principals to do the right thing.

For instance:- What sort of coping skills do the children need? What sort of attitudes to life-learning do they need? Do they really teach the kind of learnacy that holds the curriculum together, in all schools,  full time,  so that our loved ones will always be able to adjust to new circumstances? That’s certainly what they need, especially if the future itself is uncertain. Do we teach self-evaluation and shared-evaluation of effort, for instance, as part of the learning process? Are traditional subjects enough for their future to be happy and satisfying?

A primary school is about learnacy and pupilling, isn’t it?   AND   It’s the principal of the thing, that counts!

There are so many questions that practising, curriculum-based primary principals have to keep asking themselves over and over and over. There is so much for each of them to learn, because  one lifetime is hardly enough to keep up to speed, to read and negotiate trends, to develop a good understanding and worthy personal philosophy about pupilling.  Pupilling is the reason for the existence of schools, no matter what kind they are….public, private, religious, charter, alternative, distant, home.


There is a need for such a conference to discuss LEADING LEARNING….to reach some  resolutions about ethical leadership related to children’s learnacy. But…

This particular conference has a problem. Australian principals have been gagged since NAPLAN was introduced. There is an embargo on what they are permitted to say if it is seen to be counter-productive to government policy as far as testing is concerned. The measurers’ apprentices have their instructions. They, along with their teachers and their pupils’ parents, are not allowed to comment on government policy in regard to the administration of the NAPLAN tests and/or its outcomes.

Political controls presently in place, provoke an uneasy feeling amongst the professional work force. Decisions of the chalk-face kind, from which progressive government policies should emanate, are not expected to come from the conference. The professional uneasiness curbs open discussion….on ‘the floor of the house’ so to speak.  Back rooms, Melbourne restaurants, yes.  Why? ‘Big brother’ will be in attendance,  known to use heavy bricks on embargo-breakers.

The NAPLAN results from the May testing program will be made known at about the same time as the conference. There will be a vast improvement in test scores. The public will be called upon to praise their great leader’s efforts and to support the government’s robust control of principals, teachers and parents so that the little brats will do as they are told next May –  in “measurers’ heaven” , “testing paradise”. Practice for the May testing does lead towards mechanical, tropistic improvement just like kicking goals, swimming backstroke, playing darts,  whatever – no great learning involved. So the pro-government-policy principals aka the measurers apprentices, will be able to celebrate. That’s the way the Aussie system works.

The pro-kids, pro-leading learning, pro-professional principals at the conference had better behave.



Is primary schooling different? Can you think of eleven differences?


As a courtesy and welcome to Pasi Sahlberg, who is currently down-under and will be a keynote speaker at the two-nation conference, might I again recommend his short article : How Germ is Infecting Schools Around the World . He says, “The Global Educational Reform Movement”  is like an epidemic that spreads and infects education systems through a virus. It travels with pundits, media and politicians. Education systems borrow policies from others and get infected. As a consequence, schools get ill, teachers don’t feel well, and kids learn less.”

When you open this site, click “Read Introduction” on the left side-band. Print it out [only seven pages] and read with highlighter in hand. You’ll be pleased you did. You will be sure to highlight : “…teachers in Finland may exercise their professional knowledge and judgment both widely and freely. They control curriculum, student assessment, school improvement and community involvement. Much as teachers around the world enter the profession with a mission to build community and transmit culture, Finnish teachers in contrast to their peers in so many countries have the latitude and power to follow through.”


“The  public school is the greatest invention made by man.” [Horace Mann]





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Banora Point 2486


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