Latest News

The Treehorn  Express

[Maintained by NZ educator Allan Alach]

 Treehorn is the hero of a masterful children’s book The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Heidi Parry that cleverly illustrates adult concerns for the welfare of school children. The little fellow kept shrinking and became so small that he could walk upright under his bed. Nobody – nobody – his parents, his teacher, his principal took any real interest in his well-being.except for an occasional nod. The message is a clear and simple one for all parents of school children, for teachers and principals who just don’t care enough.


Naplan, like a coal-seam-gas miner, invades each Aussie child’s intellectual property without permission,  fracks their cerebral underpinnings without remorse and scars their learning landscape forever without a care.

Latest  News

Senate Inquiry Submissions close on 26 October – next Friday. It’s the second time that I have made one to a senate inquiry, the first being into ‘the administration and reporting of NAPLAN testing.  Didn’t have any impact. So much has happened since then….things got worse…a lot worse… almost out of hand;  and Australia now holds the title of the GERMiest country on earth. In her blog headed “Australia Claims the GERM Title”. Diane Ravitch says, “Is Australian the GERM capital of the world?  I was sure that the U.S. was first in the world when it came to testing and accountability, choice, competition and privatization.” she continues, “ We now discover we are number 2.”  Gotcha Diane.

You were the first at these things, Diane…but…. we are not called your 51st state for nothing. We have to do what your corporations want us to do….and…don’t forget…Rupert used to be one of ours!  Yes.  We copied that fear-full, shame-full, competitive system from your Joel Klein [A.O. or A.M. ?] but it’s flopped, gone pear-shaped. We are looking forward to throwing in the towel, as soon as possible; and teaching our school children instead. Some other unfortunate country can have the title. We aren’t proud of it. Fair dinkum Aussies look forward to starting again…which is a probable outcome of this inquiry. Listen to what one school principal [click  ‘Kevin Pope radio interview’ ] describes how this system works down under. He is one who has risen above the politically-inspired intimidation tricks and Orwellian forms of bureaucratic control on behalf of his school. You can sense the love and respect that he has for his pupils, can’t you?  Australia needs to re-introduce this kind of pupil care and respect into its schools, this kind of ethical school leadership. You will have noticed that there are now so many schools that once boasted of their learning achievements on many broad curriculum fronts and how they carried out their duty of care; who now describe their successes in terms of NAPLAN results. They’ve gone rogue and allowed fear-based testing and high-stakes competitiveness into their management ethos. Sick.

Please. true-blue Aussie educators and friends of schools, help our school children and make a submission on any or all of the  terms of reference and send to  this week. Tell the senators that NAPLAN has to go—entirely and forthwith. If you cannot find the time, and think that my submission, Submission – Senate Committee  is in line with your own opinions, why not just send an email to endorse mine, and ask the secretariat to attach it, with your comments if you wish, to my submission. If you think  that my ‘selected readings’ are insufficient, for instance,  and that members need to read a particular item of importance please send the article or source to the same address. The busy people on the committee will need as much well-sourced material as they can get. Their Christmas will be ruined, but Christmas is about kids too.

For instance, Greg Thompson’s research into the “Effects of NAPLAN” {Murdoch University, Oct. 2012 as perceived by teachers is ground-breaking. See attachment: Greg Thompson – NAPLAN research   I hope Mr. Garrett reads it. He once wrote ,”…the opinions expressed in The Treehorn Express newsletter are largely opinion or anecdotal and are not supported by evidence.”  Here’s some more opinions, Peter, you poor misguided chap, from the chalk-face. These opinions of Australian teachers, obtained by empirically based research – a much more reliable source of opinion than those that you express when you boast that NAPLAN ensures “improved learning outcomes” and “promotes quality education in Australia”. You know full well that you base such fiction on silly, unreliable and invalid NAPLAN scoring devices….fair go.

This study by Greg Thompson, consistent with international research, reveals that “high-stakes testing has a negative impact on Australian schooling.”

  1. NAPLAN “creates incentives for teachers to narrow the curriculum, adopt teachers-centred pedagogies, and teach to the test.”  “…these strategies are detrimental to literacy and numeracy learning.” and create “…classroom environments that are less, rather than more inclusive.”
  2. “The majority of teachers surveyed do not see NAPLAN as improving literacy and numeracy in their classrooms and schools.”
  3. “Research suggests that stress makes learning more difficult, not more likely. Trying to improve education outcomes through NAPLAN at the same time as it increases the stress of those involved would appear to be a self-defeating strategy.”
  4. “Only a minority of teachers perceive NAPLAN has had some positive outcomes, and these positives are much less prevalent in the data than the perceptions of negative impacts.”

Peter. Please learn to say “Oops. I’m sorry.”…then, after a yarn to the political founders of the Klein invented, GERM infested NAPLAN testing routines,  be Aussie enough to say, “NAPLAN  must cease forthwith!”  It’s an accident of history and has to be put behind us.

Might I suggest that you and your flunks [e.g. letter-writers] download the attachment : Greg Thompson research  and study each table and judge the intensity of  responses to each question carefully.  Ask the senators what they think. Then, play fair with our kids; and ask the busy senators to recommend the cessation of NAPLAN testing, completely….no half-measures.

It’s election year next year, kiddies. Let’s hope that it becomes our Australian year of the child….and anyone who supports NAPLAN [i.e. those who obviously doesn’t care much about children] loses his or her seat.


At the conclusion of my submission, I made three recommendations. What do you think?

1…..that this senate inquiry sponsor a legal inquiry into the standing of a Code of Conduct within a state department of education, especially in its relationship to the exercise of professional ethics by its employees; and that the outcomes be made public. 

2…..that all education authorities be informed that parents’ rights in regard to their children’s participation in NAPLAN testing be respected; that their right of refusal is clearly made on enrolment forms and on official announcements.

3…..that state public schools be allowed to hire teachers to teach those whose normal curriculum  experiences are not available because of NAPLAN testing preparation and operation.


“Legislators and bureaucrats scheme to achieve greater control over what is taught and to whom. Their motives are partly egotistical, and some intentions are honourable. However, their actions are not judged by their intentions but by their consequences, which are uniformly bad.”   [Gene Glass]

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2 thoughts on “Latest News

  1. Hi Phil

    I’m keen to know more about the current Senate Inquiry. The link below (under the “Latest News” heading) gives and error message and says the page can’t be found.

    I’ve search the Aust Govt website and can’t find anything about the inquiry. Can you give me another link to try? Or send me the terms of reference?

    Many thanks


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