Senate Inquiry

Treehorn Express:

Shared opinions soaked in knowledge & experience – all well tested.


Senate Inquiry

A report from the Inquiry is due in March. It means that now is a busy time for the dedicated Senators and their support staff. Those of us who have been involved with and in such inquiries appreciate what can happen. So much depends on the quality and independence of the support staff from receipt of submissions to delivery of the report. Few Australians know of this inquiry because its announcement, although probably advertised in all newspapers, did not receive any ‘press’. There was and has been a heavy and depressing cone of silence over the whole inquiry. It’s just not fair. It’s no fault of the members themselves who, no doubt, are concerned that the matter is not being treated seriously enough . A suspicious person would wonder if The Press has hidden it deliberately, and if so, why. A selected number of departments, educational institutions and organisations must have been contacted directly by Senate officers, because 75% to 80% of submissions received to date, have been supplied by such organisations. Overwhelming, really. There has been none from any school nor school P&C and just a few from every-day, grass-roots educators/parents and we poor mortals.

For unknown reasons as to the origins of the inquiry, the terms of reference were set on 11 September, 2012 with submissions to close on 26 October. Since few knew of the existence of the Inquiry and the busy school pre-vacation period slowed down the normal school-based bush-telegraph processes to mention its existence, there was a ‘ruddy blush’ for interested educators to ‘make it’ on time. Literacy groups, maths and science education groups rushed to have their say before the closing date….and many who needed or may have wanted to do so, missed out. Submissions 7 and 23 testify to this hurry-scurry.

Submissions now close on 30 January. I wonder how many know that. Where and when and how was this announced. Any ‘press’ cover?

I found out yesterday. It’s a worry. Take a look if you think you can make it…..

The release of the report in an election year boggles the mind. It’s of special concern to anti-NAPLAN educators. Will the committee have a proper chance to consider the impact of Standardised Blanket Testing [e.g. NAPLAN] on school operations and how much does such SBT cost a country like Australia that has committed itself to the worst features [curriculum wreckage, wasted school time, fear-and-stress school culture] of the GERM scato-meme. The five years of NAPLAN have cost billions in money terms already. We don’t know precisely, but the Inquiry will probably reveal this as difficult as the details are to chase. The planned conversion of every school in Australia to on-line testing and scoring should cost a pretty penny on top of it all….for what purpose? Most of us have reasonable ability with mathematical calculations. We should be able to judge if an investment in any form of SBT is worth the money, shouldn’t we? When we know the amounts, we will all be able to judge also the kind of educational leadership that school children need.

SBT fear-based styles of schooling, over the past 5 years, according to NAPLAN;s own measurements, have produced flat-line, mediocre results in most aspects of literacy and numeracy at enormous cost. As a result, decisions have been taken at the political control quarters to intensify the efforts… ‘Top 5 by 25’ sort of thing. [Some of us studied Logic as a subject at secondary and tertiary level, but one hardly needs to have done so, to ask “What is going on?”….unless elements of deductive logic have been altered. Perplexing? You betcha.] Shouldn’t NAPLAN be replaced by a teaching-learning program? If we did, we could make ‘the top 1 by 21’ even if we were silly enough to bother about PISA placements. I sure hope that the Senate Inquiry can help us ordinary tax-payers to understand why this hasn’t been done earlier.

In general….how much enlightenment have you found from reading the submissions ? Think of the poor members of the Inquiry.

Where does the money spent on this high-stakes testing go, anyhow? Billions on preparation and administration for no results! Whose pockets?

Most importantly – can an estimate of the loss of intellectual potential be determined for those children now between the ages of 7 years and 18 years whose cognitive development has been curbed or damaged during the NAPLAN years, 2008-2012 ? Now that is serious stuff. [I’m tempted to yell, ‘They’re my grand-children, you testucating rotters.’…but I’m not brave enough.]

I don’t envy the senators. Party loyalties. Party policy. Party politics. Leadership loyalty. School memories. Child welfare. Influence of report on election results. Influence on schooling. Personal beliefs. Personal spunk.

How loud would the cheering be in all political party rooms if the report suggested that NAPLAN, already revealed as one of the least motivative learning-based instruments of SBT in the western world, an accident of history, a political misology and a danger to children’s learning, be abandoned forthwith! Imagine ! Yes. Just imagine.

Ho hum. That’s life with NAPLAN.


“ I believe fervently that our political leaders and their army of like-minded testucators will one day look around and see piles where their painstakingly-built sandcastles of reform once stood, and they will know the tragic frame of Ozymandias. Billion-dollar data-sorting systems will be mothballed. Value-added algorithms will be tossed in a bin marked History’s Big Dumb Ideas. The mantra “no excuses” will retain all the significance of “Where’s the beef?” And teachers will still be teaching, succeeding and failing all over the country, much as they would have if the pollies had gone into foreign services and Bill Gates had invested his considerable wealth and commendable ambition in improving law enforcement practices or poultry production.” John Kahn


Let’s make sure that total NAPLAN eradication becomes a top election issue.

It should never have been imported.

Click: ‘Care for Kids’

Phil Cullen

January 22 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s