I don’t Want the NAPLAN


Ray Kelley is a well known writer of humorous verse. He has been described by Phillip Adams as “…a clever bugger” and by Bruce Dawe as “…our finest poet of light verse.”

His two publications, “Flight to the Chookhouse Roof” [C.Q. University Press, Rockhampton 1998] and “Go, Lovely Nose” [Five Islands Press, Carlton 2005] are widely acclaimed. He has had more than a hundred poems printed by The Spectator and a fair number of these have won the best entry bonus. During his long career as a Principal of State Schools in many parts of Queensland, Australia, he wrote quite a number of parodies about issues of the day that were sung by his colleagues at their social gatherings. In many of these he was unafraid to take cheeky cock-a-snooks at the powers-that-be. http://kelleyandcullen.net/

Born in Sydney, raised in Mackay, married to classmate Lawrie Ross in Mackay in August 1954, Ray attended Kelvin Grove Teachers Training College in 1947-48. After service as Assistant Teacher in Sarina and Marian, he became a Head Teacher [later called Principal] at Miclere Provisional, Mt. Gipps, Oakenden, Mt. Alford, Blenheim, Glenella, Gympie West, Emerald, Richlands East and Moorooka. He retired in 1987.

Perhaps his Head Teacher at Te Kowai State School in the 1930s inspired Ray’s dedication to and admiration for the better features of the profession of primary teaching.


 He wore a coal-black suit despite the chalk,

That starched and ironed man, remote as God,

Whose dark jowls made him look

Like Ginger Meggs’s dad.

Summoned one morning from the littlies’ school

To where the Big Kids sat at work, we stood

Around his table, all

A-twitter to be heard.

Our 3 from 12 twice 7 5 plus 8

Answering in turn, but never fast enough

For him. When he took out

A pocket handkerchief.

We gained a respite; I gained something else.

The unfolded hankie of our awesome judge

Was riddled with small holes

And frayed along one edge!

And so I chanced at seven years of age

In the Almighty’s presence to perceive

Frailty; and felt a surge

Of pity and, yes, love.

One of the great pleasures of taking an interest in the young Treehorns of the world is to share comments with like-minded true-blue educators like Ray Kelley. If NAPLAN has done anything of worth, it has sorted the educators from the testucators. Educators care about kids. Testucators don’t.

 Phil Cullen


 Ray Kelley writes: “When Phil asked me to support his campaign against NAPLAN with a few ditties, I readily agreed. As a teacher I spent more time testing than was warranted. If I had my time over, I’d test only for the purpose of helping me plan remedial learning activities.”

 I Don’t Want to do the NAPLAN

[Tune: ‘’I Don’t Want to Play in Your Yard”]

I don’t want to do the NAPLAN,

I don’t want to post a score,

Once my Mum and Dad decided

They object to what it’s for.

 I don’t want to do the NAPLAN,

Just because I’m in Year 3,

And we hear ACARA holler

To imply it’s mandaTREE.

I’m not going to do NAPLAN

I don’t have to any more.

I’ll be carefree on the test day,

Having slept the night before.

Wasn’t granted an exemption

For some disabiliTEE –

Just withdrawn because the truth is

That it’s NOT compulsoREE.


Teacher: Don’t You Waste My Time.

[Tune: “Don’t Fence Me In.”’

Oh teacher teach, teacher teach to our understanding’s reach.

Don’t waste our time.

Help us learn, help us learn – that should be your main concern.

Don’t waste our time.

Don’t spend hour after hour on that testing practice,

For hocus-pocus focus lands us in the cactus;

Save us from the place where NAPLAN cul-de-sac’d us,

Don’t waste our time

Oh no, teacher don’t you waste our time.


 In a brilliant acrostic, Ray describes NAPLAN and its effects on classrooms


[Tune: “Mother’]

N is for the Nervousness it’s causing:

A is for the Angst it’s causing too;

P the Pointless Practice, Practice, Practice;

L the Loss of Learning that we rue;

A stands for the Axe with which to Axe it;

N this Needless Nuisance we deplore;

Put them all together, they spell NAPLAN –

A thing to ban forevermore.



Phil Cullen

41 Cominan Avenue

Banora oint 2486

07 5524 6443


2 thoughts on “I don’t Want the NAPLAN

  1. Pingback: Many Australian teachers find national literacy and numeracy plan too difficult to understand | Craig Hill

  2. I Don’t want NAPLAN – I want my kids taught the 3 R’s properly in the first place, if this was done we wouldn’t need LAPLAN

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