Outstanding Features of Australian Schooling
“The conditions for funding include standardised year 1 school assessment of students’ reading, phonics and numeracy skills, annual reports to parents that identify literacy and numeracy attainment against national standards, and a minimum standard of literacy and numeracy skills for year 12 school leavers.
The government also wants to link teacher salary progression to demonstrated competency and achievement against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, rather than just length of service”
This news item on the recent budget indicates significant changes to the Australian schooling system, the likes of which Australia has never experienced before. Once a nation of learners, we are about to become the world’s busiest and nerviest test-takers. The changes, cunningly arranged as an adjunct to the budget papers were not commented upon by any teacher group nor by any professional organisation nor by any political party nor by any candidate nor by any educational journal nor newspaper. An attempt at drawing public attention to the implications through the SMH, failed. The new rules are here to stay.
The testing industry is now in complete control of Australian schooling and of its associations. Only a large reaction from concerned parents and opt-outers can change it. Reliance on any political party to care about the kids they force to attend school is fruitless. The cry that “Our party will improve school education.” does not ring true until Australia has sorted out what it means by ‘schooling’ and ‘learning’. Until then, the atmosphere is clouded by fear and tension and bullying and unethical conduct. Teacher groups that purport to represent professional attitudes of teachers, maintain a laissez faire attitude and are noticeably silent.
Who would want to become a teacher? There is a serious need for government to listen to the voices from the classroom and to return teaching to the teachers; and to think more seriously about what it is ding to schools.
One can now state, without fear of contradiction, that the most outstanding features of Australian schooling on the world’s stage, are…..
* Children are introduced to the rigours of heavy-duty testing at five years of age.
* Fear-based test preparation occupies one-third of every school year for Years 3,5,7,9.
* Parents and teachers are not encouraged to express their concerns nor given the choice of “Yes” or “No” to test participation.
* School principals do not inform parents of their right of choice prior to test-time.
* School leavers must undertake minimal competency tests of literacy and numeracy in their final year.
* An holistic curriculum is undertaken only by those pupils who attend completely independent schools and by home-schoolers.
* Teachers are punished if their pupils do not perform well at tests held in MAY each year.
These features are about the most rigorous in the western world. Historical evidence [from the US and UK in particular] indicates that such features lead to disaster. The final one stands out. What gives politicians the right to punish? It’s a new and more vicious version of ‘Payment by Results – Revised Code 1862.’[How will candidates look teachers in the face as they electioneer around schools for the next few weeks?]
Punishment by Results is the latest innovation for teachers.
One must ask : How would Finland’s voters react if these conditions were imposed on their schooling system?