A TIMELY MESSAGE FROM TREEHORN & RAY ARMSTRONG, former proud NSW primary school principal.

Parents, Your Kids Don’t Have To Do NAPLAN If They Don’t Want To

With May just around the corner, so too is NAPLAN, The National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy. Australia wide, students in Year 3, 5, 7 and 9 will be assessed over the course of three days to determine if their reading, writing and numeracy skills are up to scratch.

If your own child is in one of these year levels, you may be feeling curious as to how they will measure up or consumed with nerves about whether their test-taking anxiety will raise its ugly head. Like me, maybe you’re still hung up on the relevance of NAPLAN and why it exists in the first place.

We’re told that NAPLAN produces valuable data, essential for initiating improvements in student learning. However the statistics provided are somewhat limited in use, partly due to their four month turnaround. More significantly, the data compiled can’t compete with the rich observations made by an experienced teacher, which evolves over time and in different contexts.

We’re told that NAPLAN is just a little test, a part of life that children need to adapt to. Education critic Alfie Kohn refers to this mindset as the ‘Better Get Used To It’ principle. Sure, the experts in child development may be recommending against young children’s participation in standardised testing but with it lingering in their future, we prioritise getting them ready nonetheless, with little concern for the damage.

Eight-year-old Keli, first-time NAPLAN participant, said: “The teacher told us that we need to practice getting it all done otherwise we won’t be able to in the real test. I sat there and cried and thought about how hard tests are going to be in high school.”

We’re told that NAPLAN doesn’t dominate classroom learning. However, as you read this, classrooms across the country are knee deep in NAPLAN preparation. They may be revising content or they may be taking mock tests. The sad truth is that there’s too much riding on the results not to.

Accountability is a huge driver behind NAPLAN. The data is used to give schools and teachers a gold star or a giant red cross. But it ignores the obvious truth that we can’t make children learn if they’re not ready. Nor should we only value the style of teaching and learning that can be assessed in a written test.

Stephanie, an educator, said: “I don’t know a teacher that doesn’t give the students some practice of this test taking. We should be teaching concepts that make a difference, are relevant and motivate students for lifelong learning.”

Anthony, an ex teacher, adds: “Kids get less of an education because so much time is spent teaching to the test.”

Schools want your child to participate. The government wants your child to participate. But do you? And, even more importantly, does your child?

Here’s where things get interesting. Did you know NAPLAN isn’t compulsory?

Schools want your child to participate. The government wants your child to participate. But do you? And, even more importantly, does your child?

It’s time to make a decision. To support NAPLAN this year or to avoid it? My advice is simple. Ask your child: “Do you want to participate in NAPLAN this year?”

If he or she says “yes”, let them. Reduce the pressure surrounding the results and allow them to experience the process. If she or he says “no”, support them. Ask for a withdrawal form at your school’s front office. This one-page document simply requires you to write your child’s name, school and year level, tick a box for which parts of NAPLAN are being sat out (all) and sign it.

Repeat this conversation each year that NAPLAN rolls around. Your child’s answer may be the same or it may change. With their feelings valued and their decision empowered, the big hairy monster that is NAPLAN need no longer be a thing of nightmares.

Parents – Do It Now!

Parents – Do it NOW

Carrie Starbuck, Managing Director of ‘Learning Performance’ says : ” Pupils frequently display signs of stress, despite often not realising this is what they’re suffering from. 

Aside from a whole host of emotions that young people would rather not be experiencing, stress and anxiety have a significant impact on the brain’s ability to process, learn and retain information. Stressed students don’t make the most effective learners and this creates a negative cycle that we must work to prevent” 

How to help
        students cope with stress

“During childhood and adolescence, the brain goes through lots of change because it is highly malleable. Adolescence is triggered by the release of the protein kisspeptin into the brain. This affects the amygdala, which is the control centre for our emotions, making feelings more intense. This is why there is an increase in impulsive, emotional and emotive reactions during the teenage years”

Yes. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again. Stress is not good for you….and the NAPLAN kind can damage kids for life….without your realising it.

NAPLAN was founded on the belief that the creation of stress and anxiety in school children would force them to try harder in their tests. NAPLAN preparaton and operation is a very real form of child abuse.

We should not be treating our children this way.

Parents should think very, very carefully about the timing of their child’s withdrawal from participation.

It is strongly recommended that they drop a note to their teacher NOW, withdrawing their child from any further NAPLAN activity.


Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486  07 5524 6443  0407865999  Refer: Who’s Who in Australia


What provokes your thinking?


Aussie Friends of Treehorn
protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided.
What is your stimulous ?
What provokes your thinking?
I confess to listening to speakers who know what is going on  and who challenge any evil in it.
Here are two notable speakers to whom one cannot tire of listening………
If a parent asked me to explain what is going on at the present time, I’d strongly recommend their listening to these two special people over and over and over…..
Sir Ken Robinson
Pasi Sahlberg
Then, if a determined enquirer has more time to listen, the mixed humour and pathos of the effects of Standardised blanket testing, presented by , a brilliant skit by John Oliver, is something else.
And a look-back at past issues of Treehorn Express will not be wasted…..
 Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486              
07 5524 6443          0407865999

A big fib.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available.

NAPLAN has nothing to do with learning. It has nothing to do with teaching. It has nothing to do with real schooling. It has to do with finding fault and making money. It’s an ineffective, unreliable and invalid device that makes the most of young children’s vulnerability and it deliberately threatens their cognitive development and emotional stability


This is a great big fib.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

{A child-interested newspaper or independent columnist or TV investigation should look at this. Ever wondered why one hasn’t?}

Here is a direct quote from ACARA’s instructions regarding the administration of NAPLAN Test. It’s ACARA’s way of handling loving parents who don’t want their child to suffer NAPLAN tests and their preparation procedures. 

What do you do if you wish to withdraw your child from the NAPLAN experience?

It’s intention is to deceive you. Please read it carefully and you will see. 

‘NAPLAN tests are a routine part of the school calendar. However students may be withdrawn from the testing program by their parent/carer if there are religious beliefs or philosophical objections to testing. This is a matter for consideration by individual parents/carers in consultation with their child’s school. A formal application in the manner specified by the relevant test administration authority (TAA) must be received by the principal prior to the testing.’   [Potent parts underlined by me]

NAPLAN has never been a ‘ routine part of the school calendar’. It’s an optional extra…nothing more….has no useful part in a normal holistic school curriculum. It is, as described in the title above. An outside body [ACARA], established by one particular corporation-guided politician, later PM, drunk with too much power, in 2008  then added high stakes testing to school time…..and loaded it with dangerous sciolist microbeads.  It’s an uninvited, enormously time-consuming addition to normal school activities  that is proving to be totally unnecessary. More than that, it is proving to be degrading and depressing on children’s emotions as well….and on their teachers.  It is also a dismal failure in terms of its promises…a waste of valuable time. Parental refusal to participate in a school optional activity is treated, by regulation, as other optional extras, such a school excursion or religious education, are treated. Such a refusal is routinely handled as are others…….with dignity.  A parent’s wishes have to be respected.

It’s just so easy to say, “NO TO NAPLAN”.

If you don’t want your child to participate (and thousands of parents are presently opting out)  all you have to do is drop a short note to your child’s teacher or to the school. Nothing  else.  You don’t have to supply a reason nor an apology, nor find nor invent a ‘religious belief’ nor ‘philosophical objection”. That’s rubbish. That’s deceitful. No school nor school authority would dare ignore your demand nor insist that a special form be completed by you. There is no need for a school consultation.  If there was, it would have asked you for your ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ choice in the first place. A family consultation on the effects of NAPLAN on your child’s future would seem a wiser alternative.

And another thing;  what is a TAA?  Have you heard of it? What’s its role? Where

is it located? Who are the members? Another hoax? Used to be an airline. Who made up this silly trick?

I was a senior state department officer for almost twenty years and I can guarantee that no self-respecting state department would support this kind of vulgar treatment of parents.  It’s a hoax.

Please ACARA, please stop treating parents as dillpots!   Stop covering up.  Stop the child abuse. Stop being corporate pawns. Stop the bull.

This kind of silly deception does not have a place in professionally ethical school administration circles; and ACARA should be ashamed that it has published this stupidity. Hoodwinking parents in this manner is shameful.

All that a parent has to do is write a short note to their child’s teacher, something like : “I do not want my child to do the NAPLAN tests.” or write this on any enrolment form. Nothing else.  Absolutely nothing else. ..and…this can be done at any time during the year. 

Treehorn’s advice: Do it now. Drop a note to your school now.    “I don’t want my child to do any Naplan tests.”

{A comment like, “I prefer that my child should learn something useful” might remind any naplanners about the real business of schooling!]

Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486 
07 5524 6443              
07 5524 6443          0407865999

Parents are stupid People.

The Treehorn Express

The Treehorn Express recognises the sad plight of every victim of Standardised Blanker Testing in all GERM countries being ignored by those who should care; and exploited by those who don’t.


Parents Are Stupid People

They don’t understand what WE want to do with their kids.

On Wednesday evening on Australian national television, in response to the news that the number of parents withdrawing their children from the Standardized Blanket Testing program called NAPLAN, to be imposed on schools in two weeks time, was increasing dramatically, the federal minister for education, Peter Garrett said that there was no need to ‘freak out’.  You parents need to behave yourselves and do as your schools are telling you. “They” [that’s YOU silly parents] he said, “need to understand the WE need that information.”

You parents send your children to a school so that their future can be happy, healthy and purposeful.  You probably have that weird notion that your kids’ brains and talents need to be extended further than your own; that they will undertake an occupation that they will enjoy and do well at; that their thinking will be about social responsibility, cultural respect, pursuing intellectual pursuits that take their fancy, accepting challenges in social and community activities and in their job. You probably think that today’s world needs people who can cope with learning new things…learning HOW to learn. Well, WE have news for you.

WE can’t handle this sort of thing.. WE want schools to be standardised and cloned rather than try to raise learning standards and encourage diversity. WE want your children to be good at tables, spelling, mental arithmetic, notation, reading words, writing according to instructions up to OUR standard. They need to do better at these things than they have done in the past. That’s education.

WE might have a narrow view of extending intelligence and ability and talent, but WE are in control. WEunashamedly want to maintain a materialistic view and serve our corporate masters properly. WE will have our way.

Peculiar parents think that development of cognitive abilities is more important than raising tests scores.  Freaks.

WE don’t like those schools that encourage parents to think about schooling and about whether NAPLAN helps or hinders their kids’ progress. Heavens above, everybody will be withdrawing from the tests!  WE will have to provide extra teachers to help your children learn if they don’t have to prepare for NAPLAN.  Strict differentiated teaching will need to be provided to larger schools. NO WAY.

WE don’t believe in the rubbish spread by experienced teachers and academics, like Ken Robinson who says that tests like NAPLAN :

“First…promote a catastrophically narrow idea of intelligence and ability. The result is a terrible waste of talent and motivation in countless students.

Second, it confuses standards with  standardizing. The result is that schools across the country are becoming dreary dreary and homogenized.

Third, it assumes that education can be improved without the professional creativity and personal passion of teachers.

All of this is holding back our country in a world that’s moving faster than ever.”

WE ignore this kind of thinking. You silly parents should ignore it, too. WE need scores from tests, even though they are useless, because we need to be able to say. “WE’ve improved  education.”

Got it, you silly people? Don’t you dare take notice of this sort of stuff…….

Phil Cullen
41 ominan Avenue
Banora Point. 2486
07 524 6443

Letter to withdraw your child from NAPLAN

Reposted from Boycott Naplan Coalition


Letter to withdraw your child from NAPLAN


 For your information as a parent:

Since you are the legal guardian of your child, you can state that you don’t want your child to be tested, just as you can state you don’t want your child to go swimming or to participate in any other event. You do not have to give a reason. Below is a form letter you can use.


Dear Teacher and Principal,

I have discussed NAPLAN with my child and I have decided that he/she will not be doing the NAPLAN test. I have decided to exercise my legal right as guardian.

I am very concerned about the negative impact of NAPLAN testing on our education system and have no interest in creating any unnecessary anxiety for my daughter/son; especially when NAPLAN serves no learning purpose.

While I realise that I am under no obligation to present any reasons for my child’s withdrawal, I do think that it is worth explaining. I know that you both, as teacher and principal, have the best interest of my daughter/son in mind – that is not in question. NAPLAN testing, however, does not improve learning nor does it provide any meaningful data for teachers. (See  Instead, NAPLAN results are being used by government to force schools into competing for students and resources. As a result, NAPLAN testing is narrowing the curriculum, and is often leading to a lot of test practice rather than productive learning in classrooms.

I  sincerely hope that parents, teachers and principals can come together on this issue and reject NAPLAN.

As the parent (or legal guardian) of the following children, I request that they are withdrawn from all NAPLAN testing.

Name of child               Year level

……………………………………   ……………..

……………………………………   ……………..

Yours sincerely,

(parent / guardian)


Finland for parents.

Shared opinions soaked in knowledge & experience.

WHY ? Why does Australia do so poorly in PISA tests, compared with countries, like Finland, who don’t have any national blanket tests?



“Today we have fallen in love with objectively quantifying reality and see it as a solution to our problems. Today, students are judged and judge themselves upon such pitiful scales, the scales of measurement.” [Russell Hvolbek : The End of Education.]


 What does Finland Do ?

For parents who wish to know.

Finland is a country with an education system that scores highly on PISA tests, but has no high stakes testing programs [e.g. NAPLAN,NCLB,NS] of its own. It does not believe in the kinds of blanket testing carried out in GERM countries such as Australia, New Zealand, U.K. and U.S.A., all parts of the Global Education Reform Movement. With little interest and no stake  in the outcomes, Finland offers to undertake PISA tests just for fun. The term GERM was constructed by Pasi Sahlberg of Finland who has a mission to share the schooling accomplishments of Finland with world educational leaders who are prepared to think about what they are doing to their children. Australia is not included in that category; we Aussies don’t like to strain ourselves too much thinking about the things that really happen to kids at school.  Sahlberg’s book, Finnish Lessons, and his advice have been totally ignored by Australian politico-testucators and given the ‘silence treatment’ by the Australian press. No reason has ever been provided for giving such a prestigious educator the short shift. Anyhow, who cares?

In PISA scores, Finland is ‘up there’ with Singapore, Japan and South Korea for very different reasons. West Pacific countries, from Seoul to Tasmania and Stewart Island all believe in the power of fear as a teaching weapon. It’s part of our Western Pacific cultural DNA. There is a wide spread belief in these countries that heavy, high stakes testing that promotes both fear of failure and the attachment to monetary rewards motivates children to do well at certain standardised tests. Australia, for instance, has a legacy of one-hit end-of-year examinations that decide the future of candidates who are forced into the contest.  It’s part of our DNA. Carried to the extreme in the East Asian galaxy, signs of which are appearing in Australia, is the promotion of a total school focus on testing success through [1]more time at school, [2] reducing school learnings only to the quantifiable, [3] extended use of adult-oriented didactic teaching techniques, [4] more after-school time at back-yard tutoring businesses and [5] heavy homework assignments. Jealous of near-neighbour’s accomplishments, she who must be obeyed now demands this sort of schooling for Aussie children.  This is Australia’s schooling future, but, trust me, you have it all wrong, dearie.

Sadly, that is what is happening in schools. Test-based schooling using a one-size test-based curriculum aimed at PISA results is inevitable. Who cares?  Yet …

Finland pupils spend less time at school routines than most other western countries. By age 15, they have spent less than 4 years of ‘formal’ schooling yet accomplish higher scores in the PISA tests for 15 year-olds than most. 4 years. Yes. 15 years is the age that children contest PISA, at which Finland excels. Your thinking principal will be able to explain why this is so. Make sure you ask.

Why is Finland so different? It has thought about schooling for a long time and continues to do so. “Finland’s leaders realized in the 1940s that its non-system of exclusivist frequently private, and often inefficient schools – a system based on the idea that ‘everyone could not learn everything’ –would not help the nation move from an agrarian to a manufacturing country.” [Connie Goddard] While pondering and discussing and examining its own conscience for many years, it developed a national conscience of wanting to ‘own’ its system, rather than ‘rent’ one from another nation.

In 1970 it started to develop a system based on drastic philosophical and structural changes. As Pasi Sahlberg states in Finnish Lessons P.9: “The Finnish experience shows that consistent focus on equity and cooperation – not choice and competition – can lead to an education system where all children learn well. Members of the Finnish business and banking community were as sceptical and critical, [as  their Australian counterparts tend to be] until the 2001 PISA results were announced. How did we get way up there? Australia’s business community, however, maintained its criticism of schooling procedures for good reasons until 2008 when it paid for Joel Klein to visit Australia on Julia’s advice, to sell his gospel. The big boys just went the wrong way.  Bad move. Reformation in Australia took the standard GERM direction, and ‘rented’ the New York system.

How does Finland teach learners to achieve with joy and relish?

Finns have empowered their teachers. They believe in them and what they do. Teaching is one of the most prestigious of occupations. They don’t need to ‘test’ their teachers and their schools by testing pupils using defective devices nor pontificate on what WE [politicians] will do to increase standards when they slip. Finns believe in the power of the profession and they have deliberately assisted it to grow in its own knowledge and to be proud of its professional ethics.

Finns don’t use the word ‘accountable’ in any generalised sense. Accountability resides within each person in the learning chain in a collaborative community way. Teachers develop their curriculum collaboratively. They would never copy nor ’rent’ one structured to one-size-fits-all that maintains mediocrity through the fear of test results, like we do down here. They believe in limitless achievement and the joy in learning as much as one can. As Connie Goddard says in her review of Finnish Lessons: “Overall, Finnish Lessons provided valuable evidence that investing in teachers and instruction –rather than in tests and inspections – can bring about admirable, even excellent, results.”

These are amongst the most obvious differences between a successful learning culture and ours There are so many other different lessons that we can learn from such a schooling authority and from our gross error in following an urban NY dysfunctional system administered by measurers. What should fair-dinkum Aussies do?

  1. Stop the inanities of the introduced test-based system – NAPLAN.     
  2. Think and talk.  [Take time. Talk with practitioners.]
  3. Think of the future. What kinds of school ‘products’ does Australia need?
  4. Value the act and the art of teaching.
  5. Think dinky-di Australian.

Only then is there any chance of being in the ‘top 5 by 25’ PISA results….if that’s the aim of Australian schooling. Start with the banning of ridiculous blanket testing.


How many school’s professional libraries, departmental chief’s private libraries, Education Ministers’ book shelves, political party rooms and political candidate’s home shelves contain:

  • FINNISH  LESSONS by Pasi Sahlberg and
  • FERTILIZERS, PILLS & MAGNETIC STRIPS – The Fate of Public Education in America by Gene Glass
  • THE DEATH & LIFE OF THE GREAT AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM – How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education by Diane Ravitch


Please allow me to introduce the blog-site of Gene Glass, distinguished educator, renowned researcher into class-size issues and famed opponent of Competency Based Education, 1980s’ style. It’s worth searching through.

Click‘Care for Kids’

Phil Cullen


The Treehorn Express 

Click‘Care for Kids’

Shared opinions soaked in knowledge & experience.


Treehorn is the hero of an easy-to-read children’s book: “The Shrinking of Treehorn” by Florence Heidi Parry. The story clearly illustrates the disregard that adults demonstrate towards children at school. Treehorn’s  principal and his teacher,even his parents, give him ‘short shift’. See  for further detail.


 WHY ? Why aren’t parents offered the choice of having their children undertake NAPLAN test-preparation and testing or not? 



The Australian government operations are suitably described as possessing an Orwellian structure. Orwellianism is described as an oligarchical dictatorship, based on a nonsensical, peculiar thought process that manipulates social structures on behalf of the most powerful in the land. It persuades the electorate to indulge in double-thinking by holding two contradictory views and believing in both. Teachers, for instance, can believe in an individual’s freedom to learn and, at the same time, succumb to the use of fear-driven practice techniques that prepare their pupils for Big Brother’s decadent blanket, NAPLAN tests. By embracing inconsistent concepts, school principals can acquiesce to the unethical political view that low test scores indicate poor teaching and shabbily-run schools; and their professional conscience wont worry them. Professionally neutered, they are unable to dissent from the mandates of politico-measurers who are in charge. [The Treehorn Express 27 November,2011]


What Parents Need to Know about NAPLAN

[For those schools that are including extracts from Treehorn in their ‘news’.]

NAPLAN [ ]stands for National Assessment Program – Literacy And Numeracy; a series of tests which were commenced in 2008 by ACARA [Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority] on the orders of the then Federal Minister for Education, Ms Julia Gillard,  following a visit to the United States, where she had met a fellow lawyer, Joel Klein, then in charge of a large school district in New York. He was able to persuade her that his high-stakes, judgemental, fear-based testing operations would suit Australia. Her predecessor Dr. Brendan Nelson and her leader, Mr. Kevin Rudd, agreed wholeheartedly at the time with this form of force-fed school improvement, with outcomes to be judged by the international tests called PISA.

PISA [Programme for International Student Assessment] is a test given to a random selection of 15 year-old pupils from a number of OECD countries in mathematics, science and reading every three years. 65 countries participated in 2009. Australia has always been in the top-ten in the world until the effects of NAPLAN showed a serious decline in 2012. For those whose belief systems are based on numbers, it can be claimed that Australia was 9/65 in 2009.  We had been 5th in Reading, 8th in Maths., 5th in Science  during the 2000,2003,2006 period.

SO! Our PISA scores have been sliding backwards since the introduction of NAPLAN in 2008. The reasons are  obvious.

However, our Prime Minister is one who believes in the power of scores through the use of heavy-fire power aimed at teachers;  and has announced that Australia will be in the top 5 places by 2025…by hook of by crook.  Amen. If  Australia isn’t up there, it’s the teachers’ fault.

There’s a contrary view,  espoused by The Treehorn Express and friends on some of the LINKS below.  If NAPLAN or any form of high-stakes blanket testing continues past 2013 with a Beetlebaum charge through the field to fifth or better, it will be miraculous. Perhaps Ms.G.  believes, as do her coterie of testucating teacher-bashers that the use of on-line testing will have special magical powers and improve the learning climate of schools. If NAPLAN ceases in 2013, as it should, it will be a demonstration of popular democratic will and fiscal responsibility. The billion or so spent just on tests can be better used.

Australian parents [even those who  trust such scoring] might wonder why we copied a schooling system from New York, one of the lowest scorers in the USA, which itself, was 17th in the PISA Stakes in 2009. It certainly defies logic.

Willing advice from countries such as Finland which consistently scores well on PISA tests without spending billions on testing, has been deliberately ignored. [See Finnish Lessons by Pasi Sahlberg] Rejection of wise advice from such high-scoring countries also defies logic.

Since the sadistic Klein system of heavy testing  was introduced to Australia in 2008, there has been little reference to the business of LEARNING.  Even when primary principals tried to discuss it at the largest conference they have ever held in the South Pacific [e.g. NZPF-APPA 2012 Conference], controlled silence kept the outcomes hidden from the public. Not a word!

Schools themselves would like to talk about trying to extend pupilling pedagogies instead of confining them to the didactic.   Classroom teachers can certainly improve the levels of achievement of anything at all, better than anyone else can, if they are allowed professional control over a sound personal curriculum. No one has yet thought about talking to them…about discussing pupil-driven joy of achievement, about the challenges of learning itself, about the ways of sharing evaluation of effort with friends [e.g. teachers] and parents, about the destructive nature of NAPLAN on classroom learning.

Parents! Please talk to your principal, district officer and your child’s teacher about these aspects of NAPLAN. Encourage open discussion in your community.  You are the only ones allowed to raise such issues.  In most Australian states, teachers, school administrative  staff, members of school-based parents’ association  are not allowed to express any anti-NAPLAN viewpoint. In a perverse orwellian style, this form of coercion has become part and parcel of our education system. High-stakes blanket testing must cease before the damage become irreparable.

Parents: For the sake of Australia’s future, give your school a short note telling it that you do not want your children to participate in any pre-NAPLAN-test preparation nor the tests. If your chosen school is a thinking one, with a democratic outlook, it will bless you. It’s hands are tied, don’t forget, and will welcome your note.


“There is widespread lack of awareness amongst parents and teachers that parents can withdraw their child. Many believe that NAPLAN is compulsory. One ACT parent said that ‘there has been some sort of concerted effort at all relevant levels to con [i.e. mislead and deceive] students and parents into believing that NAPLAN was compulsory.’ A NSW mother said that it took weeks of repeatedly asking for a withdrawal form.  One Queensland school tried to convince a parent not to withdraw her child because without NAPLAN results she would find it hard to get into a private school.

A Victorian mother was told that she was not ‘playing to the rules’ by withdrawing her son and that ‘he had to do it!’ A NSW school principal refused a request from the P&C to put the withdrawal form on the school website because ;I am not allowed to do that’.”  [Trevor Cobbalt: Fighting for Equity in Education – NAPLAN is a Cancer Eating Away at Education.

Recommended Links

Gold Medal : ACEL
Classroom Teacher : 17 years
Primary Principal : 22 years
State Administrator: 17 years
41 Cominan Avenue
Banora Point 2486
07 5524 6443

Proxy NAPLAN; Parenting trap.

 The Treehorn Express

Treehorn is the hero of an easy-to-read, sad children’s book, “The Shrinking of Treehorn” by Florence Heidi Parry. She cleverly exposes adults’ couldn’t-care-less attitude towards the needs of children, even when the circumstances of mal-treatment of children  are patently obvious.  Treehorn found that parents, teachers and principals only pretend to care.  His principal ignored his problem but was still able to say, “You were right to come to me. That’s what I’m here for. To guide. Not to punish, but to guide. To guide all members of my team. To solve their problems.” And Treehorn kept shrinking.

When he started to turn green, his mother told him to comb his hair before the Smedleys arrived for bridge.


In the 100 years since we really got serious about education as a universally good idea, we have managed to take away the 15 years of children’s lives that should be the most carefree, inquisitive and memorable and fill them with a motley collection of stress and a neurotic fear of failure. [A,A.Gill]


In a “rapid, verbal, energetic, improvised verbal outpouring” [aka “riff”]…..Seth Godin riffs on marketing, respect and the ways that ideas spread…..

Avoiding the false proxy trap.

Sometimes, we can’t measure what we need to measure, so we invent a proxy, something that’s much easier to measure and stands in as an approximation.

TV advertisers, for example, could never tell which viewers would be impacted by an ad, so instead, they measured how many people saw it. Or a model might not be able to measure beauty, but a bathroom scale is a handy stand in.

A business person might choose cash in the bank as a measure of his success, and a book publisher, unable to easily figure out if the right people are engaging with the book, might rely instead on a rank on a single bookseller list.

One last example: the non-profit organisation that uses money raised as a proxy for difference made.

You’ve already guessed the problem. Once you find the simple proxy and decide to make it go up, there are lots of available tactics that have nothing at all to do with improving the thing you set out to achieve in the first place. When we fall in love with a proxy, we spend our time improving the proxy instead of focusing on our original (more important) goal instead.    {Why  do I keep thinking 5×25?}

Gaming the system is never the goal. The goal is the goal.


The Parenting Trap

A.A.Gill, a father of four argues that the biggest problem that kids face is the byzantine education-industrial complex known as school, which ruins the most carefree and memorable years of their lives. He says that you are not allowed to put his article on the fridge door nor put it in a file marked “Kids’ Stuff”.  Have a smile or big laugh at the way he gets his message across.

You will enjoy it.


 When my child goes to school I want her/him to be treated as a pupil in the hands of enthusiastic quality  schooling professionals, whose perceptual overview of the multitude of pupilling acts that happen each day at school, borders on perfect. I want the kind of leadership at the political and organizational level that is ethical and protective, keen and pleasant, unhampered by hammerers and measurers. I want a school full of people who think about the consequences of their actions; and don’t just hammer and measure because despoilers of children’s lives tell them to. [Jan Moroney]


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