6 out of 643

I had thought that my Treehorn article called ‘It’s NAPLAN time. Bring out the law book’ and a couple of quickies since, would be my swansong.  I am flattered, of course, that Professor Diane Ravitch of the University of New York [home-town of our founder Joel Klein] repeated my article in her blog which has an extensive distribution in the USA.  Professor Ravitch is the former Deputy Director of Education for the USA. She’s an icon.

But then, 9 May was the first day of NAPLAN testing and  the Kimberley College episode hit the fan.

What happened yesterday, the first day of NAPLAN 2017, at Kimberley College?


Only SIX out of 343

sat the NAPLAN test.

That means that the parents of six pupils at Kimberley College have been misguided by the ramblings of testucators who reside beyond the school gate. Shame.

Kimberley College  [https://www.kimberleycollege.org/] is a private school established by a group of parents just to the south of Brisbane  in 2000.  Back then, they wanted to have their children move into secondary schooling with the enthusiasm for learning and for achievement that they had developed at Kimberley Park State Primary School.  Principal Paul Thomson was using the regular curriculum to establish THINKING as the most useful educational outcome, using multi-aged settings through to Year 10 to maximise the learning effort.  It’s a place where deep thought is given by parents to the learning habits of their children, to the richness of their happily stimulated minds and what the future holds for them. De Bono’s spirit is in the air. Creative, conceptual thinking pervades the curriculum.

There is really no place in a serious, fair-dinkum learning institution like Kimberley College for killer tests like NAPLAN.   Standardised blanket testing of the NAPLAN kind, products of testucators’ compulsive adoration of data, are anathema to the parents of this school. They want their children to learn and to achieve at higher than normal levels.  NAPLAN’s focus on mediocrity doesn’t suit them, and NAPLAN’s DNA contains that measurement virus that disposes children to hate Maths, Science, Reading Literature.  The testing regime is clearly based on fear and anxiousness. It is a repressive, stress ridden threat to each child’s mental health. It has run-on effects. It has no place on school premises.

Kimberley College would be popular at this time with Treasurer Scott Morrison.  NAPLAN itself is a really ‘bad debt’, costing Australia billions each year to administer; and it ensures the loss of an industrial and intellectual future.  Inestimable. The parents at Kimberley College have just contributed a few thousand dollars to the national welfare. I figure that $5000 is a reasonable estimate for over 300 papers, supervision, delivery,  measurement of desks from each other by visiting officials….and the million other nuisances that schools musty tolerate because of NAPLAN.

It’s such a pity that our testucators do not know what happens in schools and in classrooms, minute by minute, day by day….the things that seriously detract from the learning enterprise.  It’s a pity that they are so inexperienced at what really happens in the classroom.

NAPLAN is surely the biggest threat to learning that this country has even seen.

Sincerely. May God bless the parents of Kimberley College for showing us the way.  The rest of Australia just might learn something.


Phil Cullen  http:primaryschooling.net    http://treehornexress.wordpress.com




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  cphilcullen@bigpond.com.au  Refer: Who’s Who in Australia


A Toad called ‘Naplan’

“Indifferent to opinions of real experts in Australia, or USA or the UK or Finland or anywhere in the world, our power-drunk  
education know-it-all 
then had to use underhand ‘client-capture’ techniques to have her way and to cover-up a monstrous brain-fart.”
Aussie Friends of Treehorn
protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
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.
A Toad Called NAPLAN
If ever you see a large, ugly cane toad in your garden, call him “Naplan”.  He’s a darling of all the political  hoi-poloi and educratic know-it-alls.  Both the toad and his namesake share a similar history. They were both mistakenly introduced to do a special job. Those who brought them both to Australia thought that they knew better than anybody else. Big mistake. A political decision to introduce both kinds of vermin was too hurried; immediate; on sight; no questions asked.  They were desperate. They thought that they were on a winner because some smart-alecs in Hawaii and New York told them so. No checking of consequences.
Indifferent to opinions of real experts in Australia or USA or the UK or Finland or anywhere in the world,  our power-drunk education know-it-all then had to use underhand ‘client capture’ techniques to have her way and to cover-up a monstrous brain-fart. No research. No checking how things are going or  likely to go. No public talk. No need. A dramatic blunder of gargantuan proportions!  The school testing debacle continues….but it can be stopped. Parents just have to say ‘NO!’  High stakes testing wasn’t even needed in the first place. Her bowel movements must have been irregular at the cocktail party where her decision to introduce kleinism to Australia was made; on the spot, before Rupert and Joel even said ‘Goodnight’. A dry martini did it.
Australia was committed to a Klein version of schooling.
Millions of dollars later and ever-lasting  gross destruction of our intellectual landscape by NAPLAN testing and our  physical landscape by almost-as-ugly toads, the waste continues.
[The cane toads introduced to the cane fields of Gordonvale, North Queensland, gobbled up tonnes of cane beetles that flew close to the ground. Nobody had bothered to check to see how high toads could leap nor how high beetles could fly!!. A total waste. No prior thought. The voracious hungry ones migrated from NQ to see what they could eat around the eastern part of Australia and the Northern Territory.]
There’s a lesson to be learned, by our brown-nosed educrats and our indifferent political candidates, from our now millions-strong army of cane toads, each called ‘Naplan’,  don’t you think? We must OPT OUT and ….
That’ll be new for our politico-educrats, won’t it?  BUT….

Australia’s order of business for educational improvement needs to be…..

                                                                                                                                   2. RETURN TEACHING TO TEACHERS.
                                                                                                                                   3. THINK
                                                                                                                                   4. TALK
                                                                                                                                   5. REINVENT A SYSTEM OF SCHOOL LEARNING.
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443   cphilcullen@bigpond.com         
    http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/

Educational Malpractice.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn
protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
That’s what Standardised Blanket Testing does – whether it be NCLB [USA], Standards Testing [NZ] or NAPLAN [Australia].  It’s an essential part of its modus operandi.  It is wrecking so many little lives.  
It’s malpractice!
Just substitute ‘Australian’ for ‘American’
Brave teachers who will stick-up for kids are needed more than ever in our history.
Never before have children been so systematically abused and tormented.
Teachers and parents need to form a coalition of determined anti-naplaners.
Even though it may be too late to dump NAPLAN testing in Australia  this year, let’s opt out of the tests on May 10,11,12; and talk about schooling on June 1 at Southbank, Brisbane.
Is Kleinism [aka ‘Fear Driven Schooling] the kind of system that Australia needs? It isn’t working very well.
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  0   cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/
07 5524 6443          0407865999
proud to be sticking-up for kids
looking for a decent political party to vote for….one that thinks 
 Let’s think 
What do you think ?  Finland wants to abandon the teaching of subjects!


Test Prep

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided
It’s Test Prep Time
Aussie kids should be sweating it out now.
“Test Prep is about studying the arcane way that the tests structure the questions….far from straight forward….deliberately tricky…don’t teach anything – useless…..handling the computer component….
makes a lot of money for Test Prep companies …”
For “Common Core”, read “NAPLAN”
PARENTS’  RALLY –  Southbank, BRISBANE –  1 JUNE – 11.30 a.m.
Show ‘THEM’ that you are serious about your child’s schooling.
Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  0   cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/
07 5524 6443          0407865999
proud to be sticking-up for kids
looking for a decent, democratic party to vote for
hoping that Australian schools will concentrate on mass devotion to a love for  learning soon.

Opting Out? ACARA details

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

protecting school children from nasty excesses of the greedy and misguided


They need our serious consideration

What are trying to do to our kids?

Can I withdraw my child from the tests? I have a ‘philosophical objection’ (See “Withdrawals” below]. Yes. Indeed.  I hate the rotten things; Amen.

Below is an extract from ACARA’s attack on parental rights…..the sort of rules that Gradgrind would insist upon….trying to remove as many parental  rights as possible.  They are removed without remorse or feeling or compassion for child welfare.  We need to consider what these testucratic bullies are doing to us and our children. NAPLAN represents political bullying of the worst totalitarian kind.

No recognition of parents’ rights. Parents not even asked if they approve of high stakes testing for their children.

The ‘bull’ is highlighted in red in the ACARA documentation below. Please pause and think when you come to something in red.

Parents can and should ignore any references to testucating expectations and the demand that a formal application must be received in time (Para 1). That is absolute rubbish.  Australia is a democracy and such demands [reminiscent of totalitarian states] are out of place. The Rule of Law applies to school children even though they are at school. ACARA is ordering children to submit to the torture of fear and emotional upset caused by standardised blanket testing. We all know that such intrusions into the curriculum cause gross emotional upset and a dislike for certain subjects [e.g. Maths & Science] and a general dislike for schooling itself.


You will note that ACARA  says that NAPLAN tests are “a part of school routine”.   RUBBISH.    SHEER UNADULTERATED RUBBISH.  Until NAPLAN took over the curriculum and school time tables, all schools had their own forms of Learning, Evaluation and Reporting programs. NAPLAN is an insulting one-off intrusive attack on all respectable, professional, home-grown school evaluation programs. It just took over.  In 2008, it instituted a monstrous disruption to teaching and learning by political fiat, that is now seriously affecting school operations and our children’s educational welfare….and the country’s future.


All in all, the amount of valuable learning time that is consumed by NAPLAN nonsense for months each year is frightening. It’s far too much….

and there have been no positive results……on the contrary……only diminishing test scores and a battered curriculum.


“While participation by all students is expected, students may be withdrawn from the testing program by their parent/carer. This is a matter for consideration by individual parents/carers. Withdrawals are intended to address issues such as religious beliefs and philosophical objections to testing. A formal application in the manner specified for each state or territory must be received by the principal prior to the testing. Your principal can provide further information about the withdrawal process. For more information, see Student participation.




Exemptions may be granted for students with a language background other than English or for students with a disability. In both cases, schools need to discuss the proposed exemption with the student’s parent/carer and gain their permission prior to the testing period.

English language proficiency: Students with a language background other than English who arrived from overseas and have been attending school for less than a year before the test may be exempted. However, these students are not automatically exempt and should be given the opportunity to participate in testing. Principals can expect information from test administration authorities on the preferred method for collecting and recording this information. Students may be exempt from one test (e.g. reading) but still be able to participate in another test (e.g. numeracy).

Students with disability: Adjustments are provided to students with disability to support access to the tests and encourage maximum participation.  Students with significant intellectual disability and/or those with significant co-existing conditions which severely limit their capacity to participate in the tests may be exempted from sitting the national tests. This is determined after consultation has occurred between the principal and the relevant parent/carer, and if it is decided the student is not able to access the tests with adjustments. For more information on the types of adjustments available, see the section on Adjustments for students with disability.


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.


Students are considered absent for test purposes in the following instances:

  • They did not sit the tests because they were not present at school when the test was administered.
  • They were unable to sit the test as a result of an accident or mishap.
  • They were at school but were too ill to partic


Principals are encouraged to enable the participation of students who were absent on the day of the test but who return to school within the week scheduled for NAPLAN testing.”

Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  
 cphilcullen@bigpond.com             http://primaryschooling.net/                     http://qldprimaryprincipals.wordpress.com/
07 5524 6443          0407865999 
proud to be sticking-up for kids
looking for a decent political party to vote for….one that thinks 
 Let’s think 
Have a peep at the attachment from John Oliver.


Why do we tolerate it?