AUSSIE EDUCATOR

The quality of an education system can never exceed the quality of its teachers. Andreas Schleicher

As is usual, there are plenty of topics being covered in press items with a specific link to education. In fact, there are probably more than enough not to even try listing them here. Some of these fall within specific topic areas. Sometimes these are linked with a specific school, system or area within a particular state or territory. Others cover a single state or territory. Then come the biggies, those aspects which have a national impact.

Again there are a number to choose from among these. Some stand out, though perhaps not for the first time over recent years - Vocational Education, School zoning, funding as always - especially relating to universities and international education in Australia.

We could probably add several more that are worthy of further conversation which hopefully will achieve this in other venues. Two of the above have arisen on multiple previous occasions, have been selected from this wide choice of options, and and some thought as well as links to research and other media are provided below.

  • If ever there was an area of education which needed support and a working solution to its current ills, Vocational Education would be way up there. In many ways it is regarded as the less important component of the tertiary sector [which it is not]. Changing requirements in current and future education needs are sometimes seen as a further blow to its viability [again, not necessarily true].
  • The sector has gone through a very trying period with a government sector [TAFE] which seemed to be becoming swamped by a private sector boom. This in turn, caused a whole range of problems which did nothing for the sector’s good name. There always seems to be some level of concern over who should control the sector [and fund it of course].
  • Now we have the new government [commonwealth] making some positive statements - Minister Cash while the Prime Minister asked the states to back a proposed overhaul of the sector. This was then followed up at the COAG Meeting on 9 August [see section and downloads from the Communique via this link].
  • A few days later, a relevant report was published by the Grattan Institute. Andrew Norton and Ittima Cherastidtham have posed an interesting question - when is vocational education a good alternative to higher education ? Even in the general descriptor page there are a series of statements and questions well worth considering.
  • Of course there was a range of commentary stemming from, or associated with the area, including Training.com.au, The Saturday Paper, Mirage News [several items], 7NEWS, Campus Morning Mail, 9News, ABC News and interestingly a blog item from Andrew Norton re the perceived status of vocation and higher education. Be sure to try this New Zealand video about vocational education [which he recommends], it is well worth it.
  • So far, there has been a lot of talk, various impressions of what is happening [or should happen] and at least the establishment of a group which is to report back with a proposal for the future. As with many things people have talked the talk, there seems to be a unity of purpose in all the realms of power and now we wait to see what options are presented.
  • That will then be the time to walk the walk. One hopes the unity currently being shown continues and that a viable and fully supported implementation is made. Not only will the nation benefit but so will all individuals wanting to extend their education and learning by allowing them to achieve their individual potential in the most appropriate manner. It has taken some time to reach this point. Do not let the initial achievement be wasted.
  • Why school choice is good for families, but not for the system is a recent article pertaining to NSW schools. It presents clear, valid reasons why both sides may have different ideas about the matter of choice. It also throws up the fact that several groups may suffer after a recent decision to crack-down on out-of-area enrolments. Further commentary is found here and here.
  • States generally implement a “School Enrolment Plan” and have done for a considerable time [e.g. Queensland and also here]. It has generally allowed a degree of flexibility so schools and parents have some level of choice wherever this is possible, based on numbers and circumstances. Like any scheme which is not completely rigid in its format, it has been gamed on numerous occasions in a variety of ways [see here], hence a term such as “school shopping”, plus many others.
  • While NSW has probably drawn the most attention, they are not the only state addressing this or a similar problem. Tasmania is in consultation about school intake area maps [and also here]. Victoria has been clamping down on this process for some time. South Australia has undergone a range of changes in relation to several high schools.
  • In a number of cases the movement of student’s families [see Canberra as an example of this] gives rise to the necessity for either changes or a clamping down on the gaming of enrolments. The trick will be to find a methodology which allows for both the system and the families involved, thought regrettably, there will always be those who feel they have been hard done by. It can even lead to stories such as this one.
  • One of the real tests will be the level and method of explanation provided for a clamp down such as the one in NSW. Without it, there will undoubtedly be many more of the scary possibilities and negative stories, than an understanding of the quite valid reasons why something had to be done to avoid a situation where some schools are partially empty and others are busting at the seams. And yes, if all schools were of the highest quality, some of these concerns may not exist but there are many factors which work to prevent this and which are unlikely to change in the near future.
  • The final result has yet to be seen and the final handling of the process will be paramount to achieving the best possible outcome.
  • Do you have a clear idea of what would help raise the status of teaching as a career and encourage others to take up teaching ? If so, then there is a golden opportunity for you to become involved in a process designed to achieve this.
  • Become involved with Future Teachers Talk, ‘a ground-breaking, nationwide, virtual roundtable where your opinions matter. We want to hear what you think would help to attract more candidates – particularly secondary school students – into teaching. Over the coming weeks we’ll be challenging you in Problem and Solution Jams, which are designed to stimulate discussions and lead to innovative proposals to tackle important and difficult real-world issues faced by potential and current teachers’. Interested ? Find out more here.

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There seems to be an unending supply of documents being produced about all aspects of education. It proves difficult at times to select only a few for inclusion [‘Life wasn’t meant to be easy’]. Several recent items are listed below that are felt to warrant at least a brief mention. See what you think about each and whether you agree or not. Most items are Australian in origin. Follow each link that piques your particular interest.

Attendance Matters
AITSL. ‘Teacher quality is the single most important in-school factor influencing student achievement [Hattie, 2009]. However, the relationship between teacher quality and student achievement is mediated by the amount of time students spend in the classroom. Irrespective of the reasons for absences, non-attendance affects student outcomes’.

Education expenditure in Australia 2019
‘This report offers a detailed insight into investment in Australian education, capturing data from all levels – from early childhood to higher education – and all funding sources – the federal government, state governments, private contributions and the transfers that take place between these. The complex picture shown in this report offers an important reference point for policy-makers, educators, researchers and economists’. Download from the site.

School education : a quick guide to key internet links
August 2018 Update. ‘Links to information about national policy and administrative framework for school education, Australian Government funding for schools, individual schools, statistical sources—including student achievement statistics and other international statistics, Indigenous school education, Australian organisations, international organisations and overseas education departments and state and territory government websites’.

Stop Talking about the Future of Work
‘While we are drowning in a sea of noise about the “future of work”, real solutions to actual workplace questions are thin on the ground. To meet those challenges, EY is calling for government, organisations and education to come together and address our immediate need for readiness. It’s time to define the future, understand it and ensure we don’t sleepwalk into tomorrow’.

The Student Journey : Skilling for Life
‘In this discussion paper, we look at how vocational education and training supports lifelong learners. We explore VET’s role in assisting lifelong learning and seek to understand how VET will need to transform in the future to enable it to confront the challenges of an increasingly complex and changing world. We also profile the various lifelong learner types’.

Time to rethink Australia’s higher education governance
‘Our current approach to governing higher education needs re-engineering’. A relatively short article but one which targets the major points needing to be considered.


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