Barr loses track of his students in Towards 2020 upheaval

Mr Andrew Barr MLA, the Minister for Education and Training, has refused to provide a report on the geographic distribution of ACT students amongst government schools, leading to the conclusion that his Department does not routinely maintain its own records of student information.

Without such basic information about his students, how does the Minister propose to assess the gains he claims were to be made by Towards 2020, including closing a large number of schools?

Continue reading “Barr loses track of his students in Towards 2020 upheaval”

Addressing the Social Divide in Education

A new report just published by the UK charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, has highlighted need to address the educational divide. It shows that children growing up in poverty and disadvantage are less likely to do well at school. Family disadvantage is passed on from one generation to the next in a cycle of underachievement. The report says that the attitudes and experiences that lie behind social differences in education need to be addressed to break this cycle.

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Economists Say Budget Surplus is Unjustified

Several well-known economists have criticised the large Budget surplus recorded by the ACT Government. They have accused the Government of poor economic management and they all say that the Government should be spending some of the surplus instead of sitting on it.

ANZ Chief Economist, Saul Eslake, was not impressed with the ACT Government’s financial management. He said that the ACT surplus stood out from that recorded by other states. “It’s a big miss, it’s hard to understand,” he told the Canberra Times (17 August).

Mr. Eslake said that the surplus raised questions as to whether school closures had to be so severe.

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School Flagpole Farce

Remember Brendan Nelson’s edict that every school in Australia should have functioning flagpole and fly the Australian flag? It was part of the Government’s plan to promote Australian values and patriotism.

It also had a Government self-promotion component. As a condition of receiving Federal funding for flagpoles, schools were required to invite a coalition MP to a flag-unveiling ceremony, publish a picture of the MP in the school newsletter, and erect a plaque acknowledging that it was a gift from the Government.

Well, apparently Government MPs haven’t been turning up to the ceremonies and this has meant that many schools have been unable to meet the conditions for Federal funding. It seems that some Government members are not as committed to public patriotism as their leaders would wish. Continue reading “School Flagpole Farce”

You Have A Choice…Do As I Say

Julie Bishop’s ultimatum that the ACT introduce external Year 12 exams exposes the hypocrisy of the Howard Government’s education policy.

Despite its rhetoric of choice in education as being fundamental to respecting different needs, it readily over-rules the choices of parents, teachers and students where it suits Government prejudices and interests. Continue reading “You Have A Choice…Do As I Say”

Cheating to Improve School Results is Rampant

Publishing school results does not necessarily lead to real improvements in school performance, whatever the Howard Government and the Labor Opposition may argue. The desire to achieve a high ranking and enhance a school’s reputation often leads to cheating and other ways of manipulating school results. Continue reading “Cheating to Improve School Results is Rampant”

Labor Backs School League Tables

Whatever Government is in power next year, we can expect to be treated to an annual public hunt for the worst schools in Australia.

The Federal ALP has joined forces with the Howard Government’s plan for a ‘crime and punishment’ approach to school improvement. The Shadow Minister for Education, Stephen Smith, says that a Federal Labor Government will ensure that state governments publish school literacy and numeracy results. Continue reading “Labor Backs School League Tables”