Vic Govt Agrees to Support P-TECH Schools

The recent Senate Estimates hearings revealed that the Victorian Government has agreed to support the establishment of two P-TECH schools in Ballarat and Geelong. A joint announcement by the Federal and Victorian ministers of education is imminent according to Federal Education Department officials.

The P-TECH schools are a pet project of the Prime Minister following his visit to the flagship school in Brooklyn, New York, last year. It was another “captain’s call” by the Prime Minister that has not received adequate public scrutiny. Details of the program are shrouded in secrecy and are being developed and negotiated behind closed doors. The Estimates hearings shed little light on the arrangements. Continue reading “Vic Govt Agrees to Support P-TECH Schools”

Federal Education Dept Befuddled by Pyne’s Funding Increase Claims

The recent Senate Estimates hearings revealed that the Federal Department of Education and Training could not justify Christopher Pyne’s often repeated claim that school funding has increased by 40 per cent in the last 10 years.

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Lessons That Matter From East Asian Education

The success of East Asian countries in international tests has led to a flurry of interest in many other countries, including Australia, to analyse the reasons for this success and apply the lessons. However, a paper published last month by internationally renowned educator, Yong Zhao, shows that East Asian countries are abandoning education practices and policies that many outside observers have praised. The targets for reform are the very education practices and policies that have been praised by outside observers – national curriculum, high-stakes testing, meritocracy, direct instruction, and long school hours.

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Low SES Students Do Better Than High SES Students at University

A report by the Victoria Institute for Strategic Economic Studies shows that first year students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds at Victoria University achieve better results than high SES students. It also found that students from lower performing schools seem to perform better than their peers from elite schools.

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Improving Equity in Education Increases Economic Growth

Two recently-published studies show that inequality in education is a significant factor affecting economic growth. Both studies find that income inequality limits economic growth because low income families tend to have low education outcomes. The studies recommend policies to improve the education outcomes of disadvantaged students.  Improving the education outcomes of these children would increase workforce skills, productivity, incomes and economic output.

One study was published by the OECD last December. The other study was published in February by the European Expert Network on Economics of Education (EENEE), a think tank sponsored by the European Commission. It was done by economists from the University of Sydney and the London School of Economics.

The studies have important implications for education policy in Australia. Although income and education inequality in Australia is less than in many OECD countries they are significant. In particular, a large proportion of children from low socio-economic backgrounds do not achieve an adequate education and there are large gaps in achievement between rich and poor. Increasing the education outcomes of these children would not only increase their life chances but would also increase economic growth.

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P-TECH Schools are Unproven and Threaten Public Education

The following is a summary of an Education Policy Brief by Save Our Schools on P-TECH schools. The full Brief can be downloaded below.

Last year, the Federal Government announced $0.5 million funding for a new type of school in Australia incorporating high school education and two years of tertiary training. It is based on the P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College) school in Brooklyn, New York, established by the giant IT multinational IBM and now being rolled out in several US cities. The model is personally endorsed by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. Under the proposal, two existing schools in Ballarat and Geelong will be converted into P-TECH schools.

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P-TECH Schools Are Unproven and Threaten Public Education

Save Our Schools today called for public consultation and scrutiny of the P-TECH schools proposed for Ballarat and Geelong and sponsored by the giant IT multinational IBM. SOS National Convenor, Trevor Cobbold, said that P-TECH schools are unproven and threaten public education.

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OECD Report Shows That Refusing to Fund Gonski is Short-Sighted

A new OECD report shows that the refusal of the Federal Government and several state governments to commit to the full Gonski funding plan is incredibly short-sighted. It will mean substantially lower economic growth over the next 80 years than could be achieved by getting all students to a basic skill level at school.

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A Teacher’s Comment on NAPLAN

Earlier this week the ABC’s Life Matters program ran a segment on parents taking their children out of the NAPLAN tests. It generated considerable discussion. A listener who is a teacher sent SOS this response to the program.

School leaders and systems do use NAPLAN and recognise NAPLAN because it has now become the universal measure across the country because of its official status as a measure and not because it is valuable per se. It would be a concern if teachers relied on NAPLAN as a diagnostic tool and only relied on NAPLAN given the time lag between the test and the results. Good teachers are constantly assessing students in a number of ways but do not rely on a single standardised test but involve students in continual modes of improvement. Testing is not part of life, it is part of school life. How often does anyone who goes to work have to sit an exam to prove that they are learning, that they are doing their job, and demonstrating all they know in an hour or two? We would say as adults that would be unreasonable. Performance evaluation at work relies on continuous practice. Continue reading “A Teacher’s Comment on NAPLAN”