NSW Public Education Deals With Student Behaviour – Déjà vu All Over Again

The release of the new Student Behaviour Strategy again demonstrates the disconnect between public schools, where teaching takes place and the accepted authorities the education bureaucracy and academia.  This current ‘policy’ is one of successive attempts to deal with severely disruptive student behaviour in schools.  Historically all have failed and, despite the best intentions nothing in this proposal is new and there is no reason to believe the outcome of this attempt will be any different. 

This new strategy is contained in another glossy document complete with the usual motherhood statements asserting the Department’s commitment to providing support for these damaged children and promises of increased resources.  It even has the obligatory illustration of the complex interactions of the promises as shown below.  Hanging a collection of these diagrams from all previous policies would have as much impact on changing the plight of these students as constructing a ‘dream-catcher’ of these to hang over their beds.  In this latest model, shown below the ten strategies at the core of the policy are not in dispute, they are motherhood statements but any experienced teacher who deals with the problems dysfunctional behaviour creates finds these pretty pictures quite hurtful, they are denied the resources to implement them.  Of course, no one can deny the importance of the ten strategies, they are stating the obvious but these promises are never kept.

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Labor’s Gonski Model: The National Plan for School Improvement

The following is the Conclusion of a new working paper published by Save Our Schools. It provides a comprehensive review of the of the implementation of the Gonski funding model by the Labor Government in 2013. The full paper can be downloaded below. Comments on the paper are invited. Notification of issues not covered and mistakes of fact, analysis and interpretation will be appreciated. Please excuse any remaining typos and repetitions. Comments can be sent to the Save Our Schools email address: saveourschools690@gmail.com

The implementation of the Gonski funding model represented a watershed in school funding in Australia. It changed the whole focus of school funding from increasing choice under the Howard Government’s SES model to improving equity in education. It also broke with the past by providing an objective and consistent approach to funding schools and to establish an integrated national approach to school funding across jurisdictions and school sectors.

The major achievement of Labor’s National Plan for School Improvement (NPSI) was to legislate the principles and framework for a funding system based on need. It established a minimum resource standard for every school in the country and provided additional funding loadings for various forms of disadvantaged students: low SES, Indigenous, remote area, language background other than English and students with disabilities.

The model was supported by the commitment of a massive increase in funding of nearly $16 billion over six years, the large part of which was to go to public schools. It offered the best chance in living memory to make a real difference in improving the education outcomes for disadvantaged students, most of who are enrolled in public schools. It promised a huge boost to public education.

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Misguided policies directly causing remote Indigenous students’ poor school attendance and literacy, and rising incarceration rates

The following is a media reslease from the Australian Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) in the Northern Territory. It summaries a submission to the Inquiry on Adult Literacy conducted by the Senate Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training.

Misguided Commonwealth and NT Government policies are directly contributing to remote Indigenous students’ falling school attendance and abysmal literacy levels, according to two scathing submissions by a teachers’ organisation to a current federal Parliamentary Inquiry.

“Applying the same education policies to students who are culturally and linguistically different doesn’t result in equity,” said Fran Murray, the ATESOL NT representative to the Australian Council of TESOL Associations. “In fact, it’s widening the gap, not closing it.”

The submissions explain why Closing the Gap targets for Indigenous education are increasingly out of reach: remote schools are in crisis. Meanwhile, the number of Indigenous young people in NT prisons has doubled in the past year.

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Understanding equity in education: New article

Press Release by MCERA on 14 July 2021

The World Bank,  the OECD and the United Nations recently recognised educational inequity as a growing global challenge. But what does educational equity look like and how is it achieved?

“All children have a right to high quality education. This basic principle is stated in international agreements and national education laws. UN’s Sustainable Development Goals expect that the member states “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. In many countries, including in Australia, this goal has become harder to reach.

“Refocusing education policies and leadership on equity, as has happened in Australia and in many other OECD countries, will have little real impact on education systems performance unless policymakers have much better common understanding of what equity in education means and why it is an important part of leading successful education systems,” Professor Sahlberg said.

Sahlberg and Cobbold propose that equity in education comprise both an individual and a social group aspect. 

All children should receive at least a minimum standard of education that enables them to make their own way in adult society while children from different social groups should achieve similar education outcomes. “Our aim is to give an operational definition of equity in education. This is necessary to better guide the development of education policymaking, especially as it relates to equity and its implementation by school leaders and achieving consistent approaches to improving equity in education.”

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Defining Equity in Education

A paper by Pasi Sahlberg and Trevor Cobbold is published in the academic journal School Leadership and Management. The paper reviews approaches to defining equity in education and proposes a unique dual objective comprising an adequate education for all students and similar outcomes for students from different social groups.

Abstract

Equity has become a central principle in educational policy and leadership around the world. However, there is a wide range of interpretations of equity and what it means in education. In this article we explore different definitions of educational equity from policy and leadership perspectives. Our aim is to give an operational definition of equity in education to overcome vague interpretations and better guide the development of educational leadership for more consistent approaches to improving equity in education. We argue that equity in education should refer to equity of educational outcomes and incorporate both an individual and a social group aspect. We then claim that equality of outcomes is more relevant to comparisons between social groups than individuals, and we call that social equity. In current literature one or the other aspect has been adopted as an equity objective, but it appears combining the two elements is much less common. This dual objective is unique in the discussion around what equity in education means and how it could guide educational policymaking and leadership.

Public Schools do More than Private Schools with Fewer Resources

The following is a summary of an Education Research Paper published by Save Our Schools. The full paper can be downloaded below.

Public schools have to do much more than private schools with far fewer resources. New figures show that public schools continue to bear the large burden of education disadvantage. Enrolments of disadvantaged students in public schools are over double that in private schools but public schools have far less income. The burden of disadvantage of public schools is three times that of private schools when their lower income is considered.

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Education Resource Gaps in Australia Remain Amongst the Largest in the World

The following is a summary of a new Education Research Brief published by Save Our Schools. It can be downloaded below.

Disadvantaged students in Australia are being denied equal opportunities to learn because they face far more shortages of teachers and material resources than advantaged students. The gaps in access to education resources between advantaged and disadvantaged schools in Australia, between rural and city schools and between public and private schools are huge. Not only are they amongst the largest in the OECD but they are also amongst the largest in the world. This is totally unacceptable for a country that regards itself as egalitarian.

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New Review of Evidence That Increased Education Spending Leads to Improved Outcomes

A new paper published by the US Century Foundation reviews studies of two school finance reforms in the US that proved effective at improving student outcomes, especially in low-income and previously lower-spending schools. The two reforms reviewed are new school funding formulae introduced in Massachusetts in 1993 and in California in 2013. Both reforms were based on the principle that school districts serving higher need children require not the same, but more resources per student.

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New Study Shows that the Social Composition of Schools Strongly Influences School Results

There is extensive research evidence of the impact of family background on student results. Many studies from the United States, the United Kingdom, the OECD and Australia also show a school socio-economic composition (SEC) effect whereby students attending schools with a high concentration of students from poor families tend to have lower results than students from similar backgrounds attending schools with higher proportions of students from well-off backgrounds.

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US Court Rules a Fundamental Right to Education

In a ground-breaking decision last week, the US Court of Appeals ruled that the US Constitution “provides a fundamental right to a basic minimum education” for all students and that the “Supreme Court has recognized that basic literacy is foundational to our political process and society”. The decision makes it clear that public education has a critical role in providing the right to a basic education.

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