Aussie Educator

The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives. Robert John Meehan

Welcome to a new year in education. We appreciate your support and hope you continue to find the site as useful throughout the year as in the past.

This year, little is planned for the structure of the site. There may be minor modifications but no major structural alterations. The concentration instead will be on ensuring we maintain content as accurately as possible. As recent experience has shown, some pages go through large update requirements in quite short periods. Different groups seem to make changes to their url on a regular basis, while other content can often change quite quickly. To ensure we have material as up-to-date as possible will, therefore, be our number one priority.

We will also be monitoring usage to ensure what we are providing is what you are finding worthwhile. One recent addition is a page of Acronyms and Abbreviations in Australian education. We have already added more since the page first went up. We hope you find it useful if you are unsure what an acronym actually represents. As you would be aware, we have also archived a number of pages, and removed others you had not found particularly important. Others may well trend this way through 2017. As in the past, we will notify you of any additions or removals throughout the year.

The Year Ahead

2017 for education has begun fairly quietly. This will not be the case throughout the rest of the year. As a way of understanding the range of major discussions, demands, changes you might consider revisiting some of those that occurred or began in 2016.

An easy way of doing so would be to read 2016, the year that was : Education and Four education claims of 2016 - reviewed. There is a range of other material available, but these cover major areas in a clear and easy to comprehend way. As the source of the above indicates, “Despite little progress in policy reform, it has been a superb year of debate and discussion around some pressing issues facing education”.

One area has undergone significant change in the last month - VET. The VET Students Loan Scheme began operation on 1 January, replacing the previous discredited scheme. A Campus Morning Mail Summer Special, in late December 2016, provided a wealth of information and commentary relating to the Auditor’s report leading up to this. Amid a range of claims about the new scheme, it will be interesting to see what eventuates. If it does nothing more than remove shonks from the area, it will have achieved much. There will undoubtedly be a range of commentary, good and bad, as the year progresses.

Meanwhile NCVER continues to produce data and research for this area. The latest, Government-funded students and courses - January to September 2016, will provide you with all the most recent data for this often neglected area.

Higher Education is one area which can expect to undergo some form of change as a result of options mooted in 2017. A range of possible reforms were canvassed in Driving Innovation, Fairness and Excellence in Australian Higher Education [May 2016] and discussed over the remainder of the year. However, only the perennial discussion about the ATAR really received any action by the end of the year.

As part of a commentary, Greg Craven may have hit the nail on the head when indicating ‘the malaise which is the underlying disease [is] the fundamental disagreement within and around our higher education system as to what it should be and what purposes it should serve’. It really does come down to the fact if you do not know what you are trying to do, you will not be successful. I was particularly impressed with the comment - ‘Higher education debate cannot consist of a series of rhetorical groundhog days’. Try the full commentary here.

Similarly with Peter Hoj in a recent statement - ‘We want to get away from brickbats being thrown among groups. For debate to be more mature and not personal will be a great step forward’.

Without a doubt, funding, fees, fee repayment, de-regulation, the demand-driven system and much more will be front and centre over the coming months. We already see notice of this through articles relating to completion rates, with universities and percentages being provided. [Completion rates in the Vocational sector may also be cause for concern.] Research funding is also likely to raise its head again. And the list goes on.

The Schools sector will probably provide the loudest roar of the year. Not only is funding a major issue of discontent [and a political football to boot], the impact of the results from TIMSS, PISA and NAPLAN will simply not go away.

There have been numerous suggestions regarding funding. These range from “just give us the money”; take less but target it better; through to suggestions such as Circuit breaker : a new compact on school funding from the Grattan Institute and Uneven Playing Field : The State of Australia’s Schools, Chris Bonnor & Bernie Shepherd.

Other areas such as teacher education and employment, technology, the never-ending public/private discussion and recently the crucial need for more schools in central city areas will raise all sorts of discussion. While these will rise and [perhaps] die down, the funding process will remain the really big area of focus throughout the year.

In many ways Early Childhood education often seems to slide under the radar. A bit like VET in that regard. Both tend to be swamped by the other two. Research clearly shows its importance and some progress has been achieved. However, problems still exist.

Like many areas funding is one of them. However, it is not the only one. The regard for teachers and other teaching assistants remains low. There is no simple answer for this. Funding places some limits on what can be done to improve the situation. It is a factor which is not only a problem in all education areas, but many others as well.

These only touch briefly on what lies in the future but they are areas which will remain contentious about how they are or are not solved. There will be rancour, gamesmanship, multiple stories and claims, in some cases outright untruths, thanks for particular improvements, upsets at financial restrictions, and more. The list could go on and on.

As someone once said - ‘We live in [interesting and] exciting times’. There is no doubt this is applicable to education in 2017. By working together in the best interests of all, not just some particular sector or group, the truly exciting times will prove to be when solutions are achieved and implemented, while the process of achieving this may be interesting but will fade out and be forgotten.

There are recently produced items that warrant at least a brief mention. See what you think about each and whether you agree or not. Follow each link that piques your particular interests.

Improving the transparency of higher education admissions
This is the Australian Government Response to the Report of the Higher Education Standards Panel investigation into higher education admissions processes. All recommendations were accepted. The report itself and the response to it will, hopefully, provide a workable solution for all the concerns that are regularly expressed.

Expenditure on education and training in Australia : Update and Analysis
‘The report is an annual update of Mitchell Institute’s analysis of Australia’s expenditure in education and training across the school, Vocational Education and Training and higher education sectors’. If you want to know actual figures, increases and/decreases and more covering all sectors, you could do much worse than this annual presentation.

Shared interest : a universal loan fee for HELP
Andrew Norton and Ittima Cherastidtham completed this report for the Grattan Institute. They believe ‘the fee would help to offset the government’s interest costs, while being fair to all students and preserving the loan program’s social goals’. See what you think of the idea.

Educational opportunity in Australia 2015 : …
Who succeeds and who misses out. Another report from The Mitchell Institute. As stated, ‘An enduring view of Australia is of a fair and egalitarian place in which opportunities exist for all to get ahead and succeed in building secure futures. Education is viewed as one of the main vehicles through which this happens. But to what extent is this true of modern Australia ?’

No mind left behind : …
Building an education system for a modern Australia. This report from The McKell Institute looks at changes in the nature of work and what that will mean for our education system and the students who will be affected by this. It also looks at the ‘growing disparity between high and low academic achievers’.

The value of international education to Australia
A Deloitte report for the Australian Department of Education and Training. It is designed to ‘assess the value of international education to the Australian community’ and covers a multitude of factors. It covers the impact at multiple educational levels and the impact of these on a range of areas within the Australian community.

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