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Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it’s the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardising in the way we educate our children and ourselves. Ken Robinson

A new government, [well almost], and new ministers in the Education portfolio. Simon Birmingham moves from Assistant Minister to Minister. Luke Hartsuyker becomes Minister for Vocational Education and Skills. International Education is covered by Richard Colbeck. Christopher Pyne still has some connection through his oversight of Science.

Early comments from Simon Birmingham suggest a more conciliatory, consultative approach than previously. With the release of the Opposition Education Policy, the challenge has certainly been issued in relation to higher education. For links relating to this policy see the Other Areas of Interest below.

One area that appears to be receiving more attention is that of vocational education and its related skills. Luke Hartsuyker, one of the new Ministers actually has this title and there has been continued discussion as to whether the federal government should take complete control of the area.

Jay Weatherill recently continued what is not a new call for this to occur, in line with several other potential changes in education. Peter Noonan recently asked Should the federal government take over vocational training ?. Indeed, there are some reports the federal government would push for a vocational education takeover, echoing a similar move by Paul Keating back in 1990. Some, such as this, indicate it may be high on the agenda. Certainly federal and state leaders have agreed to look at this possibility. The recent National Reform Summit called “for major improvements to the vocational education system”

Not everyone is pleased at the prospect though. In the light of recent cuts in other areas; the opening up of vocational education to private providers; significant concerns about some providers and their level of ethics [see this article including the infographic]; and a sizeable decline in apprenticeships and traineeships, there may be some justification for such concerns.

Meanwhile, Vocational education funding drops 8%. The argument about who is right or wrong in what they do, i.e. the blame game, public TAFEs versus private colleges, people ripping off the system, etc., will undoubtedly continue until a final decision is made.

As indicated, not everyone is in favour [e.g. Pat Forward AEU TAFE secretary]. This especially applies in relation to publicly run TAFE systems. ‘Labor vocational education spokeswoman Sharon Bird said she was “pretty sceptical” about the idea’.

Only time will tell if such a change will occur. Perhaps reading something such as Australia’s VET system needs fundamental change - here’s how it can be fixed, that addresses issues rather than point scoring, pointless statements and so on may be the answer and a step in the right direction. At the end of the day, what everyone should want is a system that is well structured, fulfils the requirements of users and the nation, uses adequate funding wisely and does away with a wastage of time arguing about who should or should not have done, or even just done differently. Wouldn’t that be a positive change ?

Other Areas of Interest

The world learns a lesson that technology in schools doesn’t improve education is an interesting article providing commentary on a recent OECD report entitled Students, Computers and Learning - Making the Connection. In the commentary, there are excerpts which give cause for concern when you consider the steps Australia took to increase access to computers for students. Read them and see what you think.

Pushing the big red reset button is only one of the reports about the new Higher Education Policy from the Opposition. Another is found here. Timing is, of course, everything, but there are some interesting propositions being put forward. Where to now for the government ?

Evidence for success of independent public schools is flawed is a recent commentary by Scott Eacott for The Conversation. Australia has been one of the leaders in the field of school autonomy. The trouble is that “autonomy” can and does have multiple meanings and implementations both here and overseas. For a Factcheck review of the situation [including overseas] see a relevant document here.

In late August, the Foundation for Young Australians issued a report entitled The New Work Order sub-titled - Ensuring young Australians have skills and experience for the jobs of the future, not the past. Very timely when taking into account future skill requirements and the fact that jobs that will be required in the future probably do not exist today. Another article, catchily titled, also on the same general topic and worth looking at is The robots are coming for your job! ! Why digital literacy is so important for the jobs of the future.

Site Changes

The following pages have been completely updated : links, descriptors, exclusions, additions : The remaining pages from Specific Areas [Education]. They can be accessed via the Education link in the menu.

Updates have been added to the following pages : Calendar, Conferences, Journals.

23 September 2015.

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