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Motivation is in fact the most important result of student-engaged assessment. Unless students find reason and inspiration to care about learning and have hope that they can improve, excellence and high achievement will remain the domain of a select group. Ron Berger

With an election now called, it is time to view closely and sceptically what is actually being offered. In addition, the language used on many occasions needs to be very clearly understood, that is, what does it actually mean, not what you believe it to mean. Be prepared for plenty of occasions where fair, equity, equitable, investment, aspiration, fully funded, benefits, … are bandied about and be sure you know what these terms actually mean in the context where they are being used. As David Crowe sub-headed an article recently - Exaggerated claims and overblown rhetoric should be taken with a grain of salt. One needs to be wary of lies, damned lies and statistics [often attributed to either Mark Twain or Benjamin Disraeli].

This is not directed at any particular party or point of view but all groups, whether they be a large party or a single person standing for election. For example, you and I certainly wouldn’t be able to tell what is likely to be the case in three, four, five, ten or even more years, possibly not even less. One economist indicated recently, six months may be about the limit for some level of certainty. Many things are couched in these terms. At the same time you must look at the past, consider what has been done, and what the results of those actions have been and if they can be improved.

Most importantly, you simply need to be sure of what you are actually voting for and what the consequences are likely to be, whether positive or negative. Education, in that regard, is no different to any other area when promises are being made and the above factors will still apply. To provide a starting point, a range of links to information from multiple sources has been included for different areas. You are also urged to add others to these, gathering as much commentary and evidence as possible so your understanding of the various options is as good as possible.

Three starters for you include the following which cover several aspects. Does more money for schools improve educational outcomes ? [relevant in light of recent spending and falling standards]; FactCheck Q&A : does Australia have one of the most unequal education systems in the OECD ?; and a bit of a bolter, Voters want more money spent on education but if not, no problem.

Now you’re warmed up, on to school funding. The one certain thing is there will be more money. Start with The quality reforms needed to get all Australian students ahead is a government explanation of what they are doing. Federal election 2016 : what’s on the table for schools ?; Budget 2016 : Malcolm Turnbull to invest more in schools but fall short of Gonski promises; Federal budget 2016 : education experts react [multiple responses]; The Drum, Nick Greiner, Gonski funding [start about 6min. 20sec.. You may not have heard this description before, but maybe it’s not really just one plan]; Budget 2016 brings temporary solutions for schools, and puts more demands on students and teachers; Labor releases seat-by-seat school funding breakdown [I thought the states did this]; The existential dilemma facing Simon Birmingham includes some comparative views on both party’s positions; Shorten’s maths ‘misleading’ and Boosting education or cutting company tax : which will do more to boost the economy ? cover claim and counter claim about this aspect [other articles also exist on this topic].

Higher Education is on somewhat of a backburner in this election, though there are still the occasional cries of $100 000 degrees. Much of this was defused by the a Consultation on the future of higher education reform paper [open for comment till 25 July 2016]. Higher education in policy paralysis after Budget 2016 - what now ? flows on from the previous document. The end of the one-size-fits-all university : Turnbull government considers big fee shake-up was one response, Govt moves to adopt Watt reforms another.

Conversations included Rushed reform benefits no one in the end and Federal election 2016 : higher education policies to watch out for. One interesting article stated Budget 2016 : Students welcome plans to scrap uni fee deregulation policy. Other articles of interest were Dawkins overhaul ‘needs update’ which suggests that on the 25th anniversary those changes have become outdated and need ‘to be reset to reflect the sector’s changing landscape ’, and World insight : Australia defers HE funding reforms as loan debt mounts up [Warren Bebbington article in the Times Higher Education].

There is much more to come in this area, but it certainly seems to be taking a lesser position as this election rolls around. It will have its time in the spotlight though. Nothing is more certain.

As one of the oft forgotten areas till something goes wrong, Vocational Education has received a reasonable amount of space. Both parties looked at loan caps as part of a repair job on this area [see Coalition considers caps and ombudsman for student loan scheme (as well as an ombudsman) and Labor proposed VET FEE-HELP cap]. Peter Noonan went into more detail about potential changes, indicating only that Student loan caps must be part of total redesign of vocational funding system.

Allied with a range of other actions being taken, there could be a significant improvement whichever party forms government. This is essential when vocational education is still in uproar and reports indicate varying and often worrying positions for both TAFE systems and private groups. As Peter Noonan indicates, this is a problem based on a ‘declining public investment in VET and a dysfunctional VET financing system, which to date neither side of politics has been willing to address’.

Swamped by all the attention given to the areas above was an educational area which is amongst the biggest revenue earners for Australia. An International education strategy was recently launched. Said to be the first national strategy ‘it will focus on a number of areas including improving research and student experience, as well as looking to narrow the gap with international education heavyweights the US and the UK’. This is certainly an area to keep monitoring especially in this time of transition from the reliance on mining income.

Finally, some general sites which may cover areas not included above as well as those already listed : Election Watch 2016 launched; Federal Election 2016 [The West Australian] and Policy primers : what you need to know for Election 2016 [select Education from the listing]; and even Vote Compass - ABC for those who are unsure of where they might stand. All the best in being well informed and ready to go in relation to the education area at the coming election.

Other Areas of Interest

For those wanting to know how early learning is faring in Australia, you cannot be more up-to-date than by reading the State of Early Learning in Australia Report 2016. ‘This report will be the first in a series of reports to be published annually, tracking progress in a range of different early childhood education and care outcome measures’. Do not worry, it is easy to read and absorb the details. If this is an area of interest for you, you really should take the time.

What Educators Wish They Knew When They Began Teaching - Classroom Q&A with Larry Ferlazzo is an interesting first article of a series of three. While US in origin, it takes a practical approach which is applicable everywhere. The second and third presentations should prove fascinating with the third including many of the responses from other teachers. For new [and old] teachers it may provide a trigger for you.

A third document is one which at first may not seem an appropriate inclusion, but its pedigree cannot be faulted. Turning the Tide : Inspiring Concern For Others And The Common Good Through College Admissions is found on this Harvard site for the Making Caring Common Project. This page gives you the rationale and provides access to the Executive Summary, Full Report and a Press Release. Why not get more detail ?

Perhaps, nowadays, many people may not have heard of Paddy Manning. This has certainly not always been the case. In an article for The Drum, Rorts and blowouts ? the folly of public subsidies he gives a serve to both sides of politics in relation to Vocational Education. Easy to read, quotes, links to other material and straight to the point. Who could ask for anything more than that ?

Site Changes

The following pages have been completely updated : links, descriptors, exclusions, additions : Schools, Site Information, Competitions, Adult Education, Middle School, Early Childhood, Home Schooling and Education Technology pages. They can be accessed through the Curriculum, Education, Schools and Teachers links in the main menu. Other pages have also had link additions.

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

14 May 2016.

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