aussie educator


Teachers have three loves : love of learning, love of learners, and the love of bringing the first two together. Scott Hayden

Stage 2 of the review and revision of the site has now been completed.

This has seen all pages, including archived pages, link checked and corrections made as required. We have not indicated changes on the archived pages, though. This process was time consuming but a worthwhile exercise. Does it mean every link is now accurate ? Regrettably, probably not. There were pages where, for a number of reasons we went back several times and links had changed again during this short time. We will be doing checks more regularly and fully than previously though and this should help improve the overall accuracy of the pages.

In addition, we have commenced the next step with initial work being done on a number of presentation aspects. Note, this will not mean glossy pictures, animations and transformations galore, … , with the possible exception of the home page . We remain serious in our desire to make content pages as small in size and simple to load as previously so you will probably not find serious structural changes.

Stage 3 will be done as quickly as possible. In saying this, time is still needed to ensure that not only the broad sweep of change is completed, but so are the small pieces which often create problems for both you and us. Racing to get finished is not what is required. It will also allow us to continue updating content such as Calendars, Conferences, Competition information, individual pages, etc., that in itself can be quite time consuming. Simply put, by taking the necessary time to ensure quality, we will be able to provide the best quality product for you to use as you need..

We look forward to finalising the product as soon as possible to the highest standard we can.

Money seems to be a major factor in numerous areas of education at the moment. In some cases this is to do with a suggested lack of it and/or the distribution of the allocated amount. In others, loss of funds through rorting has been the major headline commentary. Several areas are discussed below.

‘Gonski’ funding continues to generate headlines. As background, you might be interested in looking at Australian Government funding for schools explained, Money, schools and politics : some FAQs, What Gonski really meant, and how that’s been forgotten almost everywhere [Ken Boston] and also Gonski model was corrupted, but Labor and Coalition are both to blame. Ken Wiltshire, in a letter to an editor [The Australian] indicates It should be remembered Gonski did not mandate a six-year funding arrangement. He was also not in favour of the piecemeal approach which the previous Gillard Labour government pursued in such a panic and which is the real cause of the unfair and inconsistent distribution of funds across the nation. What Gonski did was calculate weightings for various forms of disadvantage and advantage, for students in different contexts including public and private schools. Yes, some Australian private schools are overfunded - here’s why and Gonski : Some private schools receive nearly three times the funding they are entitled to both suggested Birmingham’s facts were accurate.

Taking all this into account, you can then look at what has happened over recent weeks. Simon Birmingham was honest enough to lay out data about who was getting what and then saying some schools were getting more than they should. Immediately we were subjected to headlines such as “Liberals trigger storm over private school funding” with a response via “Government slams Labor school funds ‘bogeyman’”. Others also commented. David Leyonhjelm suggested we go back to the drawing board on funding; Why Simon Birmingham is wrong about school funding was written by Bronwyn Hinz; Jennifer Buckingham indicated “School funding should be without fear or favour”; Debate over private-school funding clouded by ideology; parents and others used commentary options to put a range of views e.g. The Age [29/9]

Others directed their attention to money already spent or to the differentiation between states in terms of achievement. Gonski makes student funding inequality worse, says Coalition was one heading, Feds warn of school funding gap blow-out another. The nation’s divide over school rankings suggests a two-speed education system, while Business calls for action on nation’s two-speed education divide linked with this idea.

Be aware, no conclusion or solution has been reached. As one paper indicated, Commonwealth v states : Gonski schoolyard fight is just getting started. While this is the case, perhaps more should be taking notice of the suggestion - Let’s meet in the middle on schools funding, not continue the trench warfare. Unless we do, no solution will ever be reached and students with genuine need will be the ones who suffer most.

Child Care is another area which is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Simon Birmingham had an opinion piece recently entitled Stamping out Daycare rorts and this was matched by SBS in an article indicating Family Day Care systematically rorting the system, says government. Other reports included Corruption In Family Day Care - Aussie Childcare Network; Trouble brewing for childcare; VET rorts ‘fed bogus childcare boom’; Slapstick tactics fed $1bn fraud, linked to No proof of children yet a daycare business operator is handed $1.6m ?; claims back and forth, e.g. Statement - Child Care Claims Plain Wrong; plus many more, often about the same examples included among the above.

Steps are being taken. Turnbull Government to boost powers of child care ‘compliance cops’ [Ministers’ Media Centre] is one avenue. However, there is a lot more to be done and this will not be a simple solution. From commentary, the system may need to be fixed and unified. With the amounts of money involved, it is essential that it is fixed so the problem is finally solved.

Vocational Education has been somewhat of a poor relation when compared to other educational areas. Changes to tertiary access meant many students went on to university instead of taking advantage of what had been a worthwhile educational process. The introduction of the VET FEE-HELP scheme, while well intentioned, proved a shambles and led to widespread rorting but a recent article was indicative that all was not well when suggesting we Run dodgy trainers off the rails. No more.

New VET Student Loans a win-win for students and taxpayers comes direct from Simon Birmingham. A Transcript of a Press Conference about this is found here. A Podcast of Simon Birmingham [with Michelle Grattan] on this topic is found here. Others have jumped in with articles such as Major changes to vocational student loans announced; Govt will hit the reset button on embattled VET sector; New VET loan scheme to exclude shonky providers; Bulldozers at the ready; Birmingham acts to end training rorts; Vocational education : An end to the country's largest get-rich-quick scheme; Government concedes that education is too important to be left to the market; and Call to claw back funds; .

The time lapse between the announcement and when the government introduced the bill has been really short. Between the two, we saw the release of a statement on a New VET Student Loans course list focussed on employment outcomes. The VET Student Loans Eligible Course List can be downloaded here. A related article, Vocational loans hit list revealed : jewellery making, fitness coaching to lose support addresses some of the changes indicated.

Counting down the dollars takes a look at the introduction of the bill and the reactions of others to what is involved. Not all are in agreement with every aspect. As High Wired indicates, “those pesky experts are already popping up with their criticisms and critiques”. Others had already done so as in New VET Student Loans unlikely to weed out dodgy private providers, TAFEs call for threshold standards though one does raise an interesting point with Nothing national in VET, though this was written prior to the actual announcement of the changes.

Interesting times are still ahead in this area, with the full implementation [one hopes it will be passed] of this scheme. Solving the remaining problems in this area will not be a quick fix though. To finally solve the difficulties that have been experienced will still take considerable time.

Higher Education has been a contentious area for some time and in many respects under both sides of government. Recently, Peter Noonan wrote about Why we need an independent authority to oversee tertiary education. He also wrote A new system for financing Australian tertiary education which is well worth reading. At the same time, others were asking Has the push to get more disadvantaged students into universities been a success ?. As indicated earlier, the role of the ATAR as an entry has come into question.

One thing that had been planned was consultation on a future plan for higher education. This has now moved a step further into the process with the appointment of an Expert panel to help take higher education reform from paper to policy which includes not only Peter Noonan, but also Michele Allan, Andrew Norton and Sally Walker. A second site detailing this is at Panel to assist in working up long-delayed changes for universities. Their task is to “work alongside him [Simon Birmingham] to take the more than 1 000 submissions made in response to the Driving Fairness, Innovation and Excellence in Australian Higher Education policy options paper from ‘paper to policy’. At least one group appears onside as Universities Australia welcomes advisory panel appointees and state ‘We look forward to working with them to ensure our higher education system delivers on the expectations of students, employers and the broader community’. Just don’t tempt vertigo also expresses a positive view of the panel, though High Wired does suggest “HW suspects there will not be sweeping changes to anything”.

Again, whatever happens will not happen overnight. The most important aspect will be to arrive at a position that is supported if not by everyone, then at least by the vast majority and which can be financially stable and able to achieve what all would want for the system and all those connected with it.

There are some items which warranted at least a brief mention. See what you think about each and whether you agree or not. Follow links that pique your interest.

  • Beyond PD : Teacher Professional Learning in High-Performing Systems ‘This report shows how British Columbia, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore improve teaching in schools. So, why is professional learning having a real impact in these systems ? What are the steps other systems can take to refine their improvement strategies ?’
  • ACER, in its Teacher magazine, presents the following article, entitled How to stop teachers leaving the profession. While it concentrates on the situation in Australia, it does refer to other countries as well. It is also planning to revisit this area in coming weeks.
  • As you can see above, Gonski and the “funding wars” have not dropped off the radar. Dean Ashenden has ‘offered a short guide to the terrain’ in Money, schools and politics : some FAQs in the Inside Story. 10 well presented sections that will be easy to remember. Some well thought out ideas.
  • Along related lines is an article by Chris Bonnor and Bernie Shepherd entitled Institutionalised Inequality. As they say, ‘With education ministers meeting this week to discuss school funding, a close look at the figures reveals large differences between states and sectors’ and proceeds to give glaring examples to back up what they say.
  • Recent Moves in International Higher Education Policy is an article from Higher Ed.ition, a newsletter from Universities Australia. As they say at the start, ‘Across the globe, a number of countries are reshaping their higher education policy and funding arrangements. In this piece, we provide an update on the state-of-play with those processes abroad’. It’s always good to have comparative information.
  • For those concerned with the balance between online and offline activities, you might be interested in Managing online time from the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner. It could help, especially if you need to work with parents. It includes videos, related articles and links to associated aspects such as cyberbullying.

Site Changes

See details above.

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

15 October 2016.

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