There’s no magic bullet towards excellence, it’s all cultural, and by building a culture within our schools where our kids feel pressured to do good work and be good people, we succeed. Ron Berger
Stage 1 of the review and revision of the site has now been completed.
Stage 1 will now be part of a three stage, rather than a two stage process. This has been brought about because of illness and other family factors, limitations on bandwidth to achieve what was originally sought, and time factors. Rather than delay what we had indicated we wanted to achieve, we have simply broken it into more parts and will provide updated material quicker than would otherwise have been possible.
While what has been achieved so far may not appear more than just some updating, this is definitely not the case. Much of the work has gone on ‘under the bonnet’ as the saying goes. Much work was undertaken regarding retention, archiving or removal of pages and/or information. Extensive information was collected and analysed. Having completed this, we then went on to the basic structures of the site to ensure that everything would still work and when you press links they actually take you to the right place. We ensured pages archived had this clearly indicated and, when part of paired pages, the other page did as well. Redirects were provided for all newly archived pages, while removed pages were covered by ‘regret’ pages indicating this.
In addition, the main menu has been adjusted to cover such changes, all internal links have been checked, sectional home pages adjusted to reflect the above changes, as well as other minor modifications as required.
While the above changes have occurred, we have concentrated on bringing as many pages as possible up to date. To this end we have link checked and updated all pages in the following folders - Calendar, Conferences, Education, Schools, Site Information, Teachers and Tertiary [including newly archived pages in these]. Additional items include Competitions, Study Skills, Curriculum and Subject Areas pages, a total revamp of the Vocational Education page, while the basis of new pages for Design and Technologies and Digital Technologies have been started. A new page covering commonly used acronyms for education groups, departments, positions, programs, etc., has begun. A significant compilation is now complete and ready to transfer to a page for uploading.
If you check some of these pages [especially in the Education section] you will see there have been some significant changes for several states and territories. This has created a significant impact on the speed with which we were able to update everything.
Stage 2 will be done as quickly as possible. This will cover pages in the remaining folders - Curriculum [remaining pages], reference, Resources, Special Pages. They will be completed as soon as possible. This will then lead in to Stage 3. It also includes inclusion of links collected by us over recent times.
Stage 3 will see some presentational changes to the site. In doing so, we will still be concentrating on the need for minimising the size of pages thus ensuring demands on bandwidth usage are as small as possible. There will be changes to the front page, the heading area of pages and probably to overall colour schemes. A number of processes are listed for consideration.
As we indicated when flagging changes, we have worked to prioritise our capacity to maintain the site at a level that provides quality information over an ongoing period of time. In setting up the stages, this was taken into account. Stage 1 is definitely what we perceive as the most important. Stage 2 can be seen to be valuable but there is a much wider range of sites available available as alternatives. Stage 3 is seen as the least important of the three, even though in some ways, it is the most interesting when presenting a new, visual presentation. We thank you once again for bearing with us over this period and hope you will continue to do so during the next two stages.
While this has been occurring, life in education has continued, even though overshadowed by other national events. Some things related directly to earlier educational happenings, while some simply supplemented them. The most obvious was the Productivity Commission’s draft report entitled - Education Evidence Base. A Media Release, headlined Governments need to lift the bonnet on Australia’s schools, is found on the above page along with copies of the report as is a summary of the key points and an infographic.
The main thrust of the draft appears to be that funding alone does not achieve what we want and that other factors are also important. Among the key points are : Notwithstanding substantial increases in expenditure on education over the past decade, national and international assessments of student achievement in Australia show little improvement and in some areas standards of achievement have dropped; present activities must be complemented by the use of data and evidence to identify, and then apply, the most effective programs, policies and teaching practices and Australian, state and territory governments must take a shared and cooperative approach to developing a high-quality and relevant Australian education evidence base.
Meanwhile others had their say. $10 billion in funding fails to lift students was written by Stefanie Balogh for The Australian. Chris Smith talked to Kevin Donnelly on radio. Several places provide the opportunity for you to make comments. These include the Productivity Commission site - till Friday 7 October 2016 and also the Australian Primary Principals Association [media release as well].
Save Our Schools went back to quote Ken Boston about Political Failure on Gonski. Some of these comments were repeated as part of The Australian article. It was really interesting to hear one of the original committee as particularly scathing of the secret deals negotiated with Premiers, bishops and private school organisations by the Labor Government in the lead up to the 2013 election. These side deals were also criticised recently by the Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia, Jennifer Westacott, who said that they should be phased out. Further detail on Ken Boston’s comments can be found in his speech at this link
Quite a different approach was taken by Jennifer Buckingham, in an article for CIS headlined New report highlights need for education based on what works. One major fact she indicates is the report fails to adequately address the main problem with the evidence base in education : it is largely ignored by the education establishment and goes on to say why she believes this is the case. You may agree or disagree with any of these points of view. Why not read the report and then take the opportunity to make a submission. There is still time !
Another major happening was a call by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia for a comprehensive national review of vocational education. There were several reports related to this including CEDA review : What Australians need to learn, and why [The Australian]; Think tank calls for vocational review [News.com.au]; New report says VET needs urgent review [AEU]; and VET has suffered 'significant reputational damage', says CEDA chief executive [ABC].
There is a lot of commentary as you can see. At the same time there seems to be a silence from the powers that be and one hopes this will change. Access an overview, the report, the media release for it, video of a panel discussion about the topic and more on the VET skills for growth page. They make the clear point they seek to assess the current outcomes of the sector and propose ways the VET system could be improved in order to meet the skills Australia will require for growth.
There are some items which warranted at least a brief mention. See what you think about each and whether you agree or not. Simply follow links that take your interest.
- Teaching in 2030 : what happens next in the story of higher education is an interesting article from Alan Finkel in the Higher Education Newsletter. This is an edited version but still well worth reading.
- What will school education look like by 2020 ? [The Conversation] looks at a different sector. Easy to follow information on a number of aspects.
- The Future of Education follows a similar theme and was the recent Australian Davos Connection Forum Address by Jennifer Westacott. It covers all areas and is also easy to read.
- The latest Student Experience Survey National Report, which ‘is the only comprehensive survey of current higher education students in Australia’ can be found here. The six indicators from the SES each show the percentage of students satisfied with various aspect of their higher education experience. Makes for interesting reading based on first-hand experience and belief.
- Remember all those lectures you sat through ? Some were boring. Some allowed you to catch upon other things. Some were even interesting. Tech entrepreneur Ben Nelson heralds last hurrah for uni lecture posits a time when they will not exist [among many other things]. An interesting article. While not necessarily for the same reasons he may actually get some agreement from some higher educators in Australia.
- Finally, Jim McMorrow in The Precarious State of Schools Funding in Australia following the 2016 Federal Election begins his final paragraph with the words This is an insecure and potentially volatile situation for schools. It reflects a range of concerns he expands on throughout the document.
See details above.
Updates have been added to the following pages : Calendar, Conferences, Journals.
15 September 2016.