Amid all the ‘Gonski noise’ about funding, Kevin Donnelly, director of the Melbourne-based Education Standards Institute, writes about the education process saying we need:

Greater Autonomy, Flexibility In Schools’ Decision-Making Needed

“Students perform better in schools that have autonomy in process and personnel decisions..

The fact that Catholic and independent schools, with a greater degree of autonomy conpared with government schools, achieve such strong academic results, even after adjusting for their students’ socio-economic background, illustrates the benefits of freeing schools from centralised bureaucratic control.” (Quality Teaching Will Fashion Far Better Outcomes – Weekend Australian Nov 30 – 1 Dec 2013)

Finnish Education Expert Parsi Sahlberg, when interviewed here in 2012 said:

” Finland’s approach to school autonomy emphasises trusting teachers and providing scope to design their own curriculum and teaching to meet the needs of students rather than financial management.”

So What Are Our Leaders Doing?

Kevin informs us that:

“While nodding in the direction of autonomy..(the) strategy to lift performance includes imposing a national curriculum, national teacher registration and certification, national standards for school leadership, national standardised testing, now extended to emotional and behavioural characteristics, and a raft of intrusive accountability requirements.

The new regime applies to every school in Australia..and is being imposed as a condition of funding.”

What’s To Be Done?

Kevin’s response:

“Contrary to the argument that governments and distant bureaucracies can dictate outcomes, schools, teachers and parents should be given greater control over education. The system should be one that embraces diversity, choice and autonomy within a flexible and responsive accountability regime.”

Let’s Listen To Educators

Stephen Elder, executive director of Catholic Education writes that Gonski’s reforms were about education not funding but politics got in the way. He says:

“Australian parents should be assured that education in this country is not broken and we have much to be proud of..

What makes Australian schools unique is our focus beyond merely the academic performance of a student to incorporate their physical, social, emotional, moral spiritual and overall wellbeing as intrinsic to positive educational outcomes..

How do we lift our education performance in all schools and in all communities?

The government must honour its commitment and engage in real policy reform, and the opposition must stop pretending its pre-election policy resembled what Gonski and his esteemed committee recommended.”(Weekend Australian Nov 30-1 Dec 2013)

They say democracy lurches along – education too?

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