WHAT an amazing program the Ballarat Clarendon College King Island Year 9 camp is.The school spotted an opportunity a few years ago to give students a fantastic learning experience and grabbed it.
IN a twist worthy of an Agatha Christie novel, the man whose surname has become synonymous with Australian school funding reform now finds himself in a bizarre position.
As chair of the panel tasked with delivering the Review of Funding for Schooling, businessman David Gonski and his team recommended billions of dollars be injected into the system.
Exactly how federal, state and territory governments should go about raising that extra cash did not form part of the panel’s remit.
Gonski’s final report, delivered at the end of 2011, sparked passionate debate across government, independent and Catholic education sectors about what constitutes a fair model.
As the University of New South Wales chancellor, he now finds himself having to campaign for more financial support for the tertiary sector after the Federal Government announced plans to cut funding to universities by $2.3 billion in order to pay for the school reforms.
There’s no doubt that ramping up school spending by $14.5 billion is desperately needed, but there has to be a better way than cutting education funding so we can pump more money into education funding.
The decision has been called “one of the most bizarre announcements in recent times” by UNSW vice chancellor and chairman of the Group of Eight universities Fred Hilmer.
Professor Hilmer points out that it’s the universities who train teachers, and top teachers are what schools need to drive education reforms.
Teacher education courses are just one aspect of the strong role universities play in supporting school staff and students. There are countless university-school partnerships — from mentoring projects supporting Indigenous high school students, to outreach programs giving expert training to science teachers.
Of course, the proposed cuts to university funding will presumably only happen if Julia Gillard convinces her state and territory counterparts to sign up to the school funding model.
As I write this editorial, the PM is about to hold talks at COAG in the hope of reaching a deal.
Opposition Education Spokesman Chris Pyne has said if every state and territory does sign up, the coalition will not bin the reforms if it gets elected.
With the PM’s deadline pushed out to June 30, we could be in for more twists and turns yet.
SUPPORTING teachers and principals at all stages of their career is important, and this edition has some great examples of professional associations that are doing just that.
The Association of Retired Primary Principals operates networks across New South Wales, giving school leaders a chance to keep in regular touch with each other and policy affecting the education sector.
Retired principals still have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share, and it’s wonderful to see that expertise being put to use as they enter a new phase of their ‘career’.
At the other end of the scale, over in Queensland, the Beginning and Establishing Teachers’ Association is a welcome support for those about to graduate and those who are fresh to the classroom.
Those first few years in the job can be an overwhelming experience. The Productivity Commission’s most recent Schools Workforce reported highlighted common concerns that a significant number of teachers leave in the first few years after graduating and gaining employment.
BETA provides support and professional development for hundreds of teachers in their first three years of service, as well as pre-service teachers and those returning to the profession.
And, the Association of Independent Schools NSW Independent Schools Centre for Excellence internship and mentoring initiatives help out at both ends of the accreditation spectrum.
Its pre-service program helps new starters meet their graduate standards, and school partnerships support early career teachers and experienced educators wanting to take on a mentoring role.
CONGRATULATIONS to Sydney’s Auburn North Public School, which is proving to be a hub of learning for parents.
Its Harmony House program runs daily English, maths, health and wellbeing and computing lessons that attract an average of 100 parents each week.
This award-winning approach is also having a positive impact on student achievement. Well done to everyone involved.
ATM May, 2013: Vol 9 Issue 4
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ACADEMIC Stephen Dinham is right when he says we need to remind ourselves that there is much to be proud of in Australian education.Yes, the system does have its problems, and improving the skills of our educators and school leaders should be a priority, but the debate is in danger of being blown out of all proportion.
OUR Cover Story highlights the complexity of the debate around improving teacher quality by raising ATAR cut-offs for undergraduate teacher education courses.Although you won’t hear many people argue against raising the bar to ensure we attract the best candidates, looking at a high school graduate’s ATAR score in isolation is not the answer.
ONE of Australian Teacher Magazine’s most striking front covers of recent times warned of danger ahead as far as NAPLAN is concerned.The image of a road leading into a fierce storm in the distance accompanied our May 2012 Cover Story examining the pitfalls of high stakes testing.