15 October 2018

The Future of Schooling in Australia?

In August of 2018, the Association of Independent Schools for NSW released a commissioned report entitled; CEO Perspectives: The Future of Schooling in Australia.

The full report can be accessed here: https://www.aisnsw.edu.au/ceoperspectives/pages/default.aspx

With the current global economic uncertainty, the revolving door of leadership within Canberra, ongoing questions regarding school funding models, as well as a host of disruptive forces challenging the status quo within education, it is timely that we consider how these variables actually affect those at the centre of these conversations; our students.

The best teachers produce the most learning

Research from the Grattan Institute cited in this report confirms the need to have the highest quality teachers at our College, 'in Australia, a student with a teacher in the top 10 per cent of teachers in the country can achieve in half a year what a student with a bottom 10 per cent teacher achieves in a full year'.

It is for this reason that we must continue to invest in our current teachers to build their capacity and to develop their skills, yet we must do more. We must continue to attract the best teachers.

Forces of Change

The report alludes to three principals driving change globally as well as education, including automation, globalisation and the 'gig' economy. Again, the well-worn rhetoric of skills as the new commodity that all students must possess is touted. However, in experiencing schools across Australia and internationally this is significantly easier said than done.

The College's K-12 project of the Approaches to Learning is our response. Across our school we are explicitly identifying, teaching and assessing students on the skills these reports profess to requiring in unlocking future employability. Yet, we must be aware that this cannot be achieved in a vacuum void of content. Content provides a context in which to apply the skills. Rarely do we want to engage with an engineer that has excellent communication skills with a limited knowledge of Physics. The shift in the use of these types of skills can be seen in the graphic.

smart-learning.png

Balancing educational fads with researched priorities

At times sitting within a school attempting to keep across educational change is arduous, the balance between students' priorities, parent priorities and having a professional respect for the teachers who are at the point of delivery can be over complicated. What motivates us here at the College is the opportunities to experiment with change, whilst ensuring that we still deliver the base level of education that brings about personal success for our students.

Schools are changing, yet they are slow to change in many ways due to the systems they operate within. Our role as educators is to believe in the reasons why we educate and to ensure we remain agile enough to respond to the forces outlined in this report when needed.

Mr Peter Allen
Director of Teaching and Learning