The Future of Education conversation
Since February 2017 we have been talking to the community about what you want for the future of schools and education in the ACT.
We have heard from over 4,500 individuals - from school communities, parents and carers, teachers, students, community organisations and the broader community.
Over time, a number of themes started to emerge from what you were telling us, we then asked you to comment in a bit more detail on these themes. You can read more about the themes under the ‘Themes’ tab.
We’re now focusing on testing the feedback with the community and using all of your feedback to develop the basis for a strategy for the Future of Education.
We will be consulting with key stakeholders and representatives through the development of the strategy. If you would like to be involved in this process, please register your interest by contacting the Future of Education team via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ten themes emerged from the feedback we've heard from you, these are outlined below. You can download a full summary of the themes here: Themes Summary
Learning for the future
Research indicates and business leaders believe that the workplaces of the future will be a lot different to those of today (and indeed, those of 20 years ago). Many of you told us that students need to be learning the skills that will be necessary in the workplaces of tomorrow. You told us that skills like critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability, resilience, cultural literacy and relationship building as well as both financial and digital literacy were key skills for the future.
Many theorists and educators predict, and your feedback agreed, that it will become less important for students to learn content or knowledge, and more important for them to develop the skills to acquire and interpret knowledge.
“Schools should be teaching creativity and innovation... problem solving and creative thinking. The rote learning approach is not going to assist our children to be prepared for a complex and constantly changing future.” – Parent.
Starting and changing school can be a challenging and exciting time for students and families. The transition between schools sees students having to adjust to new roles, identities, expectations and relationships.
You told us that you would like more support and programs for students to help ease their transitions, (including from early childhood to primary school, primary to high school, high school to college and from college to work, training or university).
“There are like three different systems, we need some form of consistency.”- Student.
Many teachers and students have told us that there should be more individualised and tailored learning options- things like more extended classes for gifted students and more support for students who are struggling. Many of you want our school system to allow students to learn in a way that is centred on their individual skills and interests so that they develop a love of learning and remain engaged in their schooling.
There were also a number of comments about how students currently move through school based on their age, rather than their skill level or development.
“Learning should be tailored to individual needs so that every student can get a good education - there are different types of learning, we need to bring them all together. We need to ensure that everyone’s abilities can be expanded and supported.”- Student.
(In)consistency between schools
We have received feedback about the differences
between schools across Canberra.
The differences span across a number of areas, including what is taught,
how each school links with community organisations and the broader community and
how each school uses data. The feedback raised questions about whether there
are enough frameworks and accountability systems in place to balance the
autonomy that has been given to individual Principals and schools.
“School autonomy must be supported by effective central policy making, oversight, evidence based advice and timely support.” - Schools for All report.
Real life skills
Feedback has clearly told us that as well as academic skills, you
want students to be learning skills around emotional and social wellbeing and
real life skills. This aligns with the research which has shown very strong
links between emotional wellbeing and academic performance.
“We want to have learnt life and social skills, like how to deal with relationships, how to be a good person and to have learnt things that will help in later life.”- Student.
Opportunities and pathways for all
You have told us that we need a broader range of alternative
programs to meet the diverse needs of our students, particularly those in the
‘margins’ or who are falling behind. You also told us that we need to focus
less on university/academia as THE pathway after school and to develop more
options that are relevant and suitable to a broad range of needs.
“Make a special program to support kids with special needs if someone is falling behind.” – Student.
“We are always taught that the pathway is college-university- job. More career vocation for students would be great...there are other pathways.” –Student.
What we should be measuring and evaluating
The feedback clearly shows that parents’ highest priority is that
their children are happy, engaged and learning how to learn. Many respondents
questioned the way we use assessment data and expressed a view that it does not
actually identify individual students’ progress and that it doesn’t help
identify students who are slowly and gradually falling behind.
“How are we measuring a whole year of learning? One test at the end doesn’t show that - it just shows who crams best.”- Student.
Collaboration and support to meet student need
A lot of feedback discussed the need for a whole
of community approach to meeting the increasingly complex needs of many of our students
and their families. You mentioned a need for stronger partnerships with and
between ACT Government services as well as between schools and community
“We need a holistic approach- whole child, wrap around services, coordination- all Directorates working together to create schools as community hubs,” - Workforce.
We have received overwhelmingly positive comments about our
teachers, including that teachers are undervalued in our community. Students told us that it’s their teachers who
make them feel included or engaged in school.
Many also mentioned the need for ongoing support for teachers, including professional development, collaboration, and training about how to understand and work with complex behaviours, trauma and the effects of disadvantage.
“I do way better in classes with teachers that I bond with, who let me learn the things I’m interested in.” – Student.
What is Inclusion?
You’ve said to us that diversity in the student population should
be seen as the norm, and as a strength rather than being looked at through a
lens of deficit.
Some parents said they’d like students living with a disability to be viewed on an abilities continuum, and for schools to be a place where a disability would be the last thing that was noticed about a student, rather than one of the first.
A number of parents and other community members suggested that the Directorate should articulate what is meant by inclusion and set out a policy goal for public schools.
“Everyone needs to feel included.” – Student.
The Future of Education in the ACT
We are proud of our education system. We are a high performing jurisdiction when it comes to educational outcomes and our schools have set generations of students up for great lives. We have a great network of teachers and staff dedicated to ensuring that our young people get the most out of school.
High performing education systems have a key thing in common: they make explicit their focus on equity. The life circumstances and background of a child showing up to school cannot be allowed to determine whether they will succeed or not.
We must also acknowledge that some young people require different levels of support to achieve the same outcomes. It’s not about everyone getting the same; it’s about everyone getting what they need.
So the key question is around the best ways to pursue equity.
Improving an education system is a never-ending process, and is informed by listening to our community. We invite you to share your experiences, insights and ideas about how we can build on the strengths of our system and tackle some emerging challenges. This isn’t just about the big things that are or are not working. It’s also about small changes that can improve the school experience.
So far the Future of Education conversation has included over 4,500 individuals – including our students, parents, teachers, principals and key stakeholder groups. We’ve heard from you about how we can make our education system even better and ensure every student leaves school ready for the 21st century and ready to be happy and successful adults.
Tell us what you think
We will be running a series of workshops in coming months as we take your feedback and develop the strategy.
If you would like to be involved in these sessions, please register your interest by contacting the Future of Education team via email@example.com.
View the discussion board below and read what some people have already told us.
21 April, 2018
“The collaboration between Health and Education department staff to deliver the Fresh tastes program to schools is great. Now, it must be fine-tuned so that it provides every school with the caring mindset, content and resources to guarantee students learn how to meet their complete nutritional needs especially when from low-income families. This guarantee needs to extend even to students who avoid meat, as many do on the basis of cost, in particular girls. A food or community garden in or near every school could go a long way towards supporting good nutrition as well as future life skills, with support given so that teachers don't have to try maintain it themselves, and so that the whole school and community values it. The key here is that it is something every school - and every child - has a right to learn how to do and benefit from, not just some. ”
10 March, 2018
“I think the ACT government needs to ensure that parental choice of schooling is a priority. You do many projects (eg the chromebooks for public schools) which exclude the non-government school sector where many families send their children. This effective bias towards monopoly one-choice schooling particularly affects poorer/low-income families who should be able to access schooling of their choice. You should provide scholarships for low income families to attend non-government schools if they wish - not everyone is happy with a secular schooling for their children and low-income parents have no options.”
1 March, 2018
“After having to remove two of my children from the ACT school system last year and home school due to many many issues including injury the supports services (departments) really need a wake up call on dealing with issues, I phoned departments on many occasions, tried to work with the school who had excuse after excuse, and no action. A whole year of learning wasted the LSU was non existent, the individualised plans all but forgotten, yet they were happy to be funded and have my child sent home early. I complained to multiple departments and so on, and again after removing them to be given excuses and lack of responsibilities. Schools and management need to be held accountable for what happens to their students, every child in Australia should be entitled to an education and our school system is not meeting the basics let alone developing each child as an individual.”
2 February, 2018
“The discussion of school hours is a debate that needs to be had. Schools should be open from 08:00 to 17:00 to accommodate pupils. Academic teaching obviously cannot be extended to this extended time but the opportunity for extra curricula activities would be immense (sports, arts, IT clubs, language clubs). This also gives the opportunity to to serve healthy breakfast and lunches. This change would provide immense support to working families. This doesn't have to mean longer teaching time for teachers but provides opportunities for additional educators to be employed.”
10 January, 2018
“More support to students with the issues they are dealing with outside of school that create barriers to participation and learning. This support should be provided in the community service sector, working closely with schools. See this article for a teachers perspective http://www.smh.com.au/comment/the-secret-to-better-school-results-is-outside-the-classroom-20180103-h0d69e.html”
3 January, 2018
“Given the multiple benefits of proficiency in more than one language, failing to actively encourage and support the continued development of bilingual skills in CALD students both militates against equity and ignores potentially valuable skills. It can also have detrimental effects on family relationships, identity development and mental health. These are all related to ‘wellbeing’, an aspect which has been linked in the ‘Real Life Skills’ Theme to academic achievement. Recognising the language and cultural strengths of all students can also help to engage them and their families in the learning process. In light of the above, planning for the future of education in the ACT – to ensure both equity and excellence – should include how to better incorporate language learning across the curriculum. Language education should be considered in a holistic way, seeking synergies between English language programs, home language support, and an additional language for all. As the ACT Language Policy ‘Many Voices’ notes, Canberra is a multilingual city, and “the maintenance and development of first, second and subsequent languages is essential.” ”
3 January, 2018
“A greater focus on language learning would increase the quality of education in the ACT. Language learning has been shown to have a central role in developing the skills needed for life and work in the 21st century, including critical thinking, problem solving, adaptability, creativity, collaboration, cultural literacy and relationship building. “Learning languages broadens students’ horizons in relation to the personal, social, cultural and employment opportunities that an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world presents. … Despite its status as a world language, a capability in English only is no longer sufficient. A bilingual or plurilingual capability is the norm in most parts of the world.” (Australian Curriculum: Languages). A greater focus on languages is also needed to ensure equity. Skills in other languages students bring with them to school are not always fully valued and built on. Encouraging learners to maintain home language and literacy practices can assist with acquiring proficiency in English. This is noted in the ACT Government Education and Training pamphlet 5: ‘Bilingualism and Multilingualism: English as an Additional Language or Dialect Education’, together with the need for “targeted and specialised English language instruction”. Without this dual approach, students “may only develop limited competency in both languages”. ”
28 December, 2017
“I think one of the most important things that they should start teaching in schools is self-defence for girls (but not for boys, because this would defeat the purpose). If girls know how to protect themselves better than we might see a decrease in the number of cases of violence against women. I have also studied a few languages over the course of my schooling but my language learning only started to improve after I had taken a basic linguistics course at university. I think students might learn languages better if they were given a few basic linguistic classes first so that they understand how languages work before they begin to study one. Giving students flashcard sets as part of the curriculum might also help, as it would build up a student’s vocabulary quicker. It is also important that they start teaching students basic life skills like how to fill in and understand a tax form (as well as other government forms), how to manage their finances and maybe also teach the basics of running a small business. ”
22 December, 2017
“Absent this discussion is the consideration of the environment of our pupils whom we intend to educate. The discussion must be economic, social and progressive. The millennial arrives at school with an alien world view. Their world does not have our familiar, expected inputs to education. Kids are stressed in a way most adults cannot fathom. Most adults with jobs and houses fail to appreciate the disjunction between educational outcomes and the world of the millennial. The rationale for a sound education does not relieve any child of the confrontational mess that is the future the past bequeathed them. Without wanting to pen the whole diatribe myself, I have looked afield for other authors who also have made the link. I find none. There are, however, commentators writing about the new world created by the mistake & misadventure of unbounded capitalism proceeding ignorant of social cost. An exemplar, http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/poor-millennials/ A singular quotation justifies its inclusion here, 'And so the real reason millennials can’t seem to achieve the adulthood our parents envisioned for us is that we’re trying to succeed within a system that no longer makes any sense.' Rethink!”
15 December, 2017
“The ACT needs to move towards a more working-family-friendly preschool system. The latest ABS statistics show that across Australia, 64% of families have both parents working - so why does the ACT still have a preschool system that operates on school hours? Families need longer hours - so either start funding preschool programs in long day care centres (that is, long day care services receive state funding to employ an early childhood teacher, e.g. as Victoria does so successfully) or make sure that every preschool on a school site can provide wrap around care (before 9am and after 3pm) for the children of parents who are working (I would suggest, even more than 64% of families in the ACT are in this position). The current preschool system in the ACT is completely out-dated and does not reflect the needs of the ACT community.”
7 December, 2017
“It’s time ACT Education supported all students with their literacy learning by identifying early those at risk of reading failure and by implementing evidence-based instruction and interventions. Which means throwing away ineffective programs, such as Reading Recovery or other non-evidence based approaches and implementing pedagogy and intervention programs based on the Big 6 of reading where the phonics component is systematic synthetic phonics. Explicit instruction has been proven through research and evidence to be the most effective way to teach students to read. Recent results in the UK , show improvements since implementing the Phonics Check Screen and training teachers and implementing systematic synthetic phonics . A quality education empowers students throughout their lives. If a student cannot read then they cannot fully participate in any other aspect of their learning. Reading is an essential life skill. As demonstrated in the recent publication of PIRLS 2016, 19% of Australian Year 4 students still struggle with literacy using current literacy approaches. If a student is still struggling in Year 4 then that is cause for alarm, as the opportunity to close the gap has been substantially diminished. Many children are still slipping through the literacy gaps, it’s time to act now. ”
4 December, 2017
“I think we need to stop focusing on results of tests of how a school performs and spend more time helping kids come out of school with the skills that will actually help them to add to society but also give them confidence. Does naplan really benefit any child? I know for a fact that low results does not equal support of any kind. I still have to fight for any kind of support. So why make them go through something that doesn’t actually lead to any assistance?”
4 December, 2017
“There are some wonderful aspects to our education system, great teachers, great facilities etc but there has to be an acknowledgement that it does not work for everyone. There needs to be a variety of alternative education options that cater for a diverse range of young people with an equally diverse range of issue, mental health, behavioral, caring commitments etc. These options don't have to have to be run by the department of of education, in fact probably shouldn't be but should have meaningful curriculum's. There should also be more investment in pastoral care in schools and a review of the Youth Support Workers in High school's Program. There should be an investment in not only appropriate counselling services within schools. There need to be far less emphasis on counselors having teaching qualifications and a focus on having the counselling skills required to support Young People with complex issues. There need to be stronger links between schools and other services in the community and a greater emphasis on partnerships, school's should not be impenetrable ivory towers they should embrace opportunities to work with other services. That said there should be some vigor around the evaluation of these partnership. ”
1 December, 2017
“Our secondary colleges and our senior secondary system are outstanding assets for the ACT. On this we agree with myshkasherman's post of 13 October to the future of education forum. As the national capital, though, the ACT should be doing better than it is in completion of studies by students in languages to Year 12 level. It is not mentioned in Discussion Paper One or in the overview of the ten themes from the consultation so far. We will forward a submission to the email contact address.”
29 November, 2017
“Examining the latest data available from ACECQA (NQS Snapshot Q3 2017) it is concerning that the ACT has the highest percentage of long day care services who are not meeting the National Quality Standard, compared with all other states and territories. There is also a marked disparity between the quality ratings of preschool services compared with long day care services. As the ACT has such a high percentage of families with two parents working and requiring long hours of care for their children, these results are particularly worrying, specifically in relation to 'access' to QUALITY services in the ACT. In other words, children under preschool age who are accessing care and education services in the ACT are more likely than in any other state or territory, to be accessing lower quality services. There are also particular areas of the ACT where there are few services with an 'Exceeding' rating - creating inequality of access to quality services in the ACT.”
22 November, 2017
“Introduce an enriched academic program for every school. Students only need to pass an exam once during primary school and have satisfactory performance to stay in the program. Currently, students in an enriched academic program in primary school generally must sit another test if they want to continue to be in a gifted and talented stream.”
20 November, 2017
“I have done my bachelor of education in Primary Studies and chose not to move into my teaching for multiple reasons, I found it hard to imagine a school applying a no bullying policy when you can see it happening amongst teachers, I believe we need to be offering 'How to Live' classes, classes that are just as important as english/maths/science, where students are being taught about their emotions and how to better cope/deal with challenges they face, that can be applied while still at school and after leaving. Each and every one of us, child or adult is unique and have a different story, but if students were being given these practical skills, we could start to change mental health statistics in our country, whether that be a combination of meditation/yoga/or discussions and theory on learning how to understand and listen to your own emotions, compassion, healthy boundary setting, we are giving them tools that will not only empower the individual, but they can use for the rest of their life. Not to mention enhance community and compassion within the school itself.”
11 November, 2017
“We moved our son to another primary school due to violence and bullying. Five families moved their children for the same reason. In our son’s case, he had been attacked on multiple occasions and on one occasion, so violently choked that he thought he would die; he was left with bruising on his neck. The principle’s response was to use ‘restorative justice principles’: bringing victim and perpetrator together and asking them to describe their roles in the situation; further traumatising our son. We arranged to discuss the issue with the principle (no one initiated contact with us). She stated that my son could be annoying and that was why the other boy was behaving this way. I explained that annoying behaviour was not the issue needing to be addressed at the moment, that it is not illegal to be annoying; rather, it was the violent attacks from the other boy, and, that it is illegal to assault others. She kept stating that my son could be annoying. Violent men who blame their victims for provoking them are no longer tolerated yet that was the attitude of the principle.”
9 November, 2017
“There is no opportunity for bright students to excel - for example selective schools are free and public in NSW, decoupling socioeconomic status and education outcomes. There seems to be a focus on average rather than individual excellence (on all levels and in all ways). Also, teachers should be better informed about different modes of thinking and relating to the world, smart but non-conformist thinkers seem to have a mould applied to them early on, rather than encouraged to learn in ways that make sense to them (stop calling it autism requiring a diagnosis!). There is too little focus on bilingual education and limited choices of languages - children should have an option of learning in their 'mother tongue' and should have an opportunity to learn at least one Australian language (Western Desert for example provides a basis for Yulparija Manjtjiltjara Pintupi Luritja Pitjantjatjara etc). Ngunawal should also be the norm for the national anthem and other formal events in schools. There should also be a ride to school program (with posted segments reviewed by parent volunteers) to make active travel safer and incidental to the daily commute. ”
9 November, 2017
“ Schools should have special programs, extra incentives and funds for gifted students who are willing to engage in sustained and profound learning (I feel that at the moment much more attention, time and money is being invested for the lowest level students that for the highest level students). Students should be grouped in classes according to abilities and not only according to their biological age. All High School and Colleges should have extensive sport and fitness facilities and professional specialized programs so ALL students can participate in physical education and fitness programs that will help them improve their health, fitness and cognitive abilities. These are my own ideas based on my own education and teaching and learning experience on three continents. ”
9 November, 2017
“Starting with High School there should be less compulsory disciplines (English, Maths and General Science) and a wide variety of elective courses so students can choose subjects that they like and have a call for to maximize their participation and achievement. Learning should be equally accessible in many ways and not mostly through reading and listening that are currently dominating the education system; equal attention should be paid to trades, arts, sports, and so on. As Albert Einstein bluntly said it "You can not judge a fish by his ability to ride a bicycle". School should offer an education that is much more adaptive and dynamic, incorporating ICT, social media and much more learning time outside the school walls through educational trips and projects to government branches,out in the nature, factories, institutes, universities, recreational and athletic places, etc. Australian students should have the opportunity to travel abroad for extended periods of time to improve their education and understand the world around them; governments and education departments should create, develop, encourage and support this kind of international learning programs. If properly organized, the costs would not exceed the domestic educational costs by much. ”
9 November, 2017
“instead of focusing on knowledge and skills that would help them achieve a quality education. Currently the general engagement of students in school based learning is tepid. What works? I believe that Australia has some the best school facilities and funding compared with any other nation in the world. Australia has some of the best teachers in the world that are highly regarded and sought after by international schools all over the world. Australian education, the same as the society, shows a wonderful multiculturalism. Teachers, students with different cultural and national backgrounds can all contribute in many ways for better outcomes for all. What should be improved? The general public needs to understand that a quality education is the only way for Australia to move on from a natural resources based economy to a higher level of economic sustainability and progress. There should be negative consequences for students when they disregard and disrespect the school education. For example students should be required to repeat a grade and in case that they fail because they do not put in effort, and if they fail again they should be asked to attend a special school for students with a poor attitude. ”
9 November, 2017
“ Even with one of the best education systems in the world, in a country where virtually everyone can afford and receives support to learn, Australia still experiences a dire shortage of skilled professionals in key fields: medical, scientific, engineering and education. There are simply not enough students and people who want and are able to engage in sustained learning to become qualified professionals. Most people will settle for a simple but well paid job that does not require extensive high-level learning and too many people are looking up to the government to provide them with basic living necesities without putting in effort to provide for themselves. The status and role of education within the Australian society is not elevated enough. Many people do not place a high value on formal education so consequently offer little support for their children when they are attending school. At school level, especially primary and high school, there is a lack of negative consequences for the students that invest little or no effort towards learning. Every student is promoted to the next level, irrespective of their behavior or learning outcomes. Australian students waste a great portion of their school and learning time engaging in trivialities, ”
2 November, 2017
“It is well known that children are less motivated to do school work are often face more distractions on holidays, weekends and breaks. That is stopping them from being distracted is something we cannot change and we shouldn’t force students to do that sense that’s their time to go to part time jobs and be with family and friends so instead we should use more in class assignments were they are the most motivated and have access to reliable help and knowledge. This is realistic sense most of the work you job has you do is at the workplace and not at home unless it’s unfinished paperwork. So by having most if not all assignment being in class we are assured that the students are giving for to the assignment then those with at home assignments giving a better sense of a student’s knowledge and skills.”
2 November, 2017
“In my experience in primary school I had a Japanese teach who I will not name, it was obvious she could not understand that I had trouble with understanding who class or refused to let me go outside when the class was being too loud and obnoxious and I need to calm down because of my autism. That is why I wish to have teachers be taught in all levels about different disabilities, how to spot them and what to do or what not to do ad tell be able to tell if a kid needs to get out of class because of their condition or they just want to get out of class to fool around. And the way I think we can do this is to have a class once a week for college students to train how to spot certain disabilities and the do’s and don’ts of teaching them and it should be mandatory for them to at most go to the class once a fortnight because no matter where you go to teach here in Australia you should know at least how to spot the common disabilities and what to and not to do”
24 October, 2017
“I'm currently completing year 12 and personally, I think our current system works well, for college that is. I recently wrote an essay about the National Assessment Programme - Literature And Numeracy (NAPLAN) on how it works and why we need it. NAPLAN is vital to improving the ACT's education system for individuals and the same goes for the rest of the nation. After doing some research, I discovered that the ACT has the best overall scores in most areas in years 3-7. if there are some areas that still need to be improved, then NAPLAN is the best indicator for as to why individual students are not meeting the national standards. Obviously, college students don't have to go through NAPLAN again but it is used to determine whether or not we are able to handle tertiary subjects before the start of year 11. That is the only time I remember our NAPLAN results actually being used for our education. ”
20 October, 2017
“As a new educator, I believe passionately that the Single Class-Single Teacher model of teaching does not work well enough. I look around and see teachers that are burnt out or barely coping, and the teachers that are energetic are effective in their classroom bubble. Just as we generally don't choose to be single-parents, our classroom deserve 2 'parents', which is what are educators are proxies for. Students need to directly experience good communication, problem solving, and facilitation, which the provision of 2 adults in the room can model. I believe that Canberra parents, and even the broader community, would accept the increased resources that more educators in each classroom requires. They appreciate the importance of their childrens' education for the whole of life. It will take leadership and courage to take this on but I think the ACT community would respond.”
13 October, 2017
“Separate Year 11 and 12, with the options for non-tertiary, tertiary, and apprentice based systems - This works well. Please do not change it.”
22 September, 2017
“1. There needs to be a unit to investigate what teachers believe about good teaching and good learning and what they know of education theory in order to develop clear policy in this area. 2. Teaching practice might be based on keeping order, keeping students busy and caring for students. But this is not enough. Students need to be deeply involved in both planning what they are to learn and how it is to be assessed and then in the assessment and improvement of their work. Develop a culture of continuous improvement. 3. Emphasise learning skills rather than content - knowing how to not about.”
18 September, 2017
“We could create a personalised learning profile for every student when they enter the ACT education system. This profile is organic. It ultimately belongs to the student but is curated by their parents and carers through their journey. It is 'borrowed' and built on by the students' school leaders and classroom teachers. It is transparent. It is accessible online. It migrates with the student. It records plans and their implementation. It is the space where the outcomes of meetings and consultations are agreed. It notes successes. It observes challenges and suggests remedies. It is for everybody ... the especially vulnerable will be included, and perhaps will have more extensive records ... and, while high quality education and care is not guaranteed, the attempts to create it will be recorded, a cycle of continuous improvement will be facilitated, and a culture of shared responsibility and ownership created. It wouldn't be particularly hard or expensive to set up and the efficiencies generated year in / year out for everyone involved in the ACT education system would generate a net economic gain.”
16 September, 2017
“The government should endeavour to improve and fund more on the quality of teaching, rather than those superficial renovations. New technology is important. However, what we're really lack of is the systematic teaching - knowledge points should be taught systematically, not just something listed in the curriculum. The teacher should not be an all-in-one teacher, but to specialise - mathematics teachers, literacy teachers, science teachers, history teachers, art teachers, PE teachers, etc. They teach from class to class according to a defined calendar. Daily homework should be assigned. Without the above, don't complain why Australian students score lower than other countries. No pains no gains. Since Beijing China is the sister city of Canberra, we can have more communication on education and learn from the Chinesse school's success.”
4 September, 2017
“All ACT schools, primary, secondary and college, must be supported by qualified teacher librarians working in well funded and resourced libraries. Teacher librarians are specially qualified and have expert knowledge and skills in curriculum, use of ICT, literature, critical and creative thinking (such as information literacy and digital citizenship). Teacher librarians play a vital role in supporting the information and personal reading needs of teachers, students, and the school community, in fact, research shows that students with great school libraries perform better at school. School autonomy puts undue pressure and stress on school Principal's and creates inconsistency between schools in the ACT. High-level decision making should be centralised and managed at the directorate level. The school autonomy model should be reviewed, and a change management process completed to transition to a more appropriate management model. ”
4 September, 2017
“Students have access to online information, but not enough knowledge of information literacy to use it well. More focus should be put on critical literacy skills so that students are able to access appropriate material and use it effectively. They are too likely to be influenced by what is on their social media feed or what the media is promoting. We want them to have informed opinions based on evidence. Teacher Librarians are trained in information literacy and it should be compulsory to have at least one qualified Teacher librarian in each school and not left to the Principal to decide if the school can afford it.”
3 September, 2017
“More modern technology for schools such as Surface Pro's. Replace Chromebooks and I-pads”
1 September, 2017
“I like the ACT college system which creates a path from high school to university and prepared my daughter well for that transition. By way of improvements, I believe younger students should receive much more exposure to the natural environment, not just through science but across the board for all students. It needs to be more substantive engagement that looking or talking about the environment - it needs actual insertion i.e. camping, walking, field work etc.”
31 August, 2017
“Having a 9 year old in the ACT school system who attended a fabulous Early Childhood School which went from Pre-school to Yr 2, it has become clear in moving to a new school for yrs 3-6, that not all schools are equal in terms of what they offer, how they teach the curriculum and how they deal with issues. i can't help but feel that with all the different teaching philosophies on offer from schools, that it's parents and children who are being disadvantaged. One size fits all is not appropriate either, but Moore upfront advice and information is warranted to ensure students and parents find the best fit. It's no wonder that parents continuously look outside of their local primary and go in search of out of area schools. Canberra is a small place and rumours travel fast. If there was more continuity between how and what schools offer it may help local schools catch more of their local families. ”
28 August, 2017
“High school Y 7-10: I realise BYOD (bring your own device) is an important step for the education system however please evaluate it holistically, in partnership with the ACT Health Directorate, what are the mental and physical implications for our young people from the BYOD trials (underway since 2017?) and how can teachers and schools reduce the negative impacts (social inactivity in Y7, less activity at lunchtime, spatial skills/awareness reduced by the focus on computer) while benefitting from the positive impacts”
23 August, 2017
“We must apply laser focus to attracting top-tier students and dramatically improving their initial education and training, lest standards reduce to the point of becoming systemically unrecoverable. According to Geoff Masters, evidence shows that the highest performing countries attract top students to be teachers - Finland and Korea attract the top 10%, whereas Australia largely draws from the middle 30%. Remuneration might be part of this, but (greatly) increasing selectivity and enhancing the reputation of the profession is likely to be more effective. As an example of the problem, I always think of my wife, who as a student english teacher wisely recognised her poor technical linguistic competence (as a consequence of her own deficient school education), but was prohibited by her university from taking the entry literacy subject. She graduated, but ultimately chose to switch fields. However, even today I edit her work and routinely correct her spelling, grammar and punctuation. She and I both reflect on what could have been - all because our system allowed it....”
23 August, 2017
“More flexible approaches to learning and more individualised goal setting to enable students to realise their goals.”
16 August, 2017
“The PEA system should be reviewed as it's not currently working. Many parents like myself are using the MySchool website to assess our local schools and, finding them lacking, we're looking elsewhere for schools out of area that better meet our children's needs. We would honestly prefer to send our kids to the local primary school but it offers no language program, no music program and has one of the lowest ICSEA scores in the territory. It is also clearly underfunded by government and has very low parent contributions. Schools like this should be encouraged and funded to specialise in something unusual and appealing (like having a bilingual program, or a creative arts focus, or sustainability, or sports, or STEM for example). This would potentially draw more local families back to the school and also attract out of area families, thereby freeing up space in other schools that may be at capacity. It could also be an opportunity to engage the local community by utilising identified local expertise (for example local entrepreneurs or small business owners). ”
14 August, 2017
“Priority Enrolment Areas. Allow Principal discretion based on how well they can meet a student’s need. If a school at capacity has a state-of-the-art hearing system, allow a child with a mild hearing impairment (that may not meet ‘disability criteria’) to go to that school, without having to get special approval or jump through hoops to get there. If a child is gifted and there are no teachers trained in gifted education at their PEA school, allow that child to go to a school where there are trained teachers, same for children with dyslexia and other learning challenges. Live by ‘the exception to the rule’ and allow Principals to make the decision based on their knowledge of their community, school resources and meeting the needs of the child in question.”
14 August, 2017
“Fifteen hours of fully funded preschool for all 3 and 4 year olds in the ACT. Playschools provide a wonderful education to 3 year olds, so this model should be supported and made available to more ACT residents. More places are needed (particularly in Gungahlin where there is no access to a playschool), and places should be fully funded by the Government. There is plenty of research to support the benefits to individual children and to society as a whole, when children have access to two years of quality preschool education. There is a huge amount of Government savings to be made by investing heavily in early education and positively influencing developmental trajectory, compared to the reactionary cost of juvenile acts, services and jails. Investing in the early years improves life outcomes for individuals and the wider community. For example, http://www.mitchellinstitute.org.au/reports/two-years-preschool/ ”
9 August, 2017
“More accountability for schools enacting inclusive practices with students, parents and the broader community.”
4 August, 2017
“The High school sector (yrs 7-10) is the forgotten and under invested sector of the school system. They have the largest class sizes and the poorest level of resourcing. This sector, where students are going through puberty and starting to define themselves as young adults, needs more attention to the organisation of the classes in this sector. In particular more alternative styles of education need to be supported to enable the entire cohort to receive an education relevant to them. Many students seem to go into a holding pattern through these years and it is at this time that many lose their self-confidence and they then never catch up. More early intervention is required, with readily available counselling and additional resourcing required. This may include extra adult assistance in the classroom, which could be achieved through smaller class sizes or additional adult assistants. More flexible learning regimes, perhaps including competency based assessments that can be retaken, even in the core subjects, with outcomes based on the achievement of the competencies. ”
2 August, 2017
“High school teachers are increasingly having to deal with chronically disruptive students with equally disrespectful and disruptive parents. This makes it extremely difficult to teach as much time, effort and resourcing is placed on meeting the needs of the disruptive student to the detriment of the others. Without parental support, these students are rarely successful in mainstream schooling and require specialist intervention and support, access to community services and earlier work placements in a setting designed for this purpose. ”
1 August, 2017
“I think the students (especially secondary level and college level) need to be given more flexibility and capacity to drive their own education. By this I mean they should be given the tools and skills to learn and the option to be self-directed or in a formal structured classroom. Both of my children would have achieved more if they could have more freedom to work independently. They are both self motivated and keen learners but have been turned off education by being forced to fit into a classroom setting with the focus on constant assessment instead of continuous learning. The teachers are so stretched for time and they have to focus on the noisy or difficult kids to keep the classroom under control and on getting through the multitude of assessment tasks so the middle of the road or higher achievers are not getting the attention they need to feel motivated and challenged. Add into that mix the kids with social anxiety and depression who struggle just getting into school and we are missing the mark with a whole group of students.”
1 August, 2017
“It would be help everyone if teachers were held in higher esteem. ”
The first of a series of Discussion Papers released by the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development.
This guide was help you to have conversations within your school community.