Too often in education we get caught up worrying about our own situation, our own students, our own children, our own resources. What the Gonski Review set out to do was to fix a system that was failing a certain group of students and failing them badly. If you look at the PISA results you will notice that Australia is above the PISA average in regards to the quality of the education provided. However, you will also notice that there is a significant drop off in regards to equity and access across the board. Australia has a large group of students who for a range of reasons are being disadvantaged when it comes to learning and risks creating a two tiered culture of those who have and those who have not.
What has been disappointing in the whole debate is that we often hear about who will supposedly be missing out in ‘real’ terms and so forth, but what is missed is that if a school were to ‘miss’ out, it would be because their need is not as great as that of another school. Sadly, the real people who will miss out are those who are silent in all of these debates, the students, especially those from a disadvantaged background. To help the students our schools need more support, whether this be in the form of coaching or resources. That is what the changes to funding are about, not about increasing wages or other such absurdities. Teachers will always continue teaching and students will continue to learn. If you look at any of John Hattie’s work you will see that, there is always an element of progression. The question though is how much are they progressing and to what extent is the system letting them down?
My greatest fear is that many teachers do not necessarily realise the day to day support that they receive, such as learning coaches, student support programs and smaller class sizes. A lot of this is currently provided through National Partnerships, which finishes this year. The ‘real’ consequences are clear for all to see, larger classes and less support. If we fail to grasp this once in a lifetime opportunity to make a wholesale change to the way things are done then by the time we realise what has happened, it will all be too late.
In the end, what people need to realise is that EVERYONE benefits from a first-class education system. However, at the moment these benefits are being reaped by too few.
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