QTU President's comment, 30 April 2018

Initial response to Gonski 2.0 report

The release today of the report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools (link to report https://docs.education.gov.au/node/50516) highlights the gap between rational thought on education and the policies of the Turnbull government. While much of the media reporting has been measured and true to the intent of the report, the federal government, led by Minister Birmingham, persists in attempting to paint our education system and the teachers and principals who work within it, in a negative light.

The report holds that the review focused on “identifying impactful and practical” strategies to build on improvement efforts already under way in education systems across the nation. The recommendations appear to reflect a strong link to the views of stakeholders that provided more than 300 submissions to the review.

The deciding factor, as always, will be preparedness of governments to provide the resources necessary to deliver on the potential. State schools have already been targeted by the Turnbull government with unfair funding arrangements that must change if the report recommendations are to be realised.

Central to the report’s findings and subsequent recommendations is an acknowledgement of several key considerations that have been driving debate on education for some time.

  1. The 19th century “industrial” education model needs to change.
  2. We need to refocus on meaningful teacher-led assessment rather than point-in-time tests such as NAPLAN.
  3. There should be a place for students in designing and leading the learning process.
  4. Teachers’ and principals’ workloads are too heavy, largely due to having to deal with non-educational tasks.
  5. We need to refocus on teachers’ and principals’ professional expertise, including ongoing professional learning and professional autonomy for principals to be education leaders.

The federal government controls the budget but runs no schools. Only state governments and teachers and principals can deliver on any change in education. The test will be what the federal government does with the review report through the federal budget, the negotiations for new education funding agreements with the states and territories, and in the lead-up to the next federal election.

The devil is always in the detail. Analysis of the lengthy report is now underway and detailed reporting will be provided as soon as it is possible to do so.

AEU Media Release - www.qtu.asn.au/aeu-mr-300418

Kevin Bates