Set our schools free to help students excel

Jun 22, 2015 by

Kevin Donnelly –

The Victorian education department has released two papers initiating a public discussion about the best way to raise standards, improve equity and make schools that are more effective.

While a number of sound discussion points are raised, including better recognising teacher expertise, closer community/school ties and how best to prepare for lifelong learning, the papers ignore the international move towards diversity, competition, autonomy and choice.

In Britain, for example, the recently returned Conservative government has signalled a significant overhaul of state education, announcing plans to transform an additional 1000 underperforming schools into independently managed academies by 2020.

Academies were introduced when Labour’s Tony Blair was prime minister and have become a key plank in reforming England’s education system, endorsed by both major parties.

This coincides with the release of a research paper by the University of Melbourne’s Gary Marks that proves independently managed non-government schools outperform government schools. (The paper, published this month by Australian Journal of Education, is titled: “Do Catholic and independent schools ‘add value’ to students’ tertiary entrance performance? Evidence from longitudinal population data.”)

The British academy schools operate in the same way that charter schools in the US and Sweden and Partnership Schools in New Zealand are operated. Schools are managed locally and are free of top-down, bureaucratic control in areas such as staffing, budgets and the school curriculum.

Source: Set our schools free to help students excel | The Australian

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