The Business Council of Australia has just released a discussion paper on ‘Making Australia’s Education System its Next Competitive Advantage’.
Perhaps this is the wake-up call school systems need in order to radically re-think schooling. I don’t think the BCA wants to commodify or corporatise schooling but rather to ensure all Australian students are well-equipped with the skills needed for a 21st century workforce.
The paper identifies two main areas of concern:
- the number of students failling behind in literacy and numeracy (and the lack of early intervention)
- the number of students lacking effective skills and knowledge for the workforce
In most schools, the wheels are already in motion and these issues are being addressed, which will, in time, lead to sustained change.
The BCA has developed a five point action plan for broader discussion: greater early intervention, customising learning, strenghtening the teaching profession, increased investment and improved governance.
The question we need to ask is how we make schooling relevant in today’s world and does the BCA’s paper give valuable insight in moving things forward. I think it does.What is missing in the BCA paper is the need for a greater alignment and cooperation between the classroom, school and system . What is needed is a more coordinated and strategic approach in harnessessing the resources needed to support and sustain this search for relevance. We know that in isolation the teacher, the school and the system cannot sustain change. It is too complex and the variables too broad for one level to do it all. The work of Grossman et al makes this very point in their study on ‘how to manage urban school districts’ published in the Harvard Business Review (Nov 2006).
Broader collaboration is the only way forward but are we truly open to it?