The last several years has seen the emergence of a growing consensus on what makes the difference in student learning. This consenus is often arrrived at from different perspectives yet the foundations for improving learning outcomes is clear.

Angus James, Director of the Business Council of Australia has written about the link between economic prosperity and quality education systems published in the Australian Financial Review (30 April 2008).

Angus believes that ‘education is not an isolated process…rather a continuum’.

It’s great to see the business sector supporting our efforts to make schooling relevant and to acknowledge that learning does not stop in Year 10 or 12.

Angus is in favour of principals recruiting their teaching staff as a way of improving the quality of teaching and therefore student learning outcomes. Principals are like coaches, each wants to be able to select the best player for the team but what happens when there isn’t enough talent in the pool to draw from?

The BCA believes the most important educational reform is to improve the quality of teaching by creating initiatives to attract and retain the best staff. This a key part of supporting good learning.

We have to always remember that our educational strategy does not miss the star player – the teacher. We must focus on our teachers if the quality of teacher is the key influence in improving student outcomes. This means a well crafted professional learning strategy involving the teacher at the centre of the strategy, not peripheral to it. It also means ensuring teachers have greater control over their working lives. Tough challenges but very doable.

As I’ve said before, raising the professional bar requires a national strategy. We need to start by:

  • ensuring our universities reflect learning in today’s world
  • developing whole of school professional learning programs
  • building local and global learning networks
  • investing in world-class leadership programs

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