My colleague in Melbourne, Stephen Elder wrote an excellent piece in Saturday’s Australian newspaper on the ongoing Gonski saga and the need for both sides of politics to engage in the real issue of public policy. I hate to harp on about this but I can’t believe that politicians continue to get bogged down in debates over whether phonics should replace whole-language. These are issues to be addressed within school communities not in Parliament.
As I’ve said many times before, the challenges facing education in Australia (ie. improving the learning outcomes for each student) need to be addressed with coherent policy not ideology or nostalgia. Improving the quality of education by lifting the performance of teachers does not require a bi-partisan approach here. The approach simply needs to be rigorous.
Political parties will always agree to disagree but the best public policy is based on best evidence. I’d like to see our Education Minister Christopher Pyne remain focused on what really matters:-
- Quality of the teacher
- Quality of teacher learning to improve capabilities
- Precision around the implementation of learning strategies
- Core focus on improving literacy and numeracy
- Improving the quality of relationships
- Evidence of continuous improvement
What appears to be missed in discussions around education policy is an overall commitment to best evidence. The things that divide us should not be the things that actually improve the learning for every student. Best evidence is the best policy here and as Sir Ken Robinson points out education doesn’t go on in legislative buildings, it happens in schools and if you remove the discretion of teachers, then the system stops working.