I wonder how many times we need to hear the OECD and Grattan Institute tell us that our education system needs to be performing over and above and not under and below international benchmarks! The link between our declining performance on PISA and teacher quality has been the subject of commentary from educational experts for more than a decade.
Speaking recently in Dubai, OECD’s education chief, Andreas Schleicher warned that without sufficient investment in the teaching profession and a fundamental rethink of the role of teachers in today’s world, we risk slipping further down the international ladder.
It’s not just the economic imperative that we won’t be globally competitive that should compel our profession to change, but the moral imperative of giving every student in every school a world-class education.
One of the problems according to Schleicher is that we continue to see teaching as number of hours spent in front of students as though it’s the only half of the whole when in fact the other critical half is professional learning and teacher collaboration.
I agree wholeheartedly with Schleicher that we must move away from seeing teachers as deliverers of a curriculum to teachers as ‘owners of professional standards.’ This view is evident in Finland where it is widely accepted that educators are ‘the ultimate authorities on education, not bureaucrats…’
The profession has been compliant for too long in the face of imposed educational reforms and mandates dictating the nature of teachers’ work. Our education system is too valuable to be a political and ideological target for short-sighted policies. I’m not naive enough to suggest that we are close to partisan politics in Australia but the time for a coherent pre to post schooling framework was a decade ago.
It’s striking that the OECD’s education chief has expressed concerned about the future of our education system. It is even more striking though that our politicians have failed to listen and our profession has failed to take the lead.