Revolution School is a four part documentary series that began on ABC TV recently. It captures the turn-around journey of a Victorian high school ranked in the lowest 10% of the state. In a sea of navel gazing and feel-good solutions to improving schooling, it is refreshing to see honesty and shared responsibility on the table.
What has stood out each week is the use of theory and research to inform good practice. Kambrya College didn’t look in the rear view mirror for solutions that could be repackaged and rolled out nor did they try and emulate competitors who drive educational change through a mix of externally imposed accountabilities and fear. And they didn’t expect to be rescued by superman.
Educational change had to come from within and from applying the research in relation to improving learning outcomes for all students. The approach was based on Hattie’s mantra: know thy impact on student learning.
Kambrya’s journey is uplifting and should be applauded and admired but there are thousands of schools around Australia in the same boat. We’d like to see all of them take the same approach but as we have seen change is easy to suggest but much harder to implement and sustain.
With a federal election less than a month away, education has been the platform for both parties. Rather than promising big bucks to fix the problem, a better solution would be a commitment from politicians to make the Kambrya experience the norm for all struggling schools.
This requires an end to the shameless finger pointing and blame game but rather encourage schools to become critics of their own practice by being honest and open and sharing and collaborating so that we are all on a proper learning journey.
As Professor John Hattie said the fact 1 in 5 children are failing to complete high school is the “biggest crime in Australia”. It’s time we focussed on what counts otherwise we will continue to count the cost.
3 thoughts on “Fuelling the revolution”
Watching Revolution School I kept wondering when the ‘revolution’ would occur. What I saw was inspiring but how was it different to schooling in the 1970s? Curriculum reappraisal and renewal was largely driven within the schools I was associated with. The ‘outward bound’ activities were common and persist in many schools in contemporary education. I remember writing an article published by the NSW Dept. of Education about this topic in the mid 1970s. I prepared two Masters’ theses related to off site education during the late 1970s. It seems to me there is now far less scope for within school curriculum renewal since I qualified as a teacher 45 years ago.
Craig, good points. I think the “game” has to shift. Improvement of the old is better than nothing but we need to transform. This is going to be the revolution. It is taking hold and will continue to grow from what Insee and hear.
My wife and I watched the series and reflected on a number of issues. We were both trained as teachers in the 1970’s in NSW ( we now live and work in WA). The issues that were raised for us centred around 1) many of the strategies that they put in place to improve learning opportunities for the students were things that we had done in the 70’s and 80’s in both private and public schools in NSW. 2) The strategies that were used in behavioural management of the students, and the way some of the teachers spoke to their students would have them dismissed from the schools that we have worked as leaders. As an ex-Prioncipal I would not have appreciated the way their students were handled.