It may feel as if New South Wales has become the education review state of late. We have a review of the NSW curriculum and the one into the use of smart phones in schools. These reviews, while important, skirt around the core issues. What would happen if the time and energy invested into these reviews is actually re-diverted into creating policies that are focussed on improving the quality of teaching and the quality of professional collaboration in order to deliver improved outcomes?
This week’s Q&A program was focussed on the current issues facing Australian schools. What resonated was a sense that many teachers are feeling more hamstrung and less valued than ever before. But as Senior Research Fellow at CIS, Dr Jennifer Buckingham pointed out, there needs to be acknowledgement that there are average teachers in schools and there are really effective ones.
As I’ve written before, the profession needs to re-craft a new narrative that shapes educational policy. We cannot do this if we are not working towards the same goals and committed to the same levels of professional collaboration and continuous improvement.
On the other hand, unless policy makers engage deeply with the profession, we condemn another generation of young people to a sub-standard schooling experience. Further, the exclusion of the profession from creating sound policy entrenches compliance and cynicism. It also misses a valuable opportunity for a richer collaborative approach that recognises the voice and wisdom of ‘learning to do policy’ together that finally sees teachers as masters of the systems not mere servants.