Educational policy and the Gonski brand

For the past four months I’ve been teaching a course on policy and politics to masters students. It’s a course I love teaching as it always links to contemporary events and it’s easy to point students to media stories and policy announcements. Things are always happening in the policy space (and we wonder why teachers get change fatigue). Over the time that I’ve run this latest iteration of the course, the policy that has been in the media the most, I believe, would be Gonski. Gonski in terms of the new 80-20 funding model and Gonski, the education review called ‘Growth through Achievement‘.

My analysis is that ‘Gonski’ has become a brand. And the Liberal party have been working hard to transfer ownership of the Gonski brand, to themselves. Continue reading

Making sense of Gonski 2.0

This post is a part of a series being written for my EDUC6352 online masters students.

Historical background: School funding is a perennial policy problem and the original Gonski model (circa 2013) cemented Labor’s reputation for being the party concerned with education. Tony Abbott committed the Liberal party to matching Labor’s education plan dollar for dollar at the eleventh hour in the 2013 election. And, once the Liberal party won that election, they matched the funding for the first funding cycle but without committing the states (except for NSW who’d signed a deal with the outgoing Labor party) to the conditions of the Gonski plan (ie. needs based funding – the funds needs to be distributed according to a particular model that adds loadings to a base level according to levels of disadvantage).

Screenshot-2018-4-17 Tony Abbott election promises - Google Search

In order to neutralise school funding as an election issue the Liberal party have introduced their own funding model, dubbed Gonski 2.0. Sensationalist media reporting (Private schools getting $6700 more per student than NSW public schools; Richest private schools get payments from $7m government ‘slush fund‘; Funds bias hurt Catholic schools) have made it hard to determine the differences (in effect rather than in dollar terms) between the original Gonski model and Gonski 2.0.

From what I can glean, however, in terms of realpolitik, Gonki 2.0 may have advantages. It enshrines an 80:20 funding arrangement in legislation, replacing previous ad hoc, opaque, confusing funding agreements. Here is some of the analysis available: Continue reading

Teacher reflections on policy

This post is a part of a series being written for my EDUC6352 online masters students.

Educational policy always sits at the intersection of the past, present and future, with the latter often expressed in policy texts as an imagined desired future” (Rizvi & Lingard, 2010, p. xi).

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Much of teachers work is shaped by policy – yet do we know how teachers feel about this aspect of their work? Currently in Australia there is a push to professionalise teaching – and yet much of the current policy  has removed agency from teachers (the last ten years have seen the removal of curriculum control, increased standarised testing, and the introduction of a prescriptive model of teacher professional standards). At the same time there is a growing criticism of how many children are missing out on the benefits of education. (See the video below, for an example). Some of this criticism comes with a sense that teachers are to blame and that managing the teachers, via policy settings, will create a better future and a better education system.

Continue reading

Teachers decry the marketisation of education

This post is a part of a series being written for my EDUC6352 online masters students.

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12 months ago I blogged about the Australian education policy context by providing an overview of the Melbourne Declaration. Today, The Age has published an anonymous piece by three teachers from Victoria who provide a scathing critique of the same context, and the education policies proposed by the opposition party in Victoria. In reference to the latter, they note that the:

draconian plans – which include installing police in our 10 most “high-risk” schools, abolishing the Safe Schools program, pumping up parochial Australian nationalism and stamping out celebration of diversity in the curriculum – are bound to have a devastating impact on the educational opportunities of our most disadvantaged and marginalised students.

For these teachers however, the half baked idea of putting police in disadvantaged schools does not represent the real problem. What they are really concerned about is the marketisation of education that’s been orchestrated by both the Labor and Liberal parties over the past ten years. Continue reading