Education – Australian Style

Is it possible that Australia’s education system, particularly the public education system, does not operate for the best interests of its students?  Is it possible that our education system operates for a purpose other than to teach our children, to get them best out of them and to prepare them for the world?  Is it possible that the never ending increases of public funding into education is much like pouring more and more water into a bucket which has ever numerous holes?

Well let’s go to the video tape.

When it comes to economic comparisons, particularly debt levels, many like to compare Australia to the OECD.  This seems a poor comparison given the significant weighting Europe makes in OECD numbers.  In some ways, this is like comparing the running speed of a 20 year old athlete to 65 year old retiree.  Notwithstanding, let’s look at the numbers.

The most commonly used global education performance comparisons are done via PISA.  PISA is the Programme for International Student Assessment.  It is run by the OECD and is a survey conducted every 3 years which “aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students”.  The most recent published results were from 2012.

According to PISA, Australia’s education performance has been clearly trending down since 2000 in the 3 key measurement areas.  This despite the billions of additional resources added including through various schemes such as Building the Education Revolution, Computers in Schools and the Gonski Reforms.  Herewith the numbers:

Year

Maths

Science

Reading

2000

533

528

528

2003

524

524

524

2006

520

527

213

2009

514

527

515

2012

504

521

512

How can this be?

Could it be that Australia’s education system is actually designed and operated to produce and manage teachers and to avoid accountability, and to optimise the number of non-teaching education administers and bureaucrats?  Consider for a moment a key design element of the Australian system – a national curriculum.

From a production and operational management perspective, a national curriculum is a wonderful thing.  What needs to be done to produce a maths teacher is the same in NSW as it is in the Northern Territory.  Plus, to move a year 8 history teacher from remote Western Australia to inner city Melbourne is a relatively easy thing.  The problem though is that the education needs of a child in Darwin may be different to a child in Sydney which may be different to a child in Carnarvon which may be different to a child in Oodnadatta.

A national curriculum is a centrally planned program that leaves pretty much no room for accountability, innovation or local customisation.  A curriculum based systems is also the perfect model for administrators because it works through centralisation and allows “experts” to rule; ripe ground for thousands of non-teaching bureaucrats to design and monitor a curriculum and go to international education conferences.

A national curriculum model is also perfect for the experts and centralisers as there is negligible end point accountability because if, at the end of schooling, a child can’t read, write or count, as long as the curriculum has been taught, then it is clearly someone else’s fault and problem.  It must be the parents or it must be that the school just does not have enough resources (reference again Gonski).

Contrast a national curriculum centric model with a standards based model.

Standards are a minimum level of competence required.  This contrasts with a curriculum which is a method to (hopefully) achieve the minimum level of competence.

Standards require that at the end of some measurement period, say year 6, children should be able to read to a particular level, to count to a particular level and demonstrate certain other competencies.  A standard does not define how the standard is met.  A curriculum on the other hand does not define a standard but rather requires that children are taught particular content in a particular way.  All children taught the same material the same way.

Under a standards model, outcomes (reading, writing and arithmetic) are defined but how children are taught to read, write and count is not.  Importantly, a standards based model allows for local customisation.  For example, a school with a high non English speaking back ground enrolments may want to deploy its resources in a different way to a rural school.

The problem, however, is that local customisation is a major threat to education administrators and education bureaucrats, the ones who design and manage our current underperforming system. This is significant because local customisation diminishes the purpose and authority of education administrators and education bureaucrats – the “experts” who advise the politicians.

If we are going to have all these conversations about jobs of the future and innovation, can we have a conversation about the design and management of Australia’s education system and perhaps talk about education innovation?  It is clear that Australia is not getting the best return on its investment.  The results keep getting worse and worse and more and more public resources are channeled in because of the declining results.  It is a negative feedback loop.

Now I am not an education expert.  I appreciate this stuff is complex.  But what is clear to me is that what is currently being done is not working well enough.  More and more money for less and less outcomes (see table above).

Before we have a conversation to raise taxes to give more money to the states to pour into the leaking bucket, can we please have a conversation about how the current money is spent.  Before we give more money to the CSIRO and other hair brained industrial policy schemes, let’s look at the education system and design a system to produce the innovators we want.

When will this folly end?

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80 Responses to Education – Australian Style

  1. Boambee John says:

    Spartacus,

    I have been groping towards your idea of “standards based” rather than “curriculum based” education for a while, but you have summed it up better than I could have.

    Getting the idea up, however, is a real problem, there are “essential” functions (lots of bureaucratic jobs) at stake here!

  2. Snirtus says:

    Well said that person!

  3. Stackja says:

    3 Rs?

  4. Gary in Erko says:

    Between 2003 and 2006 the score for maths didn’t sink enough, and the score for science raised slightly and remained stable. Heads will roll in the Teachers Federation.

  5. mosomoso says:

    Just with the degree of centralisation we have already, try aquiring and changing a light bulb in an Australia school or rail office or other utility, especially here in the bush. And don’t even think of running out of printer ink.

  6. teddy bear says:

    Not only do an increasing number of teachers not want to teach, prefering to indoctrinate instead but students these days are not properly assesed and even ones that are assesed and found to be not pass the grade, they are simply passed up to the next teacher to deal with. This is where their dirty little “learning difficulites” comes about. Its not that these kids have learning disabilites its simply the have been passed up so many times and have so many gaps in their knowledge they can’t understand the material.

  7. Anne Henderson says:

    agree entirely but has been happening for a couple of decades

  8. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Is it possible that Australia’s education system, particularly the public education system, does not operate for the best interests of its students? Is it possible that our education system operates for a purpose other than to teach our children, to get them best out of them and to prepare them for the world? Is it possible that the never ending increases of public funding into education is much like pouring more and more water into a bucket which has ever numerous holes?

    Heh. When I’m out walking past the local public school, which is festooned with green union-printed Gonski signs, I ask myself the same thing.

    I also think dark thoughts, like about what graffiti I could write on said signs (‘tax sucking lefty zombies’, ‘Gaia worshippers go home!’, ‘why are there no male teachers anymore?’ etc), how I could cut the signs up in little pieces to use as worm food, how I could put NAPLAN statistics on them or such, but sadly I am a Christian and that sort of thing is not allowed.

  9. Tim Neilson says:

    Stackja
    #1885143, posted on December 11, 2015 at 3:59 pm
    3 Rs?
    That could be our new slogan, to replace “building the education revolution” etc.
    “Up the R’s!”

  10. zyconoclast says:

    I reminds me of how many athletes the AOC choses to take to the Olympics.
    1. how many administrators, coaches and assorted ‘hanger on-ers’ you want to go.
    2 Select sufficient athletes* to justify the numbers in point 1.

    *Most of the athletes taken have no chance of making it to the finals, let alone winning. Unfortunately it is up to the taxpayer to pay for their valuable experience that the athlete is supposed to get. This will prepare them for losing when they next attend.

  11. zyconoclast says:

    That should be ‘It’ reminds me…

  12. chrisl says:

    Education is about marketing
    Marketing the school
    Marketing the curriculum
    Marketing the results
    Marketing the university
    Student learning Pah!!

  13. Sydney Boy says:

    I’ve always been a fan of a national curriculum, as the chemistry you need to know in Victoria is the chemistry you need to know in Queensland; and the maths you need to know in NSW is the same as the maths you need to know in WA. And I’ve always argued the national curriculum should be what you need to know – not how it is taught or learned. Thank you, Spartacus, for the new and improved terminology. I will now argue in favor of national education standards or outcomes – not a curriculum.

  14. herodotus says:

    Innovation, Education, Health, Welfare – all are co-opted by the left (including the present government) to use in empty promises, empty rhetoric.

  15. Makka says:

    Education Dept’s, Federal and State, are Socialist/Union sewers. The most important metric in these institutions is how Union dues are travelling.

    Operationally, anything that can possibly be used to measure teacher performance should either be avoided like the plague or be constructed in such a way that it can be readily gamed.

    Student outcomes rank very low indeed in Education Dept’s priorities , where growing the Budget (more teachers and more fees) ranks supreme. Therefore, all manner of resources, studies and commissions are focussed on delivering outcomes that always endorse the notion ;”if only we had more money”. What politician wouldn’t want to grow his empire?

    You have to ask yourself just how important education is in a nation when the ATAR score to enter teaching is around 60 and heading lower.

    Definitely there are good and effective teachers in the system but they are far to few in a system designed to ensure they conform to and comply with the Socialist modelling.

  16. Rabz says:

    “Up the R’s!”

    How the government views its interactions with the taxpayers, more like.

  17. Gypsy says:

    Add to all that the current practices in Early Childhood in Australia (especially WA) are not research based established best practice but simply a push down of an explicitly taught academic based curriculum leaving little time for play and developing relationship skills which young children NEED. Research shows no gain for children in this model- in fact the opposite there are a number of negatives long term for children who are *forced* to go the academic route too early relating to learning disabilities, mental health, physical development, incarceration, unemployment and low tertiary education entry. While their lucky (and most likely wealthy) play based counterparts are happier, healthy, more successful and out achieving them by age 11. It will be years before the results of this current ‘experiment’ on our children are seen and by then a generation will have been hurt by these policies and practices. And unless you can opt to homeschool or afford private the much lauded ‘choice’ parents have in public education is not a choice at all.
    G. Stockley BEd, Dip Tchg- Primary.

  18. JohnA says:

    Is it possible that Australia’s education system, particularly the public education system, does not operate for the best interests of its students?

    [LBJ] It is with a heavy heart that we intone…

    “Is the Pope a Catholic?”

    And lest I spark a new debate, please let me explain that this is intended rhetorically.

  19. rickw says:

    The results are a disgrace.

    50% of my kids, nephews and nieces have required additional tutoring to supplement what they aren’t learning in school. In addition to a lot of assistance from mum and dad. What if your parents aren’t so inclined?

    Most of their exercises from school are crap, I can get better material from the news agent.

    The socialist factory that is Australian Education needs to be torn apart, that means sacking a heap of these teachers.

  20. JohnA says:

    Boambee John #1885122, posted on December 11, 2015, at 3:48 pm

    Spartacus,

    I have been groping towards your idea of “standards-based” rather than “curriculum based” education for a while, but you have summed it up better than I could have.

    Getting the idea up, however, is a real problem, there are “essential” functions (lots of bureaucratic jobs) at stake here!

    And for Sydney Boy, too.

    National Curriculum = Inputs to the Process
    Standards = Outputs required of the Process
    (As long as we are not talking “Outcome Based Education and Agenda 21).

    When Universities set Matriculation exams for entry to their august sandstone cloisters, average (and NOT so average) secondary schools organised themselves to teach to the required outcomes.

    Life was simple, ONCE!

  21. Hemihenry says:

    One of the most important discussions our country needs to have.
    I had a sudden insight into this problem earlier this year, following a bus with a big ad on the back for the
    “Hands up for reading” project.
    The ad said I should be ashamed because 20% (as I recall it) of Aboriginal kids were illiterate.
    I remembered that those kids in remote Northern S A get the most expensive education in Australia –
    costs are running at close to $100k per student, per year.It is not working.
    Where is the change to a new way of doing business? Where are the mass sackings of Administrators, “aides” and Teachers?
    Nowhere, because educational outcomes are a very low order concern.

  22. hzhousewife says:

    I have yet to meet teacher who wants to teach kids in a lower socioeconomic area to the one they are in – each and every one aspires to teach a cohort of kids who, by virtue of their affluent or highly educated parents, do not really need “teaching”.

  23. Bert A says:

    Where is the change to a new way of doing business? Where are the mass sackings of Administrators, “aides” and Teachers?
    Nowhere, because educational outcomes are a very low order concern.

    As sir Humphrey said hospitals work far more efficiently and better without patients, same goes for schools.

    Not all but most state schools are there as sheltered workshops for the otherwise unemployable teachers, administrators and sundry hangers-on.

  24. Lem says:

    Thanks for the post Spartacus, and all the others. And on a different note: Happy Christmas.

    Long may the slaves roam free.

  25. Eyrie says:

    What is really annoying is that how to teach children the academic skills necessary to be functioning members of society was a done deal 100 years ago. It was still working well in Western Australia in an inner suburb State Primary School in the late 1950s (Personal experience). Standards testing every 6 months.
    How did this go wrong?
    First step to fix it – make the little bastards sit at desks in rows (yes, technically at least half of them are bastards, nowadays. The ones whose parents were married when they were born will be a minority, particularly if they are still together), do spelling, comprehension and mental arithmetic and written calculation EVERY DAY. It worked then and it will work now. Ignore the whining.

  26. 1234 says:

    Yes it is complex but as a person who admits they are not an education expert you are pretty dogmatic about the cause of the systems ills. See what Dean Ashendon writes. You might learn something.

  27. Eyrie says:

    Furthermore, half the teachers were MEN, WW2 veterans mostly and the teachers and headmaster handled administration. No secretaries or support staff. Great tooth to tail ratio.

  28. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Nowadays HSC students do not have to do any maths nor any science. Of course then they choose not to because those courses are hard, thereby dropping their TER’s.

    Its no wonder that the Australian public is so unscientific and innumerate. The teachers’ unions have engineered this with three decades of progressive shite.

  29. Charles says:

    Finally, someone has worked out that all three of our educations systems (VET, schools and Universities) have been designed to benefit the practitioners, and are not at all to benefit the prospective recipients.

  30. Driftforge says:

    Even standards have their limitations when applied nationally. Take Tasmania, where the average student is some 10% less capable* than the average student around the rest of the nation, NT excluded for obvious reasons.

    Should the same standards be applied? Is this likely to promote the best outcomes for those children, or just frustrate them?

    Any system needs to be designed for the children it serves, to achieve the best outcome possible for those children. Both national standards and national curriculum will fall short of this outcome.

    *See NAPLAN results. And no, its not the education system — the results for Grade 3 & 5 show that.

  31. Big_Nambas says:

    I have had the pleasure (sarc} of interviewing many young people who had year 10 leaving certificates.
    Math ability zero.
    Written English skill zero.
    Communication skills zero.
    Ability to read zero.

    Education System? is that a joke or what?

  32. Sydney Boy says:

    I point to Beavis and Butthead (girlfriend’s children and products of the public school system) as examples of what the education system should not produce; but does so by the bucket-load.

  33. Robin says:

    First, the purpose of PISA as well as other international assessments like PIACC or TIMSS is to drive global education policy in a common direction. It is premised on being able to socially reengineer students at a neurological level in terms of how they perceive the world. The creation of PISA, what is being assessed, and how it relates to Comptencies generally is covered in depth citing OECD documents in my book Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon.

    It alsp covers 21st century skills and the ATC 21S global initiative of UNESCO, the OECD, and the Worldbank headquarterd at the University of Melbourne. That is now rolling into GELP and what is called transdisciplinary education.

    Secondly, before the Paris Climate summit going on now, there was a UNESCO Youth Summit on education on how to create peace globally in “the minds of men.” http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/rapprochemont-or-civilization-surrender-how-to-force-human-solidarity-starting-with-preschool-education/ lays out the little known but guiding UN International Decade of the Rapprochement of Cultures that quietly commenced in 2013.

    Never, ever, think this is about teaching reading or chemistry properly anymore. Subjects are just a means for creating the desired ‘learning experiences’ to change the child.

  34. papachango says:

    “standards based” rather than “curriculum based” education

    This is actually a pretty fundamental principle of outsourcing or procuring any sort of professional services (education is service delivered by teachers). As far as possible, pay for outputs rather than for inputs, and you’ll get better value for money.
    e.g. if you engage a consultant and just pay them daily rates you’ll just get some very expensive fluff, but if you negotiate a fixed price to deliver a set of outcomes you might actually get it. Even cleaners, it’s better to pay them a fixed fee to clean a house than an hourly rate as you know exactly what you’ll be getting for your money.

    Why should teachers and schools be any different?

  35. Robin says:

    Careful when quoting Ken Robinson. I have heard him speak in person and his idea of ‘creativity’ is a malleable pudding mind unlikely to accurately sense it is being lied to.

    Having heard his anger over what happened to the formerly prosperous Liverpool by the time he was a youth, he seems to believe that Marx’s Human Development Society is a genuine global possibility. We just need to make sure there is no more Transmission of Knowledge education with its ability to create those inequitable Axemaker Minds.

  36. rickw says:

    Schools kill creativity

    It’s all about creativity rather than learning, skills and knowledge. Why most software is all show and no go.

  37. Robber Baron says:

    I recently took a redundancy package to leave an Australian university after many years of teaching, so I have some insight as to what ails it. I can report that university management is increasingly infested with feminist “social justice warriors” which tend to be of the female of the species (some men are indistinguishable from and every bit as bitchy as female feminists).

    I can testify that the quality of management has declined significantly over the years, so much so, that the least capable, yet best networked in the sisterhood, have risen to the top. Unsurprisingly, more of the same are promoted. Group-think prevails. Students are spoon-fed. No real independent learning occurs. Feminist ideals are pushed from every angle. I recall having to attend a training session where lecturers had to teach without referring to gender because our ‘clients’ (students) may be offended. Many topics are off limits. Teaching becomes politically correct. Controversial subject matter which generally is the most interesting, can’t be discussed. “Green” and sustainability topics are encouraged, capitalism and profit are discouraged.

    The feminists have ruined everything!

  38. David Gould says:

    The national curriculum cannot be blamed for the decline in results, as the national curriculum has not yet been implemented except a few schools – for example, the one I teach at, which was pretty much the first in Australia to implement the national curriculum, and then only in Maths and English, as the others had not been finalised as yet. Given that your data only goes to 2013, it is difficult to see how a curriculum that began at my school in 2014 could be responsible …

  39. john malpas says:

    So cultural maxism is succeding. So far – education, marriage, the church , the military and increasingly the police. What next?

  40. Old School Conservative says:

    There is an alternative to a National Curriculum.
    Leave the curriculum to the States. Perhaps this could lead to competition between the States to build the best education system in Australia so that people would be tempted to move to that State, thus increasing the potential for an improved economy in that State.
    A disadvantage of a National Curriculum is that it gives one powerful interest group the ability to capture and manipulate the schooling of all Australians. State based curricula is a diversified model which minimises the risk of one philosophy dominating Australian teaching.

  41. . says:

    No, I won’t “be careful” in quoting Ken Robinson, his views are not only correct and prescient they are well presented.

    You’re offended because he put shit on Bush? Bush violated property rights to get his way in business. He’s no saint.

    Common core is precisely the kind of thing that Robinson is against. The fact that 5 x 3 is “better” than 3 x 5 now is just another example of schools killing off divergent thinking.

  42. Robin says:

    I guess you are for a non-transmission of knowledge, ‘organic’ view of education then. Just the child interacting with his environment and other people. I took very good notes.

    What does Bush have to do with any of this discussion? looking for a strawman to light up?

    Old School–leaving it to the States in Australia or the US or canada ignores how accreditation globally acts as both the enforcer for the UNESCO, change the child vision (also covered in my book) and essentially the invisible poison delivery system into every classroom. True in higher ed and most grad schools now as well. The stories the Deans tell me off the record of their last accreditation visit. I also have private schools in the US creating faux curriculum during accreditation visits because actually teaching the subject still earns demerits.

  43. OldOzzie says:

    From Single Parent Household, educated in the 1950s – Kinder, Years 1 & 2 by the Nuns (we did not get on), year 3 Primary onwards by Male Teachers at Marist Brothers.

    I learnt to read, write, add, articulate, enunciate and, surprisingly did elocution lessons (the female teacher was a dish), class size of 55 in year 3 Primary, tapering down to 45 in Year 5 of High School – Leaving Certificate.

    Sat for NSW External Bursary Exams in 6th Class Primary, and won Bursary for years 1-3 of High School, then re-sat External Bursary Exams in Intermediate Certificate year and won Bursary for Years 4 and 5 (Leaving Certificate) of High School.

    Did Latin, French, Chemistry, Honours Physics, Honours Maths 1 (had to do that externally at Manly High School) & Maths 2, and English for Leaving Certificate. According to my Main Teacher in year 5 High School, who wanted me to repeat the Leaving Certificate, I probably got the last Commonwealth Scholarship awarded in 1961

    Listening to my wife, who taught disadvantaged children in Primary, we have lost the plot – “Touchy Feely” prioritised over the basics, no discipline, and she despaired at the young teachers who could not spell, and had absolutely no grasp of English Grammar

    Do I have an answer – My wife and I are applying the Education Approach we went through to our Grand-Children with the co-operation of their Parents – Strong emphasis on reading , learning times tables by rote and testing our Grand Children, try to inculcate a Love of Learning

  44. . says:

    Robin
    #1885766, posted on December 12, 2015 at 10:10 am
    I guess you are for a non-transmission of knowledge, ‘organic’ view of education then. Just the child interacting with his environment and other people. I took very good notes.

    I guess you should stop assuming what other people think.

    What does Bush have to do with any of this discussion? looking for a strawman to light up?

    Assuming Robinson is some sort of left wing ideologue was stupid on your part.

  45. Old Salt says:

    There were two articles in the daily Telegraph dated 3 December.

    The first article reported that 40% of school principals had been threatened with violence and 36% had experienced ‘some sort of bullying’. Both parents and students are guilty of this behaviour; however, 77% of actual assaults were by students. The study reporting these results was conducted by the Australian Catholic University (ACU).

    The second article reported that Australian students’ academic performance continues to decline.

    If indeed the discipline in NSW classrooms has collapsed then it should come as no surprise that academic results have declined. Surely if students are busy threatening their teachers there must be little time left to concentrate on the subject matter.

    Even more intriguing is the fact that the ACU conducted the research. There are approximately 1600 public servants in the Federal Department of Education and Training and about 99,000 in the NSW Department of Education, 30% of which are non-teachers. Surely this massive ‘overhead’ should be capable of assessing the classroom situation without the ACU’s assistance.

    This therefore begs the question: ‘With so much overhead, why cannot the Federal and State Governments enthusiastically address the lack of discipline in Australia’s schools and fix the problem?’

    I attended two excellent schools in Toowoomba, Qld where any show of disrespect was met with instant and severe punishment. There were absolutely no disciplinary problems in those schools and the academic results were excellent. I understand that we have allowed the ‘left progressives’ to infiltrate our institutions, including education, and we now reap the consequences. That does not mean, however, that we shouldn’t retaliate and sort out this unacceptable behaviour.

  46. Val says:

    The education system isn’t improving; it’s deteriorating. It won’t turn around until the system abandons ideological indoctrination and, instead, returns to substantive teaching – of knowledge and critical thinking. The latter are often incompatible with ideology. That’s precisely why this system, which operates in an ivory tower at the public’s expense, ignores those essentials.

    https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2014/09/geoffrey/

    The disconnect between substantive education and the ideological indoctrination that currently prevails is, per the title of this article, well illustrated here:

    https://youtu.be/iKcWu0tsiZM

    We certainly won’t buy our way out of this mess. The required transformation will occur only through a lobotomy of the entrenched management of a system that now serves its interests– not those of the public.

  47. . says:

    Even more intriguing is the fact that the ACU conducted the research. There are approximately 1600 public servants in the Federal Department of Education and Training and about 99,000 in the NSW Department of Education, 30% of which are non-teachers. Surely this massive ‘overhead’ should be capable of assessing the classroom situation without the ACU’s assistance.

    Surely we can let principals run their schools and sack 100,600 useless public servants.

    This is the real reason the left oppose charter schools. They want their sinecures.

  48. Jim says:

    According to PISA, Australia’s education performance has been clearly trending down since 2000 in the 3 key measurement areas.

    The PISA scores for each country are scaled to the OECD average (500 in each year of reporting). Australia has been in relative decline when compared to the OECD average. This is true. But it doesn’t mean we are going backwards in absolute terms. Perhaps the rest of the OECD is playing catch-up.

    Public education in Australia could be a lot better than it is, and is largely captured by the self interests of teachers and the latest tree for administrators. That is why I send my child to a private school. It is simple risk management against a flakey public system.

  49. Tator says:

    Just looking at the dates and correlating them with who was in power at the state level probably explains it all. As the ALP were in power across the nation between 2002 and 2008, they held total control over the schooling in public schools.
    I also can show during a similar period but extended from 1999 to 2012:

    the actual primary AGSRC amount increased by 115.2 per cent from $4674 to $10 057 per
    student, reflecting an annual average growth rate of 6.1 per cent

    the actual secondary AGSRC amount increased by 97.7
    per cent from $6294 to $12445 per
    student, reflecting an annual average growth rate of 5.4 per cent and

    the weighted average AGSRC (primary and secondary combined) increased by 107.2 per cent
    from $5305 to $10 992, reflecting an average annual growth rate of 5.8 per cent.
    After adjusting for inflation, the increases are significantly less:

    the real primary AGSRC amount increased by 33.4 per cent, with an annual average growth rate
    of 2.2 per cent

    the real secondary AGSRC amount increased by 22.6 per cent, with an annual average growth
    rate of 1.6 per cent and

    the weighted average AGSRC (primary and secondary combined) in real terms increased by 28.5
    per cent, with an average annual increase of 1.9 per cent.

    So it is not funding that is an issue as it has been growing faster than inflation for that 13 year period.

    So the real question to be asked should be “As funding has increased in real terms by 28.5% over that 13 year period, why have PISA results gone downwards because you are getting more funding in real terms every year?”
    It must be approaching the zone of diminishing returns with such increases.

  50. Tator says:

    The APH report I got that AGSRC data from also states:
    According to the report of the Review of Funding for Schooling Report (the Gonski Report), AGSRC
    growth is mostly driven by teacher-related expenses. These expenses contributed about 60 per cent
    of the AGSRC increase between 2001 and 2011. Administrative staff expenses contributed about 20per
    cent of the increase for the primary AGSRC amount and 16 per cent for the secondary AGSRC
    amount. According to the Gonski Report, most of these increases are attributable to wages growth and
    changes in student-to-staff ratios. From 2001 to 2011, wages growth reflected the 51 per cent
    increase in the ABS Labour Price Index for public sector education and training; 12 per cent from a
    fall in the aggregate student-to-teacher ratio; and the remaining one-fifth of the increase in teacher
    expenses is unexplained.

    So Gonski basically supports your theorum that any increases in education funding is for the benefit of those running the education system and not for resources for the students etc.

  51. . says:

    Well put tator. A brilliant foil to the PS unionists who resist any funding cuts.

  52. . says:

    In all seriousness though tator that could be because of background.

    More broken homes will usually result in poorer scholastic performance.

  53. Struth says:

    I think I have said it enough.
    Here is our key problem.
    Our kids aren’t being taught anything except how to be radical Marxists and socialists.
    English is…..
    Write an essay on global warming and what you can do to change it.
    Maths is…..
    If just one corporate business man was made to give a million dollars of his stolen wealth from the aboriginals, back to them and he gave each one , one hundred thousand dollars,how many aboriginals could finally feed and cloth themselves?

    Chemistry is…..
    This is milk weed.
    The properties in this were believed to cure lots of ailments , by aborigines.
    Discuss.

    You get the point.
    Whatever curriculum you put in place will be corrupted by those operating it.
    It can only be solved by pulling the vicious, cowardly, traitorous, enelected, feminazis, slime from their offices at the top of the education bureaucracy and as they scream blue murder and fight and hiss like cats, be resolute in doing so.
    Whatever system you put in place, the march through this institution, will ensure failure.
    They must be exposed.
    What they are doing is nothing short of child abuse.
    They are at war with western capitalism, and we must realise this.
    When we start fighting the unelected filth and exposing their white anting of our successful culture, then we understand who our enemies are.
    They are embedded in most of our institutions, but especially in education.
    The war against us, is being waged by education unions and bureaucrats and we are paying them to do it.

  54. Muddy says:

    Two quick thoughts:
    Now I am not an education expert.
    How do we define ‘expert’ in terms of education? What are the benchmarks and standards applied to the work of ‘education experts?’

    There is a difference between education and schooling. We haven’t had education in this country for I don’t know how many decades. Schooling is not about the individual, it is about grooming them to perform certain roles in society, including embracing the dominant ideology. The role of schooling is to ensure conformity. We have schooling, not education.

    Kudos for the post.

  55. Jeremy says:

    Solutions-
    1. Remove all government funding for education.
    2. Return the money and the choice to taxpayers.
    3. Establish Government or industry funded testing and accreditation bodies.
    This will break the nexus between training and approval.
    Training bodies will Gasp! Horror! have to teach to the test.
    Many current educational facilities would be shown to be completely irrelevant and of the ones left, genuine comparison would be available between results against the same tests.
    Study courses not aimed at specific technical skills are irrelevant to the government and can be tested by anybody.

  56. old bloke says:

    Thank you Spartacus, that was a well argued case, though I do believe there should be a national agreement on the educational basics. This isn’t an argument for an over-blown Federal Department of Education, the basics could be agreed by the State Education Ministers, and the Federal component would be limited to a small secretariat to facilitate the national educational policies.

    Australia has a fairly mobile workforce, so many families are required to relocate to other States and Territories during their children’s school years. Speaking from personal experience, I have five children who have received their education in Sydney, Canberra and Perth over many years. It would be much easier for children who moved interstate if they could continue their education without major disruptions.

    Another problem I encountered was the starting age for school enrolments. I have had children repeat a year at school as the school administrator wanted them in age appropriate classes as that particular State started school enrolments a year later than the State the children moved from, this was quite disheartening for the children.

  57. old bloke says:

    Is it possible that the never ending increases of public funding into education is much like pouring more and more water into a bucket which has ever numerous holes?

    We should take Finland as a model. The Fins have the highest OECD educational outcomes, and they even outperform Japan and South Korea who are miles in front of the other western nations, yet the Fins:

    . spend only a fraction of the amount Australia spends on a per pupil basis
    . have much larger class sizes than Australian schools (thus demolishing the more teachers to students ratio = better outcomes argument)
    . focus on the basics, i.e., education not indoctrination
    . teachers are expected to dress well and act professionally, and they are respected accordingly by their community. No jeans and T-shirts attire, no first-name familiarisation with the pupils.

  58. Struth says:

    Good work Jeremy.
    We will never win while public servants actually teach.
    People paying for their children’s education directly, will see them take more of an interest in where and how their money is being spent.
    Government only needed to make sure national education standards are met, ie set government exams.
    Just like learning to drive.
    The best outcomes are that the schooling is done by a private trainer and the test by the government.
    The trainer should never be the assessor anyway as that is open to corruption.
    Just imagine, young people being educated with competition between the educators as incentive.
    Too easy.
    And the government is more easily accountable into the education standards it is setting.
    Can somebody tell me where Jeremy’s solution falls down?
    Nowhere.

  59. Val says:

    Robber Baron
    #1885664, posted on December 12, 2015 at 3:06 am

    “The feminists have ruined everything!”

    Feminism is symptomatic of a wider problem, the education system’s focus on social ideology. That’s what they do – because that’s all those in this system can do.

    The education system won’t turn around until it has been refreshed with a different culture, one which can and will abandon ideological indoctrination and, instead, return to substantive teaching – of knowledge and critical thinking (rubrics which just happen to be incompatible with ideology). That’s precisely why those essentials are ignored – by a system that operates in an ivory tower at the public’s expense.

    https://quadrant.org.au/opinion/doomed-planet/2014/09/geoffrey/

    The disconnect between real education that is necessary to make Australia competitive vs the ideological indoctrination that currently prevails is (per this article’s title), illustrated lucidly here:

    https://youtu.be/iKcWu0tsiZM

    We cannot buy our way out of this mess. The transformation necessary will require
    a lobotomy of the entrenched management – of a system that now serves its interest,
    not those of the public.

  60. SpeedofLife says:

    State-provided education is about teaching conformity and compliance. Education is a pretext to ensure parents happily send their kids off to school every day. Keeping it ‘free’ means that even those who question the system will usually still continue to send their kids to school. Certainly, school kills creativity. This is a feature, not a bug. Credentialism and rigid regulation ensures that schools cannot offer any alternative systems, even if parents might want them. I haven’t heard about any democratic schools here in Australia – the curriculum and regulation is far too rigid. That’s not an accident either, any deviation from the strictly regulated format and curriculum would only encourage free and independent thinkers. The system is further entrenched by the benefits it offers to education academics and bureaucrats, as in the original post, meaning it’s highly unlikely to change for the better.

  61. Bill Griffiths says:

    Before we get carried away with the idea of a standards basis for school education, have a look at the Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS). You will see how education bureaucrats can turn this simple and worthy idea into meaningless gobbledook. The VELS can be found on the website of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). Victoria did have, under the Kennett government a world leading system of accountability for government schools. It has, under pressure from the teacher unions and others, now been watered down beyond recognition.

  62. . says:

    “Establish government testing centres”

    Please don’t.

  63. . says:

    old bloke is right. The metrics prove this is right.

    The only flaw is state funding and ownership.

    A key feature of the Finnish system is the same teacher all the way through from K-10.

    After that, school splits into pre trade and pre university.

  64. Stimpson J. Cat says:

    Ah Henry.
    The principal’s belt.
    My arch nemesis in primary school.
    Good times.

  65. Sydney Boy says:

    Can somebody tell me where Jeremy’s solution falls down?
    Nowhere.

    How about:
    “Why should I pay to educate my kids? That’s the government’s responsibility.” – from the same people who believe the government should control every facet of their lives.

    Any government would have great difficulty in making education standards compulsory and making people pay for it. Truancy rates are already high in many communities, and we are all well aware of kids who somehow manage to pass school without being able to read or write. Shit parents (1/4 of the population?) just won’t bother paying and thus we will have an even larger uneducated and unemployable underclass.

  66. . says:

    I can’t believe people want government mandated standards in the same breath as they talk about a biased agenda in the state designed curriculum!

  67. Robin says:

    All these references to emulating the Finns again do not understand what PISA measures or the true nature of the Finn education system. This covered it. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/sculpting-the-inner-eyes-that-guide-what-real-eyes-perceive-from-daily-experiences/

    Also chilling is the communitarian ramifications of what is known as the Finnish Ladder of Cooperation for schoolchildren. It creates attitudes and values that earn high marks on PISA, but few parents in Australia, Canada, or the US would want their child to be conditioned too.

    Love the apologist for Ken Robinson who says we mustn’t take him at his word in his lectures or his books on his purposes. Apparently he is a totem of some sort then and not an adult education expert worth deferring to. Really, you cannot have it both ways.

  68. Top Ender says:

    Still have my teacher registration despite not having taught in the system for some years. It was fun, but being a large white male and not scared of the kids, I survived. A couple of observations:

    – poor classroom behaviour drives more teachers out of the system than it should.

    – children are not held accountable to any education measure. If they are no good at reading in year 5, they simply get passed on to year 6.

    Two further observations on the above.

    The child-centred teaching model trains teachers to believe that all children can be reasoned with, and have a good nature. So they do not confront bad behaviour; do not challenge it, and it becomes their nightmare. I was luckily taught by a small female senior teacher who told me to throw what I had learnt at uni out of the window, and listen to her. She was a better classroom manager than most lion tamers.

    Passing students on to the next grade before they are equipped for it is madness. But again it is tied up with the left-wing model that says students’ self-esteem should not be damaged. Which is strange, as your self-esteem takes a hell of a battering when you fail to win or keep job after job because you’re functionally illiterate.

    Solve those two problems and the PISA scores will start going up.

  69. Sydney Boy says:

    Well said Top Ender.

    The other issue is awards for everything. I attended an end-of-school presentation recently and a student was awarded “Best indigenous student”. There was no award for best white student. Or best asian student. Why not cut to the chase and just give every indigenous (including those claiming to be indigenous) student an award just for being there?

  70. Struth says:

    There are some things the government, as representing the Australian people , should do , Dot.
    The Australian people setting standards of education, to grade students taught by the private sector, is the only way.
    When the private sector gets to test its own students, there is no standard.
    This is happening all the time within vocational training.
    Even though the standards are set, the corrupt trainers fail no one, as they do the testing.
    The disaster that occurred in South Australia and Victoria saw great numbers of privately taught b double drivers getting assessed by the same mob.
    They could hardly steer straight, and many towel heads with no English are now driving 7o tonnes of truck towards you at 100k an hour.
    These outfits got the business because the students knew they would pass.
    This is no different to formal education.
    And it is not up to other people to pay for your spawn’s education.
    Jeremy’s solution is practical.
    I grant you, it will never be implemented in this socialist shit hole, but it would fix many of the problems.

  71. Infidel Tiger says:

    The government should have no role whatsoever in education.

    It is a private concern to be arranged between parents and teachers.

  72. Infidel Tiger says:

    There are some things the government, as representing the Australian people , should do , Dot.
    The Australian people setting standards of education, to grade students taught by the private sector, is the only way.
    When the private sector gets to test its own students, there is no standard.

    This is absolute rot. If private schools and parents could set the curriculum there would be competition to achieve the best results.

    Have you ever known government to be world’s best practice at anything except waste?

  73. Top Ender says:

    True, Sydney Boy.

    A workmate of mine was told to stop using red pen on essays.

    It was too much of an affront to the students who weren’t doing well. A sort of variation on “every child wins prize.”

    Speaking of indigenous, you should see some of the well-meaning teacher aides who work in “homework centres” which are exclusively aboriginal. They write the essays for the students who are spending time gossiping or playing “educational games” on the school computers.

  74. vlad says:

    The whole Gonski thing was obvious rubbish (to me) because all one ever heard about – all it was ever about – was how to fund schools, and none of it – ever – was about what schools are for or what we want them to achieve.

    If it were possible to fail Year 12, eg, that would be a start.

  75. . says:

    Infidel Tiger
    #1886677, posted on December 13, 2015 at 2:11 pm
    There are some things the government, as representing the Australian people , should do , Dot.
    The Australian people setting standards of education, to grade students taught by the private sector, is the only way.
    When the private sector gets to test its own students, there is no standard.

    This is absolute rot. If private schools and parents could set the curriculum there would be competition to achieve the best results.

    Have you ever known government to be world’s best practice at anything except waste?

    Yes it is absolute rot. The standards in Britain are farmed out to universities, not privatised as such but they are more flexible. These are done so to please Oxford and Cambridge which run some of the proctoring boards. Cambridge offers the A level privately with a third party.

    As are the ongoing and mindless attacks on Sir Ken Robinson.

    Co-operation is bad? Competition is merely cooperation with blinkers.

    Co-operation isn’t communism (nor is communalism necessarily Marxist or Saint Simonist) and I’m not going to employ anyone who is an uncooperative person.

    Struth
    #1886643, posted on December 13, 2015 at 1:21 pm
    There are some things the government, as representing the Australian people , should do , Dot.
    The Australian people setting standards of education, to grade students taught by the private sector, is the only way.
    When the private sector gets to test its own students, there is no standard.
    This is happening all the time within vocational training.
    Even though the standards are set, the corrupt trainers fail no one, as they do the testing.

    WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

    The standards are set by the state.

    “Industry Skills Councils” are government mandated.

    I did a published research paper once on HR/labour economics: large Australian firms (like Woolies) use non-nationally recognised training over the glorious “NRT” because NRT is inflexible and it is crap!

  76. . says:

    Can we stop whinging about leftism in standards?

    I have gone through a business school ignoring this shit and refusing to tow the line and I got excellent grades. I am going through law school and getting a good GPA and just ignoring the leftist crap that every uni ritually shoves into their courses.

    With kids it is detestable but adults should be able to tell when someone is pulling the wool over their eyes. If they can’t, they probably don’t have the background to go to uni: re poor high school performance, or a totally compromised secondary education system.

    I take particular offence to Robin implying the IB is some sort of left wing plot.

    Just take note of Illich, Robinson and Gatto.

    School is not education. It never was and it never will be.

  77. Beth says:

    I would like to make some comments, as a retired teacher.

    I think all schools should be private and non-denominational, with student vouchers issued by the government. This would ensure that failing schools close when they don’t provide what they are paid to do. Being non- denominational ensures that students of all religions mix together, thus increasing social harmony.

    Also all schools should have multi-level classes, where students are in classes according to their ability, not their age. This system is being used in some schools, but whenever I have brought it up in schools I have taught in, I have been told that it couldn’t be done because of time tabling. Talk about schools being run for the adults, not the children!

    I think students should have to repeat a year level if they do not reach the standard required to move up. The explanation given for this not occurring is that it is for social reasons. However, a student feeling uncomfortable about not moving up is dwarfed by not being able to cope from then on. Not giving a student the tools to succeed and then forcing him/her to come to school and fail, year after year, is one of the worst forms of child abuse, let alone cruelling any chance of a decent job because of a lack of literacy and numeracy skills. Yet some schools put blockages in place when parents insist on their child having to repeat a year. One case I know of had a parent having to get a letter from the local MP and others having to attend endless meetings and counselling sessions.

    Apart from the above, I think education is going to be “übered.” The industrial “factory” model does not work in the age of innovation. We need a complete rethink. There are some signs, such as introducing coding, but a lot more needs to be done, such as the P-Tech model from the U.S. and online teaching.

  78. . says:

    Beth

    The Catholic schools I went to admitted all sorts. As long as the parents did not object to attendance (and not participation) in school masses, there was no problem.

    All we HAD to sing was the school song at the end of mass.

  79. . says:

    Beth

    I greatly admire Ken Robinsion, Ivan Illich and John Taylor Gatto.

    What is your opinion of these great authors and educators?

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