So there’s a new Bill?

Tonight my twitter feed is flowing fast as the Australian Political leadership contest is played out in front of our eyes. Lost in those feeds is the news that the Australian Education Bill 2013 was passed in the senate.  What this means in the political future, it seems no one can predict, but it shouldn’t make it any less important.

I don’t pretend to understand politics and in fact my knowledge of how a bill is passed comes from visiting Parliament House with my students. But I do know education.  And I think it is really important to read through the Education Bill, to have some understanding of the direction our Government is heading in regards to education, because the objects of this Act will effect educators and the students we teach.

You may be easily mistaken after the hype from the media to think that this Bill is just about Gonski but it is more than that.  Don’t get me wrong I think the most positive aspect to come from this Bill is a more equitable approach to school funding and a more fair and effective system.

There are other postive aspects to the Bill as it  talks often about about individual students and meeting student needs. Both good things to be talking about. But on the other hand “high quality” and “equitable” are spoken of in terms of where we sit in the education league tables and that we are in the top 5 performing countries by the year 2025.  And most alarming to me is that “Data collected on schools and school students will:

(a) be of a higher quality; and
(b) contain more detail; and
(c) be more consistent; and
(d) be more available to the public;
than data currently collected on schools and school students.”

Sounds like more NAPLAN to me.

Another thing to consider is the Bill also implements the National Plan for School Improvement.  Once again there are many aspects of this plan which I am happy to see.  A look into vocational education, strengthening of community relationships, more support for graduate teachers, varied admission to university courses, more training for leaders. But the use of words such as ‘best and brightest’, ‘lift results’ and ‘left behind’ worry me greatly.

And there is more that scares me; a rigid curriculum, literacy and numeracy tests before teachers can graduate, data about school performance, more information in my school website, teachers receiving a review.  There is a lot of policy being ‘done to teachers and students.’

So please take the time to read these documents, talk about them in your staff room and think about our future of education.