As ever, term will end and the usual comments about teachers’ excessive holidays will pepper the media, barbeque conversations and commentary between “experts” shared with anyone who will listen.

As I have stated before, schools make popular media copy and an easy target for negative comment. Whether it be funding programs, comparative results, presumed failures and the growing demands for schools to respond to and cure the growing list of societal ills. Little goes uncommented upon.

Sunday morning ABC News. A senator attacks the proposed new school funding model because the increases in education funding over the past years have only seen educational results go “backwards”.

 

Friday Newspaper. Australia has been ranked 39 out of 41 high- and middle-income countries in achieving quality education, in the latest international report to find that the country is falling behind in basic measures of teaching and learning. Only Romania and Turkey were ranked below Australia in education in the latest United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report card. The report looks at the performance of 15-year-olds in reading, maths and science, as well as the quality and level of access to early schooling, in 41 European Union and OECD countries. The report found that only 71.7 per cent of Australian 15-year-olds are achieving baseline standards in the three key areas of education, based on the latest PISA assessment, and only 80.3 per cent of children are attending “organised preschool learning” for at least a year, according to 2014 figures. SMH, June 16 2017.

 

Sunday Newspaper. More complaints about out of control classrooms. Twitter responses include:

  • Stems from kindy. Teachers are not allowed to tell kids off if they are playing up. If Johnny is whacking Jane, Johnny is politely moved to another space and well, that’s it. No punishment, no telling off, no removal of privilege… We’re doomed!
  • Easy solution – immediately remove them from class, phone the parents and suspend them (and the parents) for a week. Expel repeat offenders.
  • We are now seeing the effects of an education system which has been hijacked by the regressive left. The nation now has youth which is becoming unemployable, a spiralling welfare bill and an expansion of correctional services.
  • I know how it plays out have seen it before many times. Mummy writes to headmaster asking for little Jane not to have that teacher as he/she is mean and little Jane is a sensitive child and won’t be able to cope. It’s news to mum that little Jane is actually a monster who needs mean teacher to pull her into line! 

The media fans generalisations, unfounded accusations, formless opinions and delights in reporting on the demise of education in Australia.

Generalisation, noun

  • a general statement or concept obtained by inference from specific cases.

             For example “He was making sweeping generalisations”

According to the current generalisations about our schools and pupils:

  • All teachers are lazy, entitled or ineffective.
  • All our students are less educated than their overseas counterparts.
  • All our students are afraid of effort.
  • All our schools are failing.

Our SCAS voice will never have the volume and reach of the shock-jocks, journalists, columnists and “experts”. Any answers we have or explanations and requests for informed debate do not make “good copy”.

In this forum, let me be self-indulgent enough to speak for our school community:

  • Our teachers are amazing! On a daily basis they confront issues, support students and work to evolve their teaching strategies to ensure that our students are well prepared for a life outside school. They often arrive at school in the dark to lead excursions or sporting trips, they return close to midnight and still turn up enthusiastic and prepared to teach next morning. They coach, mentor, support and teach during term time, run catch-up classes and extra learning experiences in the “holidays” and answer emails, mark and plan late into the night. And their “holidays”, when they get to take them are at high tariff and high traffic times.
  • I will not argue the PISA statistics that seem to damn Australian students. What I will say is that a deeper study of the statistics show that independent schools, like ours, actually score at the highest level on the international scale. Exceptional NAPLAN results (without the media fed high stress claims), wonderful HSC results (best regional school in NSW?) and outstanding tertiary entrance statistics tell a different story to the headlines.
  • SCAS students have obviously not become aware that they, as Australian students, will not attempt high demand subjects, including the sciences and mathematics. In fact, it is more common for staff to have to temper the enthusiasm of some of our students who seek to do more than the necessary number of subjects for the HSC, select more than one subject with the load of a “major project” or who manage to combine a rigorous academic program with sports representation, cultural participation and part-time employment. How lazy!
  • SCAS is not perfect. We know this because we always find things we can do better and ways to improve our performance. We will not (in fact it is likely we cannot) allow any kind of smugness to cause us to rest on our laurels and risk short-changing ourselves and our society by failing to address the need for our school to evolve to meet the current and future needs of our students.

I apologise if my tone seems defensive or self-serving but sometimes hearing and reading tales of our failure and lack of professional integrity rile me and this blog lets me get it out.

Now (deep breath), back to working with SCAS’ great staff and students to do what we were set up to do: Offer our students a great World of Opportunities.

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do,  and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3