THIS was always going to be a big year in education and it doesn’t get much bigger than the release of the report of the Review of Funding for Schooling, known as the Gonski review. We’ve had reviews and reports before but this one has changed the debate, perhaps forever.
Gonski’s release hasn’t been the only news about schools so far this year. We had a panic over NAPLAN (the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy) in January, with various players distributing explanations, alarm and blame for our apparent lack of progress. Then, on the first day of school, the Australian ran coverage of a leaked report on public education by Richard Teese, commissioned by all state and territory governments except New South Wales, which showed a growing gap between students from different backgrounds. The fact that this report was kept secret by the states raises questions about their stewardship of public education in Australia.
Then along came a nicely timed OECD report on equity and quality in education, which had the effect of supporting Gonski’s focus on similar themes. This was followed by a Grattan Institute report that tried to shift the focus back onto what schools were doing right and wrong, pointing to better student test scores in parts of Asia. Perhaps this wasn’t an attempt to “shanghai” the debate about schools, but Four Corners picked up similar themes at around the same time.
Finally, towards the end of February, came the release of the Gonski recommendations, accompanied by a flurry of coverage cut short by Labor’s leadership circus. It was hardly surprising that few even noticed the release of My School version 3.0 on 24 February…
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