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Gonski review reveals another grand plan to overhaul education: but do we really need it?

Glenn C. Savage writes in The Conversation (30.4.18) that the recently released Gonski 2.0 report focuses on overhauling core aspects of curriculum and reporting, and proposes a move away from the ‘industrial model’ of education towards individualisation.

‘Today’s release of the report from the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools (also known as Gonski 2.0) proves sceptics both right and wrong. In many ways, the report reflects a smorgasbord of popular ideas that have been doing the rounds for some time.

‘These include Professor John Hattie’s mantra that young people should gain “a year of learning growth from a year of schooling”, along with other claims about the importance of quality teachers, early years learning and school leadership.

‘One could be forgiven for seeing these arguments as yawn-worthy: not because they’re wrong, but because they have been repeated ad nauseum.

‘Despite this, the report is also deeply radical in scope and vision, especially in its focus on overhauling core aspects of curriculum, assessment and reporting.

‘In doing so, it places significant faith in the power of data, evidence, technology and personalisation of learning to drive improvement, and help the nation cast off the shackles of its “industrial model” of schooling.

‘… Ultimately, the whole Gonski debate started with money, and that may very well be where it ends. The federal funding of schools will be a crucial tool in Birmingham’s bargaining kit and will largely determine whether the report’s recommendations come to fruition.’

An end to the industrial model of schooling?

TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, Dean Ashenden, writes in Inside Story (4.5.18) that the latest Gonski report points a way to the future of school reform, but has not broken with its ‘disastrous’ past.

‘In a few words, the story so far. The first Gonski review proposed “needs-based, sector-blind” schools funding. The schools doing the hardest educational yards would get extra resources so they could lift academic performance and so reduce inequality. National and international test results plus the MySchool website would make them accountable.

‘But were they capable? Would all that extra money disappear in the black hole of schooling? The questions were asked of the first Gonski’s sponsor, Julia Gillard, who came up with the risible idea that every school would have to submit a performance plan for approval. When the Coalition, via education minister Simon Birmingham, abruptly switched from opposing Gonski to embracing it, the are-we-wasting-all-that-money question became Mr Birmingham’s to answer. His response was to recall David Gonski and ask him to “examine the evidence and make recommendations on the most effective teaching and learning strategies.”

‘Gonski and his colleagues set to work in August 2017 and sent their report to the minister in late March. It was released to the public at the beginning of this week.’

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