Amidst news of the tragic death of Australian servicemen, worries about the economy and concerns about firearms in Sydney, it has to be a great day when our national government calls a halt to bad news and focuses attention upon a positive goal: improving our children’s education.

Sorry kids, you're too old for these goals. Picture: Ray Strange

The old Australian value of the “fair go” is at the root of many of the recommendations of the Gonski review. The basic idea is that every child should have the opportunity to develop according to their abilities and not their parents’ financial circumstances.

The Prime Minister’s response deserves praise for strongly supporting that value. She recalled some less successful students at her old high school, some no doubt from disadvantaged backgrounds being called “vegies”.

More recently in the course of a NSW inquiry that took me to over 200 public schools I met students who described their schools as “povo”. They lacked the up-to-date equipment and facilities that they knew to be available in better funded schools.

Gonski provided pathways for creating a more even playing field.

One understands that the Prime Minister needs to keep her ammunition dry for negotiations with the states, however the means to be employed under her scheme remains shadowy.

The whole scheme would have seemed more tangible if it were planned to implement the recommended additional $6.5 billion in funding in shorter time.

I agree with Julia Gillard’s emphasis on the need for more practice experience and preparation for classroom management while students are in training for their role.

At the same time her focus on the important numeracy and literacy skills to the exclusion of more creative and reflective subjects and pursuits will continue to frustrate many students and their teachers. Not everything that is important in a young person’s education is reducible to scores on standard tests.

A great deal of the unevenness in what we conveniently call school performance is really due to variations in family educational backgrounds.

As a one-time head of the state’s correctional system I find it tragic that in disadvantaged areas one meets pre-schoolers whose backgrounds are so under-stimulating that they are set to experience school failure and discouragement and finish up in one or another of our institutions.

I felt there was an under-current to the PM’s speech of teachers being totally responsible for a school’s performance, when research shows major improvements in the academic skills of socially advantaged children peaking after holidays in the company of educated parents.

And because a bad start can cast a very long shadow the first priority needs to be narrowing the gap between disadvantaged and advantaged pupils at the outset and while the government is taking steps in that direction there is much scope for further improvement.

I would have liked to hear that acknowledged as part of the grand plan.

Meanwhile, because education is one of those fields in which there will never be a `D Day,’ of course teachers need to be life-long learners with real resources devoted to their continuous professional development.

Finally, the community owes a debt of gratitude to the educational warriors who have kept the issue of school funding on the political agenda.

Let us celebrate the over-whelming majority of teachers whose devotion to their duties marks them as being among the highest contributors to social wellbeing.
Tony Vinson was head of the landmark Vinson inquiry into the NSW education system.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEST.

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    • acotrel says:

      06:07am | 04/09/12

      Our educators should try benchmarking against Melbourne Boys High School, and Macrobertson Girls High School.  At Melbourne High in 1960, class sizes were typically 45.  In a sixth form of 300 boys, 90 became doctors, and most of the rest of us ended up in professions - mainly science and engineering with some solicitors, accountants and politicians.
      ’ Honour The Work ’ ! - Get your heads down and your arses up !

    • dovif says:

      07:46am | 04/09/12


      Are you channelling Rinehart at the moment, I seem to be hearing that the people not at those school are lazy?

      I do believe schools like Melboune Boys high and Macrobertson Girls high and Sydney Grammar, Sydney Boys and James Ruse Agricultural school should exist. However there are a lot of schools in Sydney and Melbourne whose more gifted student are bullied for being smarter, which no amount of money will solve

    • Get rid of both parties says:

      08:42am | 04/09/12

      When I left Uni, the people that couldn’t get a job ended up teaching in private schools.

      It’s the students that are the defining factor. It’s not hard to teach 45 kids who want to learn, who come from functioning families with a good work and discipline ethos. The flip side of that is very different.

      Go and have a look at a dysfunctional school and see if even 20 kids is nearly possible.

      Some people, especially our politicians just live in gah gah land.

      Labor, once again tackling the wrong problem.

    • Jeannie says:

      09:13am | 04/09/12

      Surely this highlights the role that parents have in the educational outcomes of our children.  Parents need to give their kids a determination and vision to succeed. They need to take responsibility for the ‘big picture’ stuff that drives a kid to do well. The other importan chane in this era is the fear of using negative motivators to push kids. not long ago students were motivated by a fear of poverty or horrible jobs, now mum and dad (and schools ) protect kids from feeling the ‘pain” that should generate energy to take life ‘by the horns ’ and make something good out of it.

    • Alan says:

      10:32am | 04/09/12

      I also went to school in Melbourne and rememeber melbourne Boys High School well as a bunch of upper class twits. Sure some of them went on to have professions but a lot ended up in gaol as well.

    • Alan says:

      10:33am | 04/09/12

      I also went to school in Melbourne and remember Melbourne Boys High School well as a bunch of upper class twits. Sure some of them went on to have professions but a lot ended up in gaol as well.

    • Little Joe says:

      10:53am | 04/09/12

      Yes Alan,

      Both Melboune Boys high and Macrobertson Girls High are upper class public schools. Check out the Macrobertson Girls High who describe themselves as a highly exclusive academically selective, public high school for girls.’_High_School

      Children who attend the school usually have to sit an entrance exam and the school is often used by the wealthy who want to save $15K/year on schooling their children so that they can go on an extra annual overseas holiday.

      Acotel ..... not too many ‘problem children’ attend these schools.

    • Bertrand says:

      06:56am | 04/09/12

      Like most debates this one has become increasingly polarised, to the detriment of our education system.

      There is no doubt that good and effective teachers play an important role in student outcomes. Further, there is no doubt that the teachers’ union, like many unions, effectively supports the least efficient and effective workers, through its support of an awards system that pays teachers according to years served and not according to their contribution to the school they work in.

      However, teachers are not the most important thing when it comes to student outcomes. What they are, is the most important thing in a school environment. A student’s background, family situation, intellectual ability and personal attitudes towards education have all been proven to be more significant when it comes to their educational outcomes. Further, a teacher’s contribution at a school may be strictly academic - improving the literacy or numeracy of the student body, or it may be a bit more nuanced - for example being the teacher that all of the socially disadvantaged kids turn to for emotional support, or the creative teacher who spends every spare minute taking extra-curricular cultural activities. It could be the teacher who thoroughly understands curriculum and assessment practices and contributes huge amounts to the school in terms of providing support to the other teachers in this area.

      I fully support performance based pay for teachers, but the system would need to be one that assesses teacher performance over a wife variety of metrics, which recognises the particular strengths of individual teachers and matches those strengths with the particular needs of individual schools. It would see a teacher with a strength in a particular area paid more money to work in a disadvantaged school that required improvements in that teachers area of specialisation. It would use data to assess whether that teacher is making improvements in the area they are being paid to improve. It would ensure that the lazy teachers and ineffective teachers were quickly removed from the system.

      I can’t see this happening, as it would take effort. Performance based pay will be introduced, but it will be based on lazy black-and-white considerations of Naplan results and little else. This will only serve to drive good teachers out of the system, as they will recognise how flawed it is and how undervalued their contributions area.

      At the same time, what is being done to change the cultural attitudes towards education that are reducing so many kids’ ability to have the motivation or tools to succeed in the first place?

    • dovfi says:

      07:54am | 04/09/12

      I completely agree, in my opinion, a lot of children in non-selective schools get held back because of their teachers and their classmates.

      A large part of this problem lies in the education union and the grading of teachers.

      If we can create an environment of selective public school, where the most gifted children from any background are taught by the most gifted of teacher, that is the best way to eliminate the selective school bias.

      There are some kids out there that just does not want to go to school and does not want to learn, and they do a lot of damage to the education of other more gifted kids.

      If we group different kids together, we can specifically design school, which caters for the specific child, for example, school that specialises in sport or trades can be set up for kids, who are not strong in maths and English

    • jade (the other one) says:

      08:54am | 04/09/12

      Bertrand, I think what you are proposing would have far greater positive implications for teachers and teaching than you have highlighted. One of the benefits to such a system is that disadvantaged schools would no longer be staffed almost exclusively with inexperienced first year teachers. Additionally, where parents and students know that these teachers are identified as having particular strengths or qualities, the perception of teachers would perhaps become more positive over time.

    • TracyH says:

      10:47am | 04/09/12


    • simonfromlakemba says:

      12:50pm | 04/09/12

      Great in theory but whether it would work i’m not too sure.

      Could you see a teacher raised in Bondi teaching at Punchbowl Boys High or Alma in Broken Hill, no matter how much you pay.

    • Mick S says:

      07:32am | 04/09/12

      Simple really.
      We cannot afford to spend money on our children’s education, particularly for leftist rubbish like equity.
      Same as we can’t afford to help the disabled.
      We can afford to scrap the mining tax.
      Simple matter of priorities, and knowing who to look after isn’t it.

    • Get rid of both parties says:

      08:48am | 04/09/12

      ............“particularly for leftist rubbish like equity”...........

      When you say equity, do you mean that I work and pay taxes to fund schemes for those that don’t? Is that a left definition of equity?

    • Satan says:

      09:42am | 04/09/12

      Even for a righty that’s iditiotic. We have no money for essential services but we can afford a tax cut for Gina and her cohorts!?

    • Satan says:

      09:43am | 04/09/12

      Even for a righty that’s iditiotic. We have no money for essential services but we can afford a tax cut for Gina and her cohorts!? Actually I’m mistaken, it’s on msg, but idiotic!

    • little annie says:

      09:47am | 04/09/12

      more spin from our leader and do you know the top five countries in the education stakes of maths science etc are all mono cuture countries! it surprised me ala South Korea, Finland, Japan etc. Please dont get racist its fact, what it means i’m not sure.

    • glenm says:

      01:47pm | 04/09/12

      @Mick, just where is this magic funding pudding that you speak of?
      NDIS , Education, Dental scheme? No funds just empty promises to lure the uneducated into once again voting for the labor party.

    • Ray says:

      07:39am | 04/09/12

      The problem with the Gonski report is that it does not address the most glaring deficiency of the education system. That being the lopsided outcomes that favour girls above boys. The most disturbing aspect of this situation being that that desired outcome was an is the intention.

      Of course when boys supposedly outperformed girls (falicy) it was the fault of the system. When girls out perform boys it’s the boys’ fault.

      This reeks of form reversal of our contention that Muslim countries treat their women badly.

      Not one politician has the fortitude to address this discrimination and see it through. Our sons are being sold out and our potential is compromidsed.

    • Al says:

      08:35am | 04/09/12

      Ray: “lopsided outcomes that favour girls above boys”
      What specificly?
      I know it has been a while since I went to school, but I never noticed any outcomes that favoured one sex over the other. I will admit the majority who were near the top of classes were female, but I also know the top students in every subject were all male (yes, including the ‘girly’ subjects like what used to be known as Home Economics and Textiles and Design and (too some people) the Art subjects like Music, Visual Arts, I think they are called something else now).
      Please, I would like specific examples so that the issues, if they actualy exist, can then be raised and (hopefully) addressed.

    • marley says:

      08:40am | 04/09/12

      My own theory is that the love of learning is instilled by parents, not by schools.  Once that love is there, kids will learn and all the teachers have to do is point the way. Boys may have a bit more trouble sitting still than girls, but that was the case 50 years ago, when their results were stronger than those of girls.  That’s because education mattered. 

      So the question might be, not why are the schools failing boys, but why are the parents failing them?  Why aren’t the parents instilling in their sons the wish to learn, and the self-discipline to get on with it?

    • jade (the other one) says:

      08:41am | 04/09/12

      Ray - there is a significant focus on boys’ underperformance in literacy, and arts based subjects such as history, as well as a focus on increasing their engagement with formal schooling. Boys are actually considered a disadvantaged group when it comes to certain subjects where they have been identified as underperforming, just as girls are considered as such in the areas they are.

      If you actually were a part of the education system, you would know just how significant the focus is on boys’ educational decline.

      However, the research does still point to the fact that social disadvantage is a far bigger indicator of boys’ failure than gender. That’s probably why the Gonski report focused on disadvantage, over gender. Boys from socially advantaged backgrounds are still the top performers in our education system, on average. However the gap between these top lucky few, and the bottom is widening at an unprecedented rate.

    • Get rid of both parties says:

      08:58am | 04/09/12

      All true Ray.

      Feminists get in high places in Australia and then form policy.

      There’s a lot wrong with how Australia’s been run for the past 30 years. Market forces will soon change that in a more severe way than most even thought possible.

    • Max Power says:

      09:10am | 04/09/12

      Don’t expect equality from Labor. Labor used to be the workers party, now it is the political front for the feminist movement.
      The alternate choice to the feminist party are the liberal, and they are just as crap, but for different reasons.

    • Captain Obvious says:

      09:53am | 04/09/12

      Rubbish. Women still earn 17% less than men over their lifetime…this is DESPITE girls performing better in education. So the message is clear: girls, work harder and study harder and get better marks than boys and you’ll STILL earn less than they do!

      The lop-sidedness is built into our whole society where boys who underperform at school can still earn more money at work.

      In my school, the TENDENCY (obviously there are individual exceptions) is this…girls put their hands up more for extra duties, more responsibility and more leadership positions…while the boys TEND TO sit back with their arms folded, sneer and can’t be bothered…then they complain that the girls are getting better marks…

      Many boys still tend to believe that life should serve them up privileges and opportunities and a cooked dinner at 6pm…doubtless they are encouraged in this attitude by the ‘Rays’ out there…

    • Rose says:

      10:06am | 04/09/12

      The glaring deficiency has nothing to do with gender, sure there is a need to address the issues of boys currently falling behind, but that has more to do with culture and a lack of good, strong male role models within the education system. The main deficiency is the same as its always been, the lack of targeted, appropriate and well resourced assistance given to the most disadvantaged. That public schools in poorer areas are so far behind public schools in wealthier areas is a disgrace. Better resources does lead to better results, the new super schools in the northern Adelaide area have noted a significant reduction in truancy and behavioural issues compared to the levels of the same students in their previous run down schools.

    • Nick says:

      10:13am | 04/09/12

      As the brother of a teacher who spent half a career working with some of the most disadvantaged students in the country - both urban and rural - and then walked away totally disillusioned and burned out, I’d say that your focus on the differences between outcomes for boys and girls is a personal bias rather than “the most glaring deficiency” in our education system.  I think the most glaring deficiency is the predictable difference in outcomes between students from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds.  If we paid well-resourced and highly skilled teachers to work with tiny class sizes in some of the schools my sister worked in I think we’d be moving in the right direction.  Sadly it will never happen.

    • Ray says:

      10:52am | 04/09/12

      Al, at the risk of stating the obvious; Girls achieve most awards for top of subject, uni entry is 60% to female 40% to male, gfirls received specific impetus and still do in anything where males might perform better eg maths and science.

      Al, if you are young or do not suffer memory fade you will remember the culpable intent to promote girls education and ignore boys through the 70s, 80s, and 90s the impetus of which continues with culpable intent.

      If you wish to tune out and pretend it’s not there, I really can’t help you, but it is the same ignorance of convenience that derides boys.

    • Ray says:

      11:01am | 04/09/12

      Captain Obvious ‘many boys believe that life should serve them up priveleges and opportunitiews’

      Well CO you’ve cracked the code in one hit. What I quote from your derangesd response is the precise hallmark of today’s women.

      As for the 17%, quote that myth enough times and you will all believe it.

      How you and many other respondents can defend the lopsided outcomes from societies own instegation is beyond me.

    • Get rid of both parties says:

      11:02am | 04/09/12

      @Max Power

      So get rid of both of them.

      Democracy in Australia is a scam that will leave our kids with nothing.

    • Little Joe says:

      11:04am | 04/09/12

      Private Schools worked out a long time ago that teaching girls in girls schools produces very high results and teaching boys in boys schools produces very high results.

      Their brains work differently ...... yes you can get good results in combined classes but if you want the best results maybe it is worth looking at with the public system.

      Questions anybody??

      Ps. I think that the best of the best results occur when the home environment respects the education system.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      11:20am | 04/09/12

      @Ray - Boys are a significant focus in literacy and other areas where they are less likely to perform well in comparison to girls. Teaching strategies are aimed at encouraging boys to read, including altering acceptable texts to include magazines and online content, which boys are more likely to engage with, to, imho the detriment of true literary appreciation. Teachers are also encouraged to use competition and other male-oriented strategies in their literacy teaching, to the detriment of girls.

      In tertiary courses with limited numbers of males, such as teaching and nursing, there are dedicated efforts to encourage more males. Just like with those areas where females are underrepresented or failing.

      One of the major reasons for the decrease in university entrance of boys is the fact that they can make more money than females by entering professions that don’t require a university education. So they are less likely to choose one. It’s not a conspiracy. Make it more profitable for boys to choose tertiary education over the mines, over trades, over other professions, and you will see a return to greater rates of male participation. It’s not the conspiracy you imagine.

    • Tubesteak says:

      01:02pm | 04/09/12

      Captain Obvious
      “Women still earn 17% less than men over their lifetime”

      That’s because they work less and in typically lower-paying occupations. All because of their own personal choices. Nothing to do with anything else.

    • amy says:

      01:33pm | 04/09/12

      @Little Joe

      not sure I agree with completly seperating genders though…might help cause more sexism on eather side

    • Ray says:

      03:17pm | 04/09/12

      Jade - (Pull) The Other One. You would argue misguided defence as you are sinking in water for your last breath. Women wallow in the elevated position which they have manouvered themselves.

      I cannot believe that the mothers of boys condone their boys disadvantage, at the behest of some sub conscious adherence to feminist doctrine that sees the current gender disadvantage. Remember Howard suggesting affirmative action on providing male teacher scholarships. A mere drop in the ocean compared to the affirmative action towards females. Well how long did that proposal last. Never saw the light of day.

    • Ray says:

      03:17pm | 04/09/12

      Jade - (Pull) The Other One. You would argue misguided defence as you are sinking in water for your last breath. Women wallow in the elevated position which they have manouvered themselves.

      I cannot believe that the mothers of boys condone their boys disadvantage, at the behest of some sub conscious adherence to feminist doctrine that sees the current gender disadvantage. Remember Howard suggesting affirmative action on providing male teacher scholarships. A mere drop in the ocean compared to the affirmative action towards females. Well how long did that proposal last. Never saw the light of day.

    • Little Joe says:

      03:33pm | 04/09/12

      Maybe .... but from what I have seen recently at many all girls schools are achieving exceptionally high academic performance

      Now many of the all boys schools are trying to replicate their results

    • Get rid of both parties says:

      03:46pm | 04/09/12

      @Captain Obvious

      What rubbish.

      Women earn less because they choose occupations anyone can do.

      Any like for like occupation they earn the same. It’s a non argument.

      Reality is it’s a woman’s world. They’ve got it all.

    • Rose says:

      03:49pm | 04/09/12

      Amy, I attended a single sex school and so do my kids. I don’t see any lack of respect for the other gender from either the girls’ or the boys’ schools, I just see two schools offering different teaching styles which suit the overall learning of the students according to gender. Single sex schools often ensure that they connect to other single sex schools (opposite gender) for different activities to ensure that the kids get to socialize with others.
      Tubespeak, women earning less is usually the result of biology. women tend to be the ones that get pregnant and have babies, requiring them to take time off work. They tend to take lower paid part time and casual work in order to look after these offspring as well. More and more men are starting to take on the role of house-husband/ majority carer and that’s great, however until their mates start respecting them for making that choice, and until women are prepared to let go then the pay imbalance remains. It’s not as simple as ‘choice’, there’s a whole range of emotional, cultural, economic and social reasons why it occurs and change will take a really long time.

    • Mahhrat says:

      07:42am | 04/09/12

      “I felt there was an under-current to the PM’s speech of teachers being totally responsible for a school’s performance, when research shows major improvements in the academic skills of socially advantaged children peaking after holidays in the company of educated parents.”

      I keep coming back to the thought that if you’re going to make me responsible for my child (as it should be), then shut up and let me be the child’s father.

    • philip says:

      08:26am | 04/09/12

      you do know that the reason most of us are cynical about what gillard has promised is because the start date is not immediate but is 8 years away when in all likelihood she will not be in power sure investing in education is a good thing but at the end of the day when the start date has to start in 2020 then im sorry but its a ticking timebomb for new governments even if they are a labour one.

    • Brenda's sister says:

      08:26am | 04/09/12

      The writer uses the word “shadowy”. It all sounds like the latest in a wildly irresponsible string of Gillard government unfunded “announcements” probably amounting to one more fling at vote-buying.

      Measures that improve eduation standards should be “sold” as fully-funded, ready to go policy - not something to be implemented by a future government after the next election (predicted to be a landslide loss).

      It feels like another costly Gillard policy stuff-up in the making.  It reeks of trickery due to its vague timing and threats to States to cough up more money, enabling federal Labor’s reform for reform’s sake agenda.

      Julia Gillard speaks about literacy but urgently needs some re-training herself . The ex-Minister for Education cannot correctly pronounce simple words such as infastructure, hyperbowl, alwis, oppachunedy, disabilidy, the list is too long.  Her speech is appalling. Poor pronunciation worsens when she is shrieking at the parliament.  Julia Gillard’s My School website has been blamed for encourgaing bullying between neighbourhood children, some of whom delight in boasting that their schools’ ratings are known to be far superior to those living nearby but attending a lower ranked school.

      I feel Julia Gillard is deficient in the field of education services and should not be meddling in this policy area.  She may have obtained a law degree but from what we hear of late she didn’t even comply with the simple pre-requisites for drawing up Rules of Association. Even the most basically educated Australian would understand how to accurately complete such a form.

      Personally I think she has adopted an area of interest that is way beyond her level of competence and certainly outside her field of experience. Sorry, I just don’t swallow any of this announcement. More smoke and mirrors from a desperately failed, clinging to power PM.

    • Jack's brother says:

      11:50am | 04/09/12

      More vitriol and ad-hominem attack from a liberal shill.

      Brenda’s sister you are proof that when the intellectually lazy/deficient lack basic debating skills they invariably begin to play the (wo)man and not the ball. Just as you have done here.

      It would seem as though you are one of those poor, disadvantaged children who did not have the opportunity to gain a quality education.

      Better luck next time.

    • glenm says:

      01:56pm | 04/09/12

      @ jacks Brother,
      Nothing wrong in a debate about the quality of the government and the false promises it makes , in highlighting the flaws and failings of the party leader. After all the prime minister should be fully accountable for the governments decisions , just as an any private enterprise employer is fully responsible for the actions of thier employees. It is somewhat amusing that you choose to argue not to play the man, yet your response is exactly that. I dont need to stoop to that level in the debate, it is plain for every one to see that your argument is flawed.

    • Brenda's sister says:

      02:54pm | 04/09/12

      Jack.  Thank you for your quaint rudeness.  I am entitled to my opinion whether you like it or not and you are entitled to disagree.  Why not politely disagree while steering clear of (incorrect) personal assumptions?  You know nothing about my educational achievements or childhood background.

      Just try to be nice, dear.

    • Rose says:

      05:51pm | 04/09/12

      Brenda’s sister, where in all of the rubbish that you wrote is there anything resembling an actual, verifiable FACT. Your post does reek of partisan chest beating and very little else. Remember that Howard significantly underfunded all but the most elite private schools and the Gonski report is very new. It takes years to devise and implement proper reform as teacher development, curriculum development and resourcing are time and money intensive activities. I don’t know whether Gillard’s approach will succeed, I know Howard’s didn’t and I don’t even think Abbott’s got any idea what he would actually do.
      I don’t agree with jack’s brother’s personal arrack on you, but he has a point, you didn’t really offer anything but a fairly nasty and unwarranted attack on Gillard.

    • Brenda's sister says:

      07:17pm | 04/09/12

      Rose,  I don’t believe my criticisms of Julia Gillard come anywhere near what will be known as her historically nasty, cruel and vicious attack on her unsuspecting senior colleague Kevin Rudd. 

      If you think back a little, some of the nastiest episodes in Labor history occurred when Wayne Swan and colleagues viciously, publicly attacked Kevin Rudd in the days before this year’s leadership challenge.

      I appreciate your opinion and defence of J. Gillard and you have every right to say what you think.  You might also try to respond in a more pleasant style.  Where is it written that anyone who posts a comment here has to do so in the manner demanded by the tone of your post? 

      As others do, I merely set out my train of thought on today’s issue and on the conduct of the PM.  The wider public will make their judgment when the next election is called but obviously Brenda and I happen to think she is a proven policy incompetent and we have every right to point out her failures. 

      Rest assured, I have no intention of telling you what to think or how to express your opinion.  Courtesy costs absolutely nothing.


    • thatmosis says:

      08:36am | 04/09/12

      What the almost PM put forward as a Policy on Education is not worth the paper it was written on. It is supposed to address the Education shamozle that we now have in Australia but unfortunately it will not do one iota of good as she and the Labor Party will not survive the next election making her promises like certain other promises, a laughing stock and if I were a vindictive person another lie to the people.
        It all sounds good in theory but in reality is worthless talk that is designed to suck in those voters that cant see the forest for the trees. What good are promises made for the future when in all probability those making the promises will be on the opposition benches or completely out of politics.
        Our Education system fails because the core subjects are not being taught correctly because the current crop of younger teachers have passed though the same Education system and that has failed them too.
        Throwing money at the problem will do nothing unless we have a decent curriculum and the teachers trained enough to actually carry out the tasks assigned, without that we are just throwing money away.
        Lets concentrate on teaching our children the basics before we teach them life skills and their rights as in this new world a good education will be a necessity not a luxury. Lets allow our teachers to discipline those that disrupt the class or actually fail those that don’t do the work instead of allowing them to pass because it might do them some psychological harm, lets bring back competition where the better person wins and those that are below par lose instead of awarding prizes for just taking part, allow these children to see the real world and that achieving is the way to go.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      10:38am | 04/09/12

      And lets remove the onus on prep teachers to teach life skills like tying shoe laces, brushing teeth and toilet training, because parents are too lazy to teach them. Let’s get back to the glorious sixties where teachers could safely assume that kids knew the alphabet at least before they arrived at school.

      Of course, that will mean that the most disadvantaged students (ie those from homes where this isn’t taught) will be even further behind, be the ones even more consistently losing, and even more marginalised than they are now.

      And I can guarantee you that the students who need these skills taught by their prep teacher are not the ones in the high performing schools, public or private. They’re in the so-called “failing” schools. I personally think these schools that produce prep students who can do these things, though they might not be up to the same level in reading and writing than their better advantaged peers are the real successes. Working with a distinctly lesser amount of resources, less value placed on education among the families, greater poverty, and less parental education, they still take on things far outside their realm of responsibility.

    • Little Joe says:

      11:10am | 04/09/12

      Look ..... I have a national policy ..... but the states have to pay for it!!!

      How many times are we going to hear this before the election??

      Next thing I expect to hear is Western Australia being put in charge of Immigration Policy.

      All just smoke and mirrors to take people’s minds off the slowing economy, failing budget and the boats that keep arriving.

    • Cynicised says:

      11:43am | 04/09/12

      Jade,  as an aside, my male partner couldn’t tie his shoes until he was about ten. Just didn’t have the motivation, he was too busy learning other things. Now he’s extremely well educated and highly successful in his chosen field.  Parental laziness re toilet training and teeth brushing I get, however.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      12:06pm | 04/09/12

      @Cynicised - I’m not suggesting that every student who cannot tie their shoes by prep is a disadvantaged or slow student. I’m highlighting the ludicrous situation where this is somehow seen as a teacher’s, rather than a parent’s responsibility to teach.

    • Pudel says:

      05:21pm | 04/09/12

      I can remember my prep teacher teaching us the alphabet, I found it so boring, cause I was reading before prep, I can also remember shoe tying lessons for the class.  In prep and grade 1.  Tying shoe laces is actually a difficult thing to learn and to teach.  I started school in 1972, so when did we assume prep kids knew the alphabet?  I knew the alphabet, could read simple text and could count past 100 in prep.  I had great difficulty learning to tie my shoes.  My son was multiplying in kindergarten, read Eragon in Grade 1 and I can still remember teaching him to tie his shoes, it was at least grade 2 before he got it properly.  With free kinder for health care holders, the most disadvantaged kids are learning skills like cleaning teeth at kinder.  I believe this simple advent of funding will give disadvantaged kids a greater boost than more funding for schools.  If I was making a choice at this moment in time on where best to spend the education dollar I would be funding 3 year old kinder, and making it free for health care card holders, these kids would then be being taught about hygiene food and health, having stories read to them and being taught how to hold a pencil and a paintbrush, thread a bead, cut with scissors a year earlier, freeing up prep for writing the letters and learning the alphabet.

    • Pudel says:

      05:21pm | 04/09/12

      I can remember my prep teacher teaching us the alphabet, I found it so boring, cause I was reading before prep, I can also remember shoe tying lessons for the class.  In prep and grade 1.  Tying shoe laces is actually a difficult thing to learn and to teach.  I started school in 1972, so when did we assume prep kids knew the alphabet?  I knew the alphabet, could read simple text and could count past 100 in prep.  I had great difficulty learning to tie my shoes.  My son was multiplying in kindergarten, read Eragon in Grade 1 and I can still remember teaching him to tie his shoes, it was at least grade 2 before he got it properly.  With free kinder for health care holders, the most disadvantaged kids are learning skills like cleaning teeth at kinder.  I believe this simple advent of funding will give disadvantaged kids a greater boost than more funding for schools.  If I was making a choice at this moment in time on where best to spend the education dollar I would be funding 3 year old kinder, and making it free for health care card holders, these kids would then be being taught about hygiene food and health, having stories read to them and being taught how to hold a pencil and a paintbrush, thread a bead, cut with scissors a year earlier, freeing up prep for writing the letters and learning the alphabet.

    • coral says:

      08:49am | 04/09/12

      Did anyone see the mincing poodle on Lateline?

      Three word slogans ARE the coalition policy on any topic.
      All foam and no beer.

    • Dash says:

      03:15pm | 04/09/12

      Moving forward, moving forward. Working families working families. Big polluters, big polluters, root and branch, cheaper better childcare, fuelwatch grocerychoice ah ah Julia want a cracker?

    • Alan Pevie says:

      08:59am | 04/09/12

      My brother and II went to a famous private school in Scotland in the early fifties. My brother is a doctor. I am a driving instructor. The school was famous for achieving high academic and sporting standards. The teachers, in my opinion were good and not so good. Money helps,but it is not everything. Alan Pevie Rostrevor SA

    • Dash says:

      09:04am | 04/09/12

      Hollow promise yet again! What is the point of promising something to be delivered in 2020? Where is the funding coming from?

      We’ve had the dental care scheme announced - not funded. The NDIS announced - not funded. And now the Schools scheme announced - not finded.

      Who are the idiots out there that still believe this government who has not one ounce of credibility left? Who the hell are you?

      Lets look at the ALPs record on promise and delivery:

      1. Fuelwatch - fail
      2. Grocery Choice - fail
      3. Coast Guard - not delivered
      4. Root and Branch tax reform - not delivered
      5. 260 childcare centres - not delivered
      6. We wont touch the private health tax rebate - LIE
      7. No carbon tax - LIE
      8. Insulation scheme - fiasco
      9. BER - Rorts
      10. No child shall live without a laptop - now it’s one for two. LNP seats still waiting
      11. Cheaper better childcare - childcare fees up
      12. More affordable housing - fail
      13. Green loans - fail
      14. “I’m an economic conservative” - ah no, you’re the biggest spending PM in the nations history
      15. Cash for clunkers - fail
      16. Pokie Machine reform - fail
      17. East Timor Solution - LIE, never existed
      18. Stop the boats - fail
      19. No onshore detention centres - LIE
      20. Citizens Assembly - LIE
      21. NDIS - Announced but not funded
      22. Promise to reduce the cost of consultancies - LIE it’s gone up massively
      23. Public ownership of hospitals by July 2009 - still waiting
      24. Abolision of compulsory student unionism - not delivered
      25. Money for Epping to Parramatta railway - not delivered

      Um, I think there may be a pattern here. The ALP are a pack of incompetent deceitful morons. Do not get sucked in by their bullshit any more!

      Where is the money coming from? The federal government is trying to hijack state government responsibility. Bugger off Julia!

    • andye says:

      11:28am | 04/09/12

      @Dash - Do you have to post a full list EVERY SINGLE TIME? Why don’t you try an make a new point, a new post each time. It might be refreshing. It might also mean that more people actually read what you wrote instead of shaking their heads and moving on to the next post.

    • james says:

      11:43am | 04/09/12

      Lets stick to Howards election cycle bribes and no plan at all for Australians to excel.

    • Jess says:

      01:20pm | 04/09/12

      This list is getting boring make a new point.
      Better to try and fail than to not try at all.

      I also don’t think schemes that failed because they were too popular should count in your list or things that were reactive to the world situation

    • Dash says:

      01:43pm | 04/09/12

      @andye - simply pointing out that the ALP is full of shit!
      You’re reading! But something tells me you will never learn.

      @James - Why? Does the ALPs incompetence upset you? I’d be embarrassed to if I’d voted for these morons.

      @Jess - Boring? Perhaps. True and relevant? Yep! I’m simply pointing out that the ALP bullshitted it’s way into power and is trying it again. Why do you defend that?

      The thing that suprises me, is that there are people lining up to make excuses and still support fraud, corruption, lies and incompetence. Unbelievable!

    • GregE says:

      02:02pm | 04/09/12

      Rusted on ALP tragics, can’t seem to accept they support a failed and deceitful government I guess.

    • Jess says:

      05:04pm | 04/09/12

      As long as you do a list with the same concept for the next government. I think you will find every government has things that don’t work and cost blow outs.

      But is it really neccessary to post the same list on every thread about politics? Can’t you stick to discussing the policy of the thread not every “failed” policy or at least do every successful policy program too. I think you’ll find alot of them too.

    • Get rid of both parties says:

      09:12am | 04/09/12

      The plan is as follows.

      1. Encourage dysfunctional parents to have kids.

      2. Dysfunctional parent/s “raise” kids until they are about six.

      3. Send kids to school with zero discipline, zero work ethic, zero boundaries, zero role models.

      4. Blame teachers for poor education.

      Labor AGAIN tackling the wrong problem.

    • Sickemrex says:

      07:36pm | 04/09/12

      Costello encouraged dysfunctional parents to breed for cash.

    • Dan says:

      09:14am | 04/09/12

      I just don’t like the too tricky by half way that she says she’ll implement it fully….if she is re-elected. I also don’t like that “experts” like Tony don’t seem able to see the cold cynicism that is inherent in that and clap like trained seals.

      NEWS FLASH - you are gooorne Gillard. As gooorne as Keneally and Bligh. Gooorne. Nothing you do can save you. So don’t make tricky little promises about 5 years down the track. Do what you can now

    • Craig says:

      09:21am | 04/09/12

      Without education, Civilisation cannot survive. Reduce literacy and numeracy and a country cannot look after its older people in 20-30yrs time (anyone 30-50yrs old today).

      Therefore good education is a sound investment in our own personal futures, even if it bankrupts our kids.

      They will have to face the same challenge in their time. At least with a good education they will have a better shot at a solution.

      Enough illiterate barbarians are born in the world. Let’s not create our own domestic law issues by reducing the post-school options for kids.

    • sandra says:

      09:31am | 04/09/12

      To Quote Judith Sloan—smart education oriented parents raise smart education oriented children.At the other end of the spectrum, there is only so much schools can do for children whose parents do not care about and are not engaged in the education of their children. This is the core if what is wrong with the system—and no government can legislate to fix that—nor should they. Gillards pie in the sky crusade BS is just that—BS with no money to back it up

    • AdamC says:

      09:31am | 04/09/12

      Increasing funding will not improve educational outcomes in this country. That strategy has failed in the past and will fail again. I cannot fathom how doing things like shrinking class sizes will address the problem of kids from poorly-educated families performing worse than kids from better-educated families. To some extent, we need to accept that some students will always do better than others and that those students who perform well will be more likely than not to have parents who did the same.

      The Finnish model of focussing on laggards and bringing them up to standard, which would do most to improve outcomes for enthusiastic but disadvantaged students, could be implemented with the current level of resourcing. In addition, better use of teaching aids and the adoption of a ‘coaching model’ could allow teachers to handle more students at once. However, all we keep hearing from the education lobby is ‘give us more money’. And we have, for many years now, with seemingly limited improvements in standards.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      11:06am | 04/09/12

      And how do you think education aids can be used without better funding for their introduction and training of teachers to use them effectively? How do you think those students without resources at home can compete with those that do, without significant funding for schools to provide it? The Finnish model works, in part because those lagging behind have small classes. Other reasons include the provision of meals and other things outside the basic education, to ameliorate the effects of disadvantage.

    • AdamC says:

      11:33am | 04/09/12

      Of course, we would need to make investments to modernise education provision. That is not in dispute. What I am disputing is the virtue of continuing to increase funding within the existing curriculum and instruction model when our experience suggests that this will not improve outcomes. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome seems somewhat incongruent with educational philsophy, doesn’t it?

      I do not really agree with schools doing things like providing meals, etc. Teachers are not social workers and I see no reason why welfare services are better provided via schools than other means. Surely giving poor kids free food at school would also stigmatise them horribly? I do not disagree, however, that poorly-performing students would benefit from more intensive instruction.
      Another aspect of this that could be considered is ditching the current fetish for increasing graduation/retention rates. I do not see it as the role of educators to force diengaged students to simply go through the motions. No teacher can force a student to drink, as it were. If kids do not want to learn, they should be allowed to leave school early. Then, if they later see the error of their ways, they can complete their education when they are mature enough to value it.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      12:02pm | 04/09/12

      @AdamC - research suggests that smaller class sizes greatly benefit disadvantaged students. Furthermore, most teacher’s unions and teachers recognise the huge problems with our current approach to instruction. However, they cannot change the method of instruction without the funding and resources to do so. The problem is that the methods shown to best assist students in significant disadvantage are not the kind of strategies that win votes. They are not the strategies that enable politicians to sloganeer. They are complex, specific strategies, that require significant resources, both human and physical to make work. For instance, in the Finnish system, teachers actually spend a much smaller proportion of their time face-to-face with students than in our own. This enables them to better develop specialised, targeted resources for individual students, do gap analysis and data analysis of student results to determine their specific needs, and reflect on their own practice. However, this obviously requires additional teaching or support staff, and is definitely not a vote winner. Can you imagine a politician standing up and saying - teachers need less time in front of classes, and winning the public (who view teachers as lazy, incapable, stupid)?

      Meals are provided to all students, regardless of disadvantage. So there apparently isn’t the stigma which happens in some US schools. I don’t philosophically agree with the idea, but from a practical standpoint, students can’t learn when they are hungry, and no one else is willing to do it.

      I also agree absolutely that the concept of forced retention to year 12 is a problematic way to view successful education outcomes. I personally view it as a neat way to hide youth unemployment numbers. I really do think that providing students access to trades, apprenticeships, and work experience opportunities from a much younger age, in all schools, followed by progression into full time work at 15 or 16 for those that struggle in formal education is a lofty goal. Subsidies to set those students up with tools and equipment and appropriate training before they are old enough to apprentice, making them more valuable to employers is an idea I have had for a while. But again, can you see governments advocating this sort of thing, regardless of how beneficial it would be to disadvantaged students who are often priced out of trades because they cannot afford the money for decent tools, or training?

    • AdamC says:

      02:31pm | 04/09/12

      @jade, I suspect you are talking about that Tennessee study re class sizes for disadvantaged students. It is my understanding that there is by no means unanimous agreement that small class sizes automatically benefit poor students. Personally, I suppose I like the idea of separate ‘flying squads’ of teachers to assist struggling students to meet minimum benchmarks through intensive instruction. 

      I also agree with you that many options to improve education (one of which, as I have argued, is to use smart technologies to allow teachers to teach more students) are not politically attractive. It is a pity, really. Also, re the lunches, there would also be the problem of retrofitting schools to enable mass feeding of students, not to mention the costs of it. And haven’t you ever heard old Brits talk about the horrors of ‘school dinners’?

      You know, oddly, we do not seem as far apart on this as I would have expected.

    • Alfie says:

      09:33am | 04/09/12

      So what has been the result of the great ‘Education Revolutiion’ that was promised by Gillard and Rudd in 2007?

      Another Labor fizzer.

    • les says:

      10:29am | 04/09/12

      i would love to see this, but… doesnt come in to play until 2020!!
      maybe we can save that money before then? or is this just a breat starter for an election….. another broken promise. and seeing the minister for education , after failing in the insulation installation debacle, just makes me cringe. add to this an extra 2 billion for the extra boat arrivals, and the extra carbon tax i pay, take away the ETR, and add extra millions for advertising before (it only lasted 1.2 years!), and after with the FAP(and its millions worth of advertising, and we’re all doing SO WELL!!?? inflation HAS risen far more than what they tell us…....and the list goes on…....phew   i need a holiday…..pity i cany afford one.

    • Alan says:

      10:29am | 04/09/12

      Your comment:I’m confused, Garrett says teachers don’t have to be all that smart and advocates lowering required qualifications for those wanting to enter the profession whilst Gillard states that part of the crusade is ensuring that teaching standards rise by increasing the level of qualifications potential teachers must have before they enter the profession. Does the Labor Party actually have a policy or is this just another set of sound bites?

    • Jess says:

      01:39pm | 04/09/12

      the smartest people don’t neccessarily have the emotional intelligence or patience to be a good teacher. That sort of Empathy can’t be taught.
      I think it will be a combination of raising the bar for teachers and an increase in mature aged dip ed teachers.
      Some of the better teachers are also those who did poorly at school.

      Has anyone looked at the teach America program and their rention rates for the teachers? Teach America where they took excelling students and trained them for 6 months and then supported them teaching for a year

    • jade (the other one) says:

      02:06pm | 04/09/12

      @Jess - I hate this idea that some of the better teachers were those who did poorly at school.

      I think it is disgusting that we accept teachers who did not even achieve passing grades in school in the subjects they are trying to teach. What does that say to their students about the worth of the subject they are being taught?

      Teachers are meant to teach. They are not meant to be the student’s friend. They are meant to be able to have a significant command of their subject matter, and have a keen understanding of how to impart this to students. When people say, some of the best teachers did poorly at school, they seem to conflate the words “popular” and “best”. In my experience, some of the least popular teachers were also some of the most successful in improving student outcomes. Parents and students often both hate them. Yet their students often came out with deeper subject knowledge, a better understanding of the application of such knowledge, and a higher grade than they had ever achieved before.

      The “best” teachers it seems, are the ones with the lowest expectations. Because it enables lazy parents,and lazier students to ignore the need for any effort.

    • Michael says:

      10:37am | 04/09/12

      The revolting education…sorry i mean education revolution shambles along.

    • Sister Mary says:

      11:29am | 04/09/12

      Nothing gets easier when Ms Gillard presents herself as a “crusader” and then mentions modular classrooms and every kid getting a computer as some of her triumphs, and Mr Gonski sings his own anthem of hitting every school problem with very big dollars…forever. When railway staff have to get elocution lessons to be intelligible on the loudspeakers, there has been something terribly wrong for ages. Maybe teachers’ unions have been shoddy and tricksy and haven’t cared hard enough to teach the 3 R’s, if they know them.
      Meantime, Ms Gillard wants to buy votes fast with other people’s, never-never money and shakily tell us that she has the love of “our kids” chewing at her heart-strings. If only!

    • vox says:

      12:15pm | 04/09/12

      Ah, Sister Mary. Such an unhappy little lass. Did you not know that the ever-neglectful Howard and Abbott had this opportunity when they were in control, but chose as per usual, to do nothing.
      It’s called “planning for the future of our Nation”, Mary. Every parent, (well, except for the greedy and politically malicious), should grab this great opportunity with both hands. It may never come our way again.
      You see Mary, you can’t always do everything ‘today’. Some things like, say, Abbott’s attempt to buy the souls of working mothers with his “can’t be paid for” Maternity allowance had to be delayed for a while because when he bows to the miner’s demands and get’s rid of the carbon tax, (so called), he won’t have any money. Do you see what I mean?
      Now you have obviously suffered from the Howard lack of attention to the Nation’s education system so I shan’t criticise you personally, but I do hope that you take the time to think. Just think.
      Vinson is the type of person that should be seconded to serve in the Parliament. He is an intellectual giant who has overseen some of Australia’s greatest programs, and I think he deserves the Nation’s thanks, not its derision. Were that there were more like him.

    • les says:

      01:02pm | 04/09/12

      @vox   maybe if we didnt spend all that money on buildings that most of our schools didnt need (they just pu their hands up for free money!), this may one day come to fruition…..however….me thinks that there aint no pennies in the pot. maybe instead of taxing the hard workers, we could get funds from the free loaders of this country. even so, there will be nothing left to fund any pensions in years to come, unless there are some massive tax increases, especially seeing the revenue from the carbon tax is about to drop…....

    • Sister Mary says:

      01:25pm | 04/09/12

      Ah, Vox, wow. You sure brought me to heel for being so wrong about so much. (BTW, checking your first paragraph or so suggests you weren’t paying attention in punctuation classes.)
      Anyway, I have the highest regard for Mr Vinson but I’m not so sure about others who foresee the distant future so clearly.
      God bless you, Vox.

    • MF says:

      12:04pm | 04/09/12

      I think ultimately it comes down to self determination. I grew up attending “povo” schools and had a totally unsupportive home environment. My parents were constantly on my back to quit school and “get an f’ing job”. And my teachers were pretty much just there to wind down the hours until 3pm.

      But I’d always been allowed to visit the public library. I always liked to read. So that’s what I did. I read. I taught myself what I wanted to know. And this helped at school when I had teachers who just really didn’t seem to give a crap. Sometimes you need to do things for yourself when the system and your family just don’t care.

      But I graduated high school with top marks - even though I went to a “povo” school. Enough to get me into the university course of my choice. Where I did well enough to get a scholarship to do a PhD.

      I don’t know how much having a “better education” during my primary and high school years would have helped me in the end. Maybe it would have made things easier and more fun, sure. But I still think educational success comes down to the individual and how badly you want it.

    • jade (the other one) says:

      12:26pm | 04/09/12

      @MF - to some extent this is true. However, there is nothing wrong, and everything right with making it easier for students from your sort of background to make the choices that you did. Part of this includes increasing access to resources for disadvantaged students, especially those in areas without libraries or other services. It also includes promoting teachers who do care, and who do want to do the best for their students, and who understand the barriers that they are facing. Unfortunately, many first year teachers (who are the most likely to end up in these schools), do not, and become burnt out by the sheer effort to break these barriers down. So, like the students they teach, they become disengaged. They think “how can I do anything with what little I have to do it with?” And so they don’t try to do even a little. It’s not right, but it’s certainly understandable. And it’s a problem we have to find a way to fix.

    • amy says:

      01:27pm | 04/09/12

      unfortunatly most peopel do not share your drive…

    • Mick says:

      02:01pm | 04/09/12

      Why would smart young people who might want to become teachers want to work for the current level of teachers that barely passed the HSC ?

    • willie says:

      02:21pm | 04/09/12

      I reckon the system at my high school was pretty good.
      They would split the year up according to skill. The kids who couldn’t add had tiny classes the kids who could divide had normal sized classes and the kids who were doing complex vector analysis for fun while the teacher wasn’t looking had about 50 to a class.
      Sure you ended up with a couple of smart kids who didn’t push themselves but there were no stupid kids who left school uneducated.

    • expat says:

      02:42pm | 04/09/12

      It all comes down to the attitudes of society, different socioeconomic backgrounds are going to have different attitudes towards education. The idea of throwing endless sums of money trying to achieve perfect equality in results among students is a pointless exercise.

      I remember at school, countless resources being used to try bring the standards up of those who did not want to learn at the expense of everyone who did.


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