The education model implemented by the UK’s Conservative government, illustrated by Free Schools and the new primary school curriculum, provides a striking alternative to what is being forced on schools by the Julia Gillard led Commonwealth Government and Australia’s left-of-centre education establishment.
Under Kevin Rudd, and now Prime Minister Gillard, schools are being forced to adopt a centralised, bureaucratic approach to education, best illustrated by the Building the Education Revolution fiasco.
Copying many of the initiatives introduced during the UK Tony Blair years, the ALP government is committed to a top down approach, exemplified by a national curriculum, national teacher registration and certification and tying implementation to funding.
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Gutters bursting at the seams after a 15 minute downpour. Leaking gas taps in the science labs. Classroom heaters failing in the winter, air conditioners not existing in the summer.
My parents forked out their taxpayer dollars, plus $60 a year in textbook fees and an optional $100 on top of that so I could go to a public high school in Western Sydney. It was the same school my mum had attended when it was shiny(ish) and new in the late ’60s.
The problem was when I went there not only had nothing really changed, nothing had really been maintained.
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UPDATE 2.30pm: The WorkCover Authority just provided a statement to The Punch saying the Be Aware Take Care campaign will cost NSW taxpayers $2.3 million.
“The aim of the information program is to ensure people know about the many hazards on or around a construction site that could pose a serious safety risk,” the statement said.
If you were watching the Masterchef premier in NSW last night, and it’s safe to say more than a couple of you were, you would have seen an advertisement featuring the Federal Government’s Building the Education Revolution.
The ad is filled with neat little kids in public school uniforms standing in front of beautiful new under-construction school halls. The voice over says: “Right now you might notice changes at your local schools. To build a better future for our children the Commonwealth and State governments are investing more than $6 billion into NSW government and non-government schools. Around 15,000 workers are undertaking building and construction on more than 3000 schools across the state.”
An election ad paid for by the ALP right? No, a “safety awareness” campaign from the NSW WorkCover Authority. You can see the ad here, at the Be Aware, Take Care website, which helpfully fills you in on all the fabulous construction programs underway.
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Yet again, Mr Rudd has announced plans for his lame My School website in the name of lifting the standards of all Australian schools. And yet again, he’s missed the boat with his scheme to publicise next month’s National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests. If he was really serious about improving the educational lot of all young people, he’d take the lead of Australia’s most prestigious learning institution: Geelong Grammar.
Doing its best in its quest to bridge the ever widening gap between the educational haves and have-nots, Grammar recently opened a $16 million ‘wellness’ facility - humbly described on the school’s website as “an exciting new direction in education, building confidence, optimism and success in young people”. Thank god. This sort of service couldn’t have come soon enough to some of the most advantaged elites in our community.
Students of Australia’s richest learning establishment finally have access to two indoor courts, a 25 metre heated pool, large gymnasium with a weights room, ergometers, aerobics and dance areas, teaching spaces, a café, health information areas with online resources, a nine-bed medical facility, and doctors’ consultation rooms.
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The Liberals continue to peddle misinformation about the Building the Education Revolution building program. To hear them talk, schools are having slipshod buildings they don’t want foist upon them.
But out in the real world, state of the art school libraries, halls and gyms are opening all around the country. The most comprehensive school modernisation effort in the country’s history is taking place in bricks and mortar.
Since the introduction of the economic stimulus package, I have heard a lot about the benefits of the building program. But it wasn’t until I recently attended the opening of a new facility in Adelaide’s outer suburbs just what a difference these facilities will make.
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