2012 Issue 2
➥ Educating at the edge: Andrew Pegler on the challenge of schooling in remote communities ➥ A future for the liberal arts? Professor Don Markwell on Higher Education in the 21st Century ➥ Turning this ship around: Dr John Ridd and Dr Matthew Dean on improving maths and science results in Queensland schools ➥ EXPORTING EDUCATION SENATOR BRETT MASON
Looking closer at independent public schools
With Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek
Proudly sponsored by
Editor’s Welcome Welcome to the education edition of Dialogue magazine. More than anything else, education has the power to transform lives. With a combination of education and motivation, every Australian has the opportunity to reach their potential. Amanda Stoker Editor – Dialogue magazine Policy Standing Committee Member
It’s our best weapon in the fight against social disadvantage. Better than welfare, health care or policing, it is the most effective way to reduce crime, get people into work, and help them to achieve economic and social independence. We should be concerned, then, that the results of Queensland school pupils have been declining for some time now. While the results of Queensland’s students in the core skills of maths, English and science were once internationally leading, today we are gradually being eclipsed not just by other developed countries, but by several developing Asian countries who are rapidly improving results despite limited resources. All of this is occurring in an environment in which education spending has never been higher. So what is going wrong? In this issue, Dr John Ridd and Dr Matthew Dean provide their perspectives on what has caused the decline of education standards, and what we need to change about how and what we teach to deliver outstanding results. Although so often demanded by teachers’ unions, it’s clear that continuing to just throw money at the problem isn’t the answer. In this edition, great minds from Oxford, Brisbane and the bush offer their answers to this difficult question.
Letters to the Editor
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. A selection will be published in the next edition.
DiSclaimer: “Dialogue is a publication designed to generate policy debate and to encourage the sharing of policy ideas. The views expressed are not LNP party policy or the policy of all LNP Members of Parliament. Each author takes responsibility for the views expressed in their own work only. ”
It’s encouraging that the new LNP Government has already taken steps to implement change to how schools operate, giving greater parental and local input, and giving teachers the right to decide how they distribute resources to best cater to the unique needs and interests of their pupils. In this issue, Minister for Education, Training and Employment John-Paul Langbroek explains how the new Independent Public Schools program will drive creativity and competition in education service delivery. This policy is an excellent example of the role of the LNP membership, too. Policy to introduce Independent Public Schools was carried at the 2011 Convention, after being initially proposed as a motion by a Young LNP branch. It’s a demonstration of the impact that you and your ideas can have: all the way into the classroom, changing the lives of thousands of students across the State. The Policy Standing Committee and I hope that this will inspire you to contribute to policy through party unit motions and contributions to policy committees. As our State seeks to achieve more with fewer resources, your ideas have never been more valuable.
Amanda Stoker – Editor, Dialogue magazine Policy Standing Committee Member
Dr B.J. Arnison OAM Chair, LNP Education Committee
The Challenge of Knowledge –
Education in Queensland On behalf of the LNP Education Policy Committee I am delighted to provide this introduction to a series of thought provoking articles on issues in the field of education. The Minister for Education, Training and Employment provides an outline of the development of something new for Queensland – The Independent Public Schools (IPS). This development is anchored in the belief that the principles of choice and diversity are fundamental to good education. If parents are to be given an effective voice in how their children are to be educated, they need to be able to choose the school their child attends and be able to help shape the direction of that school. It is also well recognised, in modern research in education, that the quality of public education is enhanced when school Principals are given greater flexibility and autonomy to run their schools. In his thought provoking article Senator Mason reminds us that not only is an internationally competitive education system essential for the children of Queensland, Education is also our nation’s largest export earner after minerals. Yes, bigger than tourism!
However, in the competitive export industry of education, resting on our laurels is not an option. Whilst Australian pupils perform better than children in many other countries, our position is not guaranteed. The internationally recognised value of a strong knowledge base and excellent education system is driving many new powerhouse economies to improve their national standards in education and training. Those economies which simply rest on their laurels will fall behind. Excellent teaching and a clear and substantive curriculum are fundamental to excellence in education. The contribution by Professor Don Markwell, Warden of Rhodes House, Oxford challenges us to raise our sights and include in our vision for education, not only advanced technical skills in Science, Mathematics and the Humanities, but also those benefits of a liberal education which promote rational analysis, clear thinking and a breadth of knowledge necessary for active citizenship in a world where knowledge is the essential asset. |1|
We also need to be alert to that which we can improve. In a confronting article on the front page of The Australian newspaper of 10 July 2012 the nation’s deans of science described the Queensland Studies Authority Science Curriculum as flawed and based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of scientific inquiry. Such a powerful criticism should not go unanswered and Minister Langbroek has responded by referring the matter for further investigation to the Premier, seeking scrutiny of the syllabuses and the QSA by the parliamentary committee on education and innovation. The articles in this edition by Dr Matthew Dean and Dr John Ridd provide revealing insight into aspects of the delivery of Mathematics and Science education in the state’s primary and secondary schools. However, no insight can be more revealing than the perspective provided by Andrew Pegler, President of the Queensland division of the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association of Australia, an organisation dedicated to supporting families who meet the special
challenges of educating their children in remote and regional environments. These families address all of the challenges already mentioned, but with the added difficulty of isolation and frequently inadequate infrastructure. They need special recognition and assistance because education is critical to the social and economic futures of these communities. I wish to take this opportunity to thank the members of the education committee for their contributions and research. I would also like to acknowledge the support and assistance provided by the Minister and his office. To all of those engaged in the important enterprise of education across Queensland, the members of the LNP Education Committee welcome your comments, which can be sent to email@example.com.
Dr B.J. Arnison OAM Chair, LNP Education Committee
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Independent, Local and Effective Independent Public Schools â€“ Driving innovation through local decision-making
The Hon. John-Paul Langbroek MP Decentralisation is a classic pillar of conservative governments. Unlike those from the left, we believe that decisions are best made at the local level. We believe that government should provide the grounds upon which private initiative can grow and flourish. We believe government should devolve and decentralise authority and decision-making, thereby empowering communities and ensuring our public services are responsive to the needs of the communities they serve. The Newman government is no exception. This government believes that decentralisation is a good thing as a guiding principle, and that where practicable we should devolve power to communities. Our education policies are consistent with this belief. The LNP promised before the election to introduce 120 Independent Public Schools over the next 4 years. These schools would be granted greater autonomy to make local decisions and would be more accountable to their local communities. We introduced the Independent Public Schools (IPS) initiative to lift education standards for students by granting schools more control over their own decision-making. As the flagship education policy of the last election, I strongly believe the IPS initiative reflects those core principles which define the Liberal National Party, the Newman government and our underpinning philosophies. We believe in government that nurtures and encourages its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people and creating stifling bureaucratic red-tape. We believe in government that provides its citizens and school teachers with freedom of choice as a means of achieving the best results. This is a clear distinction between the Newman government and previous administrations. Schools should not have to spend their budgets in accordance with a â€˜one size fits allâ€™ approach. We will change this by empowering local communities. What delivers the best results for students at Coorparoo
About the Author
The Hon. John-Paul Langbroek MP is the Minister for Education, Training and Employment and has been the Member for Surfers Paradise since 2004.
We introduced the Independent Public Schools (IPS) initiative to lift education standards for students by granting schools more control over their own decisionmaking. |3|
state of Queensland. The initiative is open to primary and high schools. Participating schools will receive up to $50,000 as a transitional grant to assist in the change. In addition, Independent Public Schools will be eligible to receive up to a further $50,000 in funding each year to support additional administrative requirements. It is anticipated that this cost will be offset by reduced centralised administrative costs.
State High School in Brisbane won’t necessarily be right for Texas State School or Tully State High. On 21 June 2012 I opened expressions of interest for IPS in line with our 100 day commitment. We have had a great response from school communities eager to become one of Queensland’s first 30 Independent Public Schools in 2013. Queensland’s principals, teachers and local communities recognise that IPS will give them greater control and ownership of their school through greater autonomy in decision making. For example, schools will have more scope to hire their own teachers and manage their school budgets. This will enable schools to tailor their decision making to the individual needs of the school. One of the important aspects of the application process is that schools must demonstrate how they will use their additional autonomy to drive innovation in education. As Minister I would like to see individual schools develop strengths in specific fields of education so that our state schools offer a variety of value propositions. IPS schools will lead the way in innovative education offerings. The IPS initiative is modelled on Western Australian and international successes. Becoming an Independent Public School will be voluntary and selected State schools will represent a balanced cross-section of the entire |4|
Schools taking part in the Queensland IPS initiative will be required to form a School Council. This will ensure community involvement is maximised to enable local decision-making without compromising the valuable support and economies of scale that can be provided through centralising some functions. Stakeholders have made it very clear they do not want the IPS initiative to establish a culture within Queensland of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. To address this concern, and to complement the Federal Government’s Empowering Local Schools (ELS) program, the IPS initiative will provide schools with options that enable all schools to maximise their autonomy in line with their capacity. By 2013 there will be 30 Independent Public Schools in Queensland. Along with an anticipated 62 schools involved in the ELS program, there will be 92 schools across the State with enhanced control over decisionmaking. A prospectus is now available to support the implementation of the Queensland IPS program and an announcement of the first schools to take this step will be made in Term 4. The prospectus can be viewed at http://education.qld.gov. au/schools/independent-public-schools/ resources/ips-prospectus.pdf * **********
Education: the heart of rural and remote communities Andrew Pegler The cost of, and difficulties associated with, access to education are major contributing factors to Queenslandâ€™s declining rural population base. For many rural and remote children distance education is the only option available for the provision of their primary education. Teaching distance education, particularly with the introduction of Curriculum to Classroom (C2C), which is an internetbased system for delivering teaching resources, can be beyond the ability of some parents. Parents have a wide range of education and skill levels. Unless the home tutor happens to have teacher training from some previous life, the curriculum is being delivered face-to-face by an untrained individual. Add to the mix children with learning and/or behavioural difficulties or gifted students whose requirements include extension and the task becomes almost impossible. Even if the parent can cope with the demands of teaching distance education, the time commitment required precludes them from seeking any form of employment. It would be very easy to make the incorrect assumption that with the advent of the home computer, internet and email that the delivery of distance education would become simple. Tools like video streaming, embedded web links in the curriculum, the use of email to return completed work instantaneously, virtual classrooms and interactive white boards all appear
to provide great opportunity for those learning in remote areas. However for many students, access to any or all of the above technologies is limited at best and non-existent at worst. Students who use a satellitebased internet service (other than the NBN Interim Satellite Service) simply do not have the data transmission speeds to successfully log on and work with these types of service delivery. In addition internet plans of sufficient size to enable the up load and down load of large quantities of data are expensive for those families whose only internet access is via satellite and who cannot access the NBN Interim satellite service. Data collected by ICPA Qld Inc reveals that some families are paying internet costs of in excess of $200 per student per month. There are some government allowances available for distance education, such as the Assistance for Isolated Children Distance Education Allowance. However, families are still considerably out of pocket as the cost of establishing, stocking and maintaining a home class room is considerable. Schools of Distance Education strongly recommend one computer for each student in the home class room, but current allowances for computer and data plans are currently calculated by family unit. One way to better reflect the real cost of providing distance education would be to calculate these allowances on
About the Author Andrew Pegler is the President of Isolated Childrenâ€™s Parentsâ€™ Association of Australia Queensland Incorporated (ICPA Qld Inc). ICPA Qld Inc is a voluntary, non-profit, apolitical parent body dedicated to ensuring that all rural and remote students have equity of access to quality education.
a per student basis, not per family. There are also added costs for families to bear, including fuel and accommodation when travelling long distances to attend face-to-face functions such as mini schools, sports carnivals and home tutor workshops. Often boarding school becomes the only practical option for secondary education. For some, this is a decision made at great emotional cost and considerable financial outlay. With the transition of Year 7 into secondary school in 2015, families will have to fund six years of boarding school fees instead of five, with an increase in the likelihood of having a number of children attending boarding school concurrently. Again, there are some State and Federal government allowances available to assist with these costs. However, even more so than with distance education, these allowances, some of which are means tested, offer only limited assistance. The Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) scheme, The Living Away from Home Allowance and the Basic Travel Allowance assist some families. As the CPI education subindex is consistently much higher than the basic CPI (at which allowance increases have been calculated) the gap between the actual costs of education and any allowances has increased dramatically. Independent Schools Queensland reports that school fees have increased across the board by approximately 6 per cent this year, reflecting the higher costs of education provision.1 In addition to the financial impact on families, when remote areas have limited education options it has a drastic impact on local communities. Broadly, this can be categorised into three effects:
whole families leaving communities to access better education; wealth leaving rural grazing enterprises and rural communities; and children leaving for education, but not returning once their education is completed. When the cost of boarding schools is beyond reach, many families pack up and move to be closer to an appropriate education. When that occurs, younger siblings are removed from the local primary school, with a domino effect on services provided, both at that school and in the wider community. This is particularly evident in small rural towns that rely on the business generated by workers such as shearers, contact harvesters, contract mustering providers and the like. Once these workers’ children reach high school, they leave the small communities and move to where their children will have reasonable daily access to a high school. While common sense dictates that governments cannot provide schools in all remote and isolated areas, the provision of education for all is a core responsibility of government. The population of rural and remote Queensland is dependent on the provision of adequate support for the educational needs of its population. Without it, the knock-on social and economic effects resonate across these communities. This support should encompass a home tutor allowance, adequate computer hardware and software allowances and realistic boarding and travel allowances, each calculated on a perstudent basis. Without this support, attracting and retaining families in these areas will become virtually impossible. * **********
The 2012 LNP Convention passed this resolution on education: NUMBER 55 CARRIED SPRINGWOOD STATE ELECTORATE COUNCIL Skills shortage That this Convention of the LNP calls for the LNP Government to direct an additional $10,000,000 towards programs delivering Recognition of Current Competency and Prior Learning, along with associated Gap Training Provision and concurrently change the method of funding from government pays all to government pays 50% and the person undergoing the process also pays 50% for this to also facilitate interstate apprentices transfers. Use the VET fee help system.
Education for st the 21 century Professor Don Markwell
We live in a world of global economic competition, in which an economy’s competitive advantage is increasingly determined by the knowledge and skills of its workers – and in which the career prospects for each individual are increasingly determined by their knowledge and skills. For this reason – as well as because education enriches the lives of people and the communities to which they belong – it is essential that Queensland and Australia have truly world-class education systems. A key question for governments is therefore: do we have a world-class system, and what do we need to do to ensure that we do? A world-class education must equip students for lives and careers in a world of global forces and rapid change (partly driven by developments in science and technology), in which the knowledge and skills they need is likely to grow and change with ever-faster speed. This requires the ability to think clearly, to communicate effectively, to see the often-changing connections between fields of knowledge, to adapt to new challenges and to cope with uncertainty, to continue learning throughout their lives, and to work in teams as well as independently.
About the Author
Professor Don Markwell is the Warden of Rhodes House, Oxford and a Visiting Professor at the University of Queensland. He is the author of “A large and liberal education: Higher Education for the 21st Century” (2007), and several papers on this topic, accessible via www.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk.
In many education systems around the world, it is increasingly realised that, appropriately refreshed for the 21st century (including with increasing emphasis on scientific understanding), liberal education – education that nurtures intellectual and personal breadth, and A world-class the capacities for critical thinking and clear communication – is education must an important means of preparing students of high potential for equip students for fulfilling lives and careers, and for active citizenship, in the world lives and careers in of the future. Such liberal education should, of course, be founded on strong fundamental skills, including of literacy and numeracy, developed in world-class schooling. World-class schooling involves teachers of high aptitude who are well prepared for teaching their disciplines, with clear and substantive curricula, and with reliable assessment.
a world of global forces and rapid change.
A world-class education system also involves a diversity of tertiary education opportunities in a higher education system that encourages outstanding teaching and learning, and contributes to our innovative capacity through cuttingedge research. At a time when many other countries are seeking to offer university education comparable to the best in the world, ensuring sufficient resources for high-quality higher education – from public and private sources, including fees (with loans and strong equity measures) and philanthropy – is a major challenge for Australia. **********
Does Queensland need an inquiry into falling school student performance in maths and science? Dr John Ridd
About the Author John Ridd is a retired secondary schoolteacher and coauthor of a series of maths textbooks for years 8, 9 and 10. He is a former member of the Moderation Committee of the Queensland Board of Senior Secondary School Studies. He was awarded his Doctorate in 2004, with a thesis on the topic Participation in Physics and rigorous Maths and a consideration of educational, economic and political influences. |8|
Two of Australia’s Chief Scientists, Ian Chubb recently and Robin Batterham some years ago expressed concern over the condition of “maths, science and other vital disciplines” - the “enabling sciences” - in Australia, as they foreshadowed the prospect that we would be overtaken by more competitive education systems. An examination of data from the International Trends in Maths and Science Studies (TIMSS) reveals a deplorable weakness in the condition of maths and the numerical sciences in Queensland. As you consider the data below, keep in mind that the average result for TIMSS is a score of 500. Maths, Grade 4
Maths, Grade 8
Science, Grade 4
Science, Grade 8
HIGHEST PERFORMERS Hong Kong, 607
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 529 (11th) UNITED KINGDOM 541 (7th) AUSTRALIA 516 (14th)
A clear picture of the effect of recent Australian education policy is painted by change in these scores: in the period from 1995 to 2007 the USA gained 17 points, the UK gained 16, but Australia lost 13 points. The TIMSS tests award a rating of ‘Advanced’ to students who score highly. It provides an indicator of those countries who develop higher numbers of students into top performers. Australia and Queensland also under-perform by this measure: Maths, Grade 4
Maths, Grade 8
Science, Grade 4
Science, Grade 8
Hong Kong, 40%
The implications of these feeble performances for our more gifted children are severe. Algebra, considered the “gateway to further mathematics” because of the crucial work it plays in more advanced mathematics. Weak results in algebra inevitably cause trouble for students as they are expected to build upon that knowledge later. TIMSS results for algebra in Grade 8 were: Taiwan (Taipei)
All of the five top performing countries were East Asian, with scores of greater than 558. Those countries are Australia’s local and global competitors, both in the education industry and in the economy as a whole. In that context Australia’s performance is embarrassing. Queensland had predictably weak National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (known as NAPLAN) results, ranking second last, just above the Northern Territory. It was a shock to many. Then Premier Anna Bligh described the results as “a wake-up call”. She requested the Australian Council for Educational Research (known as ACER) to examine the situation. ACER’s report, titled “A Shared Challenge” (2009), analysed the situation and made a series of recommendations.
A ‘flavour’ of the document can be gained by looking at these graphs and quotations.
We must accept and implement as soon as possible Jensen’s recommendation that "the current measures of school performance published in the My School website should be replaced with value added measures of school performance, given their greater accuracy and fairness to schools serving poorer communities.
Figure 2.9 Trends in Year 4 mean scores in mathematics TIMSS 1995 to 2007
Figure 2.10 Trends in Year 4 mean scores in science TIMSS 1995 to 2007
The data showed that education in Queensland at year 4 is not improving, and in science, standards are falling. ACER’s accompanying remarks included: "…at Year 8 also, the absolute performances of Queensland students were unchanged or declined non-significantly between 1995 and 2007." "…Australian primary school students, and particularly students in Queensland, perform well below world-best standards in mathematics and science." "…there has been a decline in the relative performance of Queensland students in mathematics and science over several | 10 |
decades.’ From ‘…1964 to 1995, the absolute decline in lower secondary mathematics achievement appears to have been greater than in any other state, and to have been the equivalent of about two years of schooling." "In the mid-1960s, Queensland junior secondary students outperformed students in all other Australian states in mathematics. …From the late 1970s, there was a significant decline in levels of junior secondary mathematics performance in Queensland."
So what is the cause of these problems? The Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth (known as LSAYR 20), proved that school type (that is, whether it is public or private) is not the driver of these results. Individual schools influence outcomes. School types do not. It is not class size: there is no evidence anywhere of a relationship between class size and results. It is not money: in the 1970’s I taught at Innisfail State High School. There were no lights in the classrooms, no fans, class sizes were much greater than nowadays, and we produced maths and science outcomes far higher than happens nowadays. The problem is "The Education Establishment"; the two main wings of which are University education faculties and the Queensland Studies Authority (known as the QSA). Education faculties are the source of the background theories on how to educate. As the TIMSS data shows, the theoreticians’ ideas have palpably failed. As university education faculties are also responsible for teacher training, their influence permeates widely throughout the school system. The action wing is the powerful Queensland Studies Authority. They produce all syllabi and assessment systems for all subjects in all schools of all types throughout the State. They have strong authoritarian tendencies, and their assessment systems are laid down with absolute rigidity. In Years 11 and 12 sciences, there must be Extended Experimental Investigations (known as EEIs) and Extended Response Tasks (known as ERTs) that go on for months at a time, allowing pupils to obtain the assistance of others (parents, tutors, siblings) such that the final product is often of dubious provenance, and facilitates minimal real learning. But it is
not just that EEIs and ERTs use up a vast amount of time for little learning outcome. Because the process drives at the production of long reports they teach habits that are contrary to the practices and skills of real scientific method. It is bad science to reward waffle. Science is about cogency, precision. The QSA’s assessment structures are complex, non-numerate, opaque, furtive and have unclear rules and systems. A matrix of results must be completed with letters, not scores, and then the teacher uses those letters to come to an overall assessment using an unclear technique. Exam papers are never available to anyone for examination and comment. Fear of reprisal silences criticism. Because of the authoritarian nature of the assessment systems, QSA effectively control the pedagogy, that is, the way things are taught. The National Curriculum syllabi will not help much either, because the States control assessments and the QSA has already stated that such things as EEIs and ERTs will stay.
So, what is to be done? Some pointers were revealed by ACER in "A Shared Challenge": "All top performing schools recognise that they cannot improve that which they do not measure". "Top performing schools are relentless in their focus on improving the quality of classroom instruction" "All of the top performing and rapidly improving systems have curriculum standards which set clear and high expectations of what students should achieve." In this writer’s opinion, no QSA syllabus meets that standard. Schools need "well developed systems for evaluating and monitoring performances." ACER recommended "That all aspiring primary teachers be required to demonstrate through test performance, as a condition of registration, that they meet threshold levels of knowledge about the teaching of literacy, numeracy and science and have sound levels of content knowledge in these areas." ACER also recommended "That standard science tests be introduced at Years 4, 6, 8 and 10".
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ACER observed that in high performing Victorian schools, "Each of the schools has been particularly active in identifying tests and other assessments which contribute to an objective picture of student achievement and to the determination of the value that the school itself adds, through analysis of trends over time." Valuable as NAPLAN is, it requires development. Dr Ben Jensen of the Grattan Institute, in his work "Measuring what Matters: Student Progress", states that “the ‘My School’ website is considerably better than having no information published on school performance. However, problems still exist because …[it] can produce biased results for schools in low socioeconomic areas." He argues that there needs to be a process of “value adding” in education. Value adding can be defined as "…models that estimate the contributions of schools to student progress …measured at at least two points in time (OECD 2008)". Jensen states that value adding is more accurate and that “greater accuracy resulted in head teachers in England favouring the introduction of a system of value-added [teaching]…”. He explains that it is preferred in Europe for the same reason, and that “Teacher unions and school associations in a number of countries have also supported the introduction of value added modelling as the greater accuracy creates a fairer system, particularly for schools serving more disadvantaged communities.” NAPLAN is already having a positive effect on teaching in many schools. A value added system would have an even greater impact. Only Parliament can institute the drastic changes needed to syllabi, assessment systems, teacher training and school attitudes, because at present the QSA and university education faculties think everything is either fine or minimally imperfect and will resist the change required.
So, what should the new Queensland Government do? Five steps are worth consideration and action: Form a permanent standing committee of Parliament for school education. The committee should, inter alia, examine assessment systems, causes of weak performance to Year 10 exit, and obtain opinions from parents and students under as part of a parliamentary inquiry. | 12 |
Accept the ACER recommendation that all aspiring primary teachers must be able to demonstrate a reasonable level of knowledge in maths, science and English. That must occur by formal testing, set externally and supervised in a manner not less rigorous than for the Core Skills Test. Suggested minimal achievement should be at NAPLAN year 9/10 standard and with an 85% pass level. Past papers, marking schemes, pass marks and pass rates should be available for perusal by Parliament and the public. Insert in the Queensland Studies Authority Act 2002 (Qld) a Regulation stipulating that all assessment systems must be clearly defined, justifiable and produce predictable, measurable outcomes. They must be clearly understandable to students, parents and Parliamentarians and must not discriminate against any student group. With the introduction of the Australian curriculum the only remaining activities that QSA has to do are Year 11 and 12 assessment, supervision of core skills testing and OP calculation. All other activities, notably enforcement of pedagogy in Years 1-10, are unnecessary, produce even lower standards and are purely “make work”. It is now a rump organisation and must be treated and financed as such. Employee numbers and general costs should be reduced proportionately, probably by about 70%. The savings achieved by doing so would be large; far more than the cost of introducing of value added testing. Accept and implement as soon as possible Jensen’s recommendation that "the current measures of school performance published in the ‘My school’ website should be replaced with value added measures of school performance, given their greater accuracy and fairness to schools serving poorer communities". Implementation of these measures will help to turn around the results of Queensland’s students. We must act to do so before another generation of students emerges from our education system without the skills needed to compete in the modern world. * *******
Maths, not “Bloom-in” Education Dr Matthew Dean
Have you noticed how school graduates generally do not know their times-tables, cannot add fractions or do long division? Even at The University of Queensland, I am finding that the students starting science and engineering degrees are not confident with standard mathematical skills. Mathematics is the language of the physical world. Science and technology rely on mathematics. Studying mathematics develops sound reasoning, and has been a core discipline pursuing clarity of thought for thousands of years. So why are we presently failing to pass on this gift now?
What is wrong? Maths' teachers with over twenty years' experience in Queensland, and those teachers who have also taught in other systems, can readily explain what is wrong with our school system: the reason kids do not know their timestables is because our teachers of maths have been instructed not to have students memorise facts! The reason kids do not know how to add
fractions, and do not know how to do long division, and do not have confidence in doing mathematical procedures, is because teachers of maths, at all school levels, have been instructed to de-emphasize the standard algorithms, and not to use repetition. No, it’s not a terrorist giving our teachers these instructions. It’s the recent fashion of educational ideology endorsed by our educational theorists. This ideology is attributed to the 1950s psychologist, Bloom. He regards activities such as remembering and understanding as ‘lower order’ activities while activities like application and evaluation are considered ‘higher order’. Bloom’s theory of ‘higher-order-thinking’ may have appeal in some sectors, but it is not
About the Author Dr Matthew Dean teaches mathematics at The University of Queensland. He has researched capacitance for silicon chip design, the detonation of mining explosives, symmetrical network problems, highway curvature, and image processing of cells. He has taught mathematics in local schools and abroad. In the course of his career, he has also swung a sledge-hammer, washed dishes, crawled through ceilings, and delivered donuts.
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suited to mathematics, since Another way that Bloom’s With our mathematics, much like learning ideology inhibits developing emphasis on soto play a musical instrument, maths' skills in our schools is requires years of practice and through the introduction of written called ‘higherrepetition. Following Bloom, order’ thinking, we assignments into mathematics' our school maths has become assessment. Written assignments have neglected the do not build basic mathematical instead like one of those ‘musical basics. This has appreciation courses’ where skills, like regular homework students are briefly exposed to been disastrous for and studying for an exam does. a sweeping range of topics, but Written assignments belong in learning maths. never really learn how to play. English, rather than in maths' Our students are not asked to class, and they also tend to be do the practice necessary to be able to play done with the input of parents, tutors, friends a musical instrument. The musical instrument or the internet, rather than by the student referred to in this analogy is of course the mind. alone. High school chemistry and physics are suffering even more than mathematics by the With our emphasis on so-called ‘higher-order’ inappropriate introduction of very long written thinking, we have neglected the basics. This has assignments. been disastrous for learning maths. Maths is a ‘vertically condensed’ discipline, building upon The imposition of Bloom’s ideology also creates itself from one year to the next: Calculus relies much red tape. The paperwork requirements on advanced algebra, which relies on simple placed on teachers waste so much time that algebra, which relies on standard arithmetic, they are obstructive to learning. For example, which relies on knowledge of the times-tables. when a teacher marks a maths' test, he/she is Only half-knowing maths one year means only forbidden from awarding a (number) mark for one-quarter-knowing it the next year, and only each question and adding these up to get a one-eighth-knowing it the year after that, and total score. Instead, for each question, teachers so on, until you’re having nightmares about must award letter grades, over three different arriving at school on the day of the exam, categories. The appropriate letter is to be completely unprepared. chosen by reading and considering up to fifty paragraphs of descriptors. Here is one of the I can’t help but think that Bloom’s followers will fifty such paragraphs: not consider maths as ‘higher-order’ until they have turned it into something it is not. It appears “The student work has the following to me that university-level mathematics is still characteristics: considered a ‘lower-order’ activity according to use of problem solving strategies to interpret, Bloom’s taxonomy. clarify and analyze problems to develop responses to routine and non-routine simple tasks in life-related or abstract situations” | 14 |
Thus a task which is done by every teacher for every student on every piece of assessment, which should be simple and routine, is in Queensland, not simple at all, but instead a festival of cultural deliberation. After all these festivities, the mystery of how to combine the letter grades begins. Later on, this combination emerges somehow transfigured, on the report to parents, as one of maybe five uncomfortablyworded sentences. The whole process proceeds officially uncontaminated by numbers. “How is Johnny going in maths?” remains the question on everyone’s lips.
How can we fix it? Education theory and psychology are relatively new and speculative areas of study, with frequently changing ideas. In hindsight, we might question why we ever placed an educational theorist into a position of authority over the process of learning mathematics. It doesn’t seem appropriate to subject a whole population to unproven ideas of a speculative nature. People have been learning mathematics for thousands of years. Traditional approaches are safer and more reliable. The key to fixing this problem is to have experts in the actual discipline of study responsible for the curriculum and assessment of that discipline, rather than appointing education theorists who imagine that every kind of learning is the same. When it comes to mathematics', an appropriate panel of experts might consist of very experienced maths teachers, engineers and mathematicians. Physicists, chemists and economists might also be appropriate.
(Caution: degrees called ‘mathematics' 'education’ generally consist of only a little or no mathematics, and a lot of ‘education’.) However we decide to restructure, and who ever we appoint, the new body governing mathematics in school must be accountable, unlike the Queensland Studies Authority, which was set up as a statutory body, answerable only to itself. I feel that we should keep state sovereignty over education as much as possible, even though the proposed national curriculum looks better than our present one. My reason for this is if or when, the national education bodies begin to move down silly paths, then it will be so much more difficult to turn them around. Will the national body appoint people who do mathematics, or people who do education? There is some good news: 1) our current low performance in maths is not due to any intrinsic or innate stupidity, 2) this problem can be solved, and 3) it is not an issue of needing to spend more time or money. A good mathematics' course will build a student’s confidence in his/her own ability to reason clearly and correctly. After completion, a student may go on to apply this ability to his/ her chosen pursuits in life. May we grant this privilege to every generation. * *******
The 2012 LNP Convention passed this resolution on education: NUMBER 10 CARRIED LNP WOMEN (HERVEY BAY) Review teaching and learning in Prep and Primary schools That this Convention of the LNP calls for the LNP Government to review, as soon as possible, the state of teaching and learning in Prep and Primary schools by: a. Conducting an extensive review of the C2C centrally based curriculum with the view (to) allowing teachers to teach and children to learn in a positive environment, b. Continuing to closely monitor the implementation of the National Curriculum so that the Queensland teachers and children do not face the stress at the beginning of 2013 that they are currently experiencing in term 1 2012, and c. Developing positive communication with practising teachers and valuing their feedback and that adequate time frames be provided for writing the lessons to provide quality education for Queenslanders.
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Challenges and Opportunities for Australian Higher Education Senator the Hon. Brett Mason
What is our countryâ€™s biggest non-mineral export? Which export services industry earns Australian more money than even tourism? What is the largest industry in cities like Melbourne and Armidale? If your answer to all three questions is education, you are right. Knowledge is power. It is also business and opportunity for the future. Higher education in particular is important for our country because it enhances our productivity and builds a more resilient economy. Australian students benefit from university study and the entire country shares in those benefits. But our universities face a big challenge over the next decade in trying to absorb a large number of additional students, with limited additional resources, and without sacrificing the quality of education. Universities are being asked to do more with less because there are more students coming in under the new, student demand-driven system commencing this year. Universities will invariably have to increase class sizes, squeeze more students into existing facilities and increase the workload of academics. There are productivity gains to be made in the sector but there is a point where quality is compromised for the sake of efficiency. Universities will be left with limited options. | 16 |
They can plead with the government for more money but the budgetary positions of the state and federal governments has deteriorated so much that the cupboard is literally bare when it comes to extra university funding. Universities should try to tap into non-government sources of income by marketing the gains the business community stands to make through financing the university sector. Additionally, universities should make better use of technology to help in the delivery of education to take pressure off university infrastructure. In this pursuit of expansion and increased participation, the university sector cannot be allowed to meander into mediocrity. Quality cannot be sacrificed for quantity. In an equation where resources, participation and standards are all variables, the Coalition considers standards to be non-negotiable. While we are faced with these challenges in our university sector, there exist enormous opportunities for the future of international tertiary education in Australia. So long as quality and standards are maintained we should have more international students in Australia. In terms of exports, education benefits the Australian economy nearly as much as gold and a few billion dollars more than tourism. Itâ€™s not our beaches, the Great Barrier Reef or the Outback that are bringing in most visitors to Australia, itâ€™s our universities.
It’s not our beaches, the Great Barrier Reef or the Outback that are bringing in most visitors to Australia, it’s our universities.
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P 1800 640 509 About the Author
Senator the Hon. Brett Mason is the Shadow Minister for Universities and Research. He has served in the Federal Parliaament since 1998.
Spectacular natural beauty and abundant natural resources make Australia a lucky country. But a successful, world-class education sector makes us a smart country. Australia should try to depend more on our smarts than our luck in the future, especially given the prospects of a rapidly increasing Asian middle class. Australia should not be satisfied with merely being the breadbasket of Asia and the world, or its mining pit, when it can also be its lecture hall. Australia is a superpower in mining, agriculture – and higher education. We educate more overseas students per capita than any other nation on earth. Australia educates our young people and those from foreign lands exceptionally well. But we can do better. This will be the Coalition’s challenge. * *******
The 2012 LNP Convention passed these resolution on education: NUMBER 7 CARRIED NOOSA STATE ELECTORATE COUNCIL Removal of environmental propaganda material That this Convention of the LNP calls on the Minister for Education to require Queensland government schools to remove environmental propaganda material. in particular post normal science about ‘climate change’,from the curriculum and as adjunct material at exam time.
NUMBER 16 CARRIED MAROOCHYDORE STATE ELECTORATE COUNCIL Directive Qld Studies Authority Langbroek That this Convention of the LNP calls for the LNP Government and the Minister for Education to issue a directive to the Queensland Studies Authority: a. to continue to write external exams for mathematics and science and that all schools be allowed to use these external exams over the two senior years of school so that fair comparability be achieved between schools; and b. to allow schools to use marks to assess students, rather than the criteria sheets that currently have to be filled out for each student for each piece of assessment.
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What is the Policy Standing Committee? Richard Williams
A number of people at Convention asked me about the Policy Standing Committee (PSC) and its role. The LNP Constitution states: 'There shall be a Policy Standing Committee which shall: (a) co-ordinate the activities of the respective Policy Committees so as to ensure that the policies of the Party are consistent with one another; and
Each committee has three essential functions:
(b) monitor the development of policy and philosophy generally'.
1. t o provide good policy ideas to our government;
The PSC is the overarching body for all the policy committees, There are currently 27 with a focus on state activities (education, health, police etc.) and 7 with a federal focus (defence, foreign affairs, taxation etc.). At the last State Council, delegates approved the establishment of a Research Committee; its role will be to carry out primary research. Each policy committee has a Policy Chair who is appointed, usually in July of each year, for 12Â months. Each person on the PSC is a volunteer.
2. to provide a warning system of potential policy problems; and
Individual policy committees structure their membership to assemble the skill sets they need. It's amazing the experience, qualifications and | 18 |
skills that can be drawn from the membership of the LNP. Each committee member is an expert in their policy field. The calibre of the PSC is a resource that would be unaffordable, but it comes free. Interestingly, the Policy Chairs are largely not interested in representative politics. Their interest is contribution to policy and its development, and as such a great resource for Ministerâ€™s offices.
3. to consider draft legislation. The PSC membership includes federal, state and local representatives - these are Senator Brett Mason, Sean Choat MP (Ipswich West), Carl Judge MP (Yeerongpilly) and Councillor Andrew Wines (Brisbane City Council). I've asked all committees to develop an activity plan for the period to next Convention. This plan will identify issues that are important to the organisation and its members. These should turn into party policy initiatives that can go to
the Government for consideration or resolutions that can go to Convention for adoption as Party policy. This is an opportunity for members to contribute to setting this agenda of work and attached at the end of Dialogue is a list of all committees and their chairs. If you have an issue you'd like considered or you would like to make a contribution please see the list of Policy Chairs on page 20. I've been asked what happens to resolutions that are passed by delegates at Convention: passed resolutions become Party policy. State-related resolutions are referred to the parliamentary team for consideration as possible Government policy. The parliamentary team is required to report back to State Council on what action is taken in relation to each resolution. Federalrelated resolutions are referred to the federal team for action. The policy committees monitor the progress of these resolutions.
Our recent election win provides a great opportunity to contribute to our stateâ€™s future â€“ grasp it!
Best Wishes Richard Williams â€“ Chair Policy Standing Committee email: email@example.com
The resolutions submitted for the last Convention showed a high level of thought by party units. There is always scope for improvement and I encourage party units to work with the relevant policy committee in shaping up a resolution.
This is an opportunity for members to contribute to setting the agenda.
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COMMITTEE STRUCTURE and POLICY CHAIRS FOR THE POLICY STANDING COMMITTEE â€“ 2012-2013 COMMITTEE
Policy Standing Committee
STATE State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Colin Ryan AM
Treasury and Trade
Education, Training and Employment
Dr Barry Arnison OAM
Police and Corrective Services
Attorney-General and Justice
Dr Dominic Katter
Transport and Main Roads
Housing and Public Works
Roger du Blet
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Environment and Heritage Protection
Natural Resources and Mines
Energy and Water Supply
Brian Restall (nominee)
Science, IT and Innovation
National Parks and Recreation
Tourism and Major Events
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
Brig. Rod West (Rtd)
Population and Social Issues
Dr Christian Rowan
Communication and Media Issues
David M Russell
Federalism and Decentralisation
Competition and Corporate Regulation
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Near & Farce
Professor Kenneth Wiltshire A
... Meanwhile, at the next federal election...
by Washington & Irving
The Australian people teach Labor about the carbon tax
☛ The Canadian Public Policy Forum is an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving the quality of government in Canada through enhanced dialogue among the public, private and voluntary sectors. www.ppforum.ca ☛ The Economic and Social Research Council is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. www.esrc.ac.uk ☛ The Institute for Government in the UK has produced a paper suggesting open policy making by government should be the ‘default’. It’s called ‘Opening up policy making’. www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/publications/opening-policymaking ☛ On 5 July 2012 the Rt Hon John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand addressed the Menzies Research Centre, with a talk on ‘Reflections from New Zealand’. In it, he said “The New Zealand economy lost competitiveness in the 2000s because growth was built on all the wrong things – debt, consumption and a 50 per cent increase in government spending in just five years.” Click to read the speech in full. www.mrcltd.org.au/news/index.html ☛ The Institute of Public Affairs is running an awareness campaign about the Gillard Government’s attacks on freedom of the press in Australia. To support their campaign, or to find out more, click: http://pressfreedom.ipa.org.au/ ☛ On 17 August 2012 Professor Peter Shergold AC addressed the Menzies Research Centre on the subject ‘Does Australia need a Big Society?’ Here is the transcript of his address on this important topic. www.mrcltd.org.au/news/BLOND%20SHERGOLD%20BREAKFAST%20 (CORRS)%20(17%20August%202012).pdf | 21 |
Interested in contributing to Dialogue? Contact the editorial team at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know your area of interest. Advertising enquiries, letters to the editor and your feedback and comments are welcome.
Does your party unit need help with policy development?
The Policy Standing Committee is here to assist, and can provide information and training on how to develop effective policy motions. Let us know how we can assist your party unit via email to email@example.com
Editor: Amanda Stoker Editorial team: Richard Williams, Wendy Armstrong, David M Russell Dr Barry Arnison OAM (Education, Training and Employment Policy Committee Chair) Feature contributors: The Hon. John-Paul Langbroek, Senator the Hon. Brett Mason, Prof. Don Markwell, Dr John Ridd, Dr Matthew Dean, Andrew Pegler
Comment by Gavin Hughes, General Manager, United Petroleum
Why does Queensland need a Mandate on Ethanol? Have you got one of these stickers near the petrol cap on your car? Noticed it when you go to fill up? Heard about ethanol but not sure if it’s right for you? Read on to learn more about ethanol and what it can do for you, your car and our State. First, what is ethanol?
Is there plenty of ethanol around?
Bioethanol - or ‘ethanol’ - is an alcohol made by fermenting the sugar and/or starch components of plant materials by using yeast such as saccharomyces cerevisae. Ethanol can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form as a replacement for petrol, but it is usually blended with petrol as a 10% blend (eg: E10) or 85% blend (E85).
Despite some contrary media reports, the Queensland ethanol industry has the ability to supply 140 million litres per year right now with the option to expand to 165 million litres without considerable additional investment. Future plans exist to expand production to 240 million litres.
Almost all ethanol in Queensland is produced sustainably from either molasses (a by-product of sugar cane) or sorghum (grain). After the production process has extracted the sugar/starch from the feedstock for ethanol production, what remains is either recycled as a fertilizer or as stockfeed - ensuring nothing is lost from the food production cycle.
Why is ethanol good for the environment? The environmental benefits are significant, providing a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, with lower carbon and particulate emissions. A 10% ethanol blended biofuel could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 3-7% compared to unleaded petrol.
What about health benefits? The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has supported the view that there are strong community health benefits from ethanol use, due to reduced carbon and particulate emissions. Ethanol at 10% in petrol reduces hydrocarbon emissions by up to 30% and particulate emissions by up to a massive 50%.
But is it good for my car? The common E10 blend in Australia provides greater combustion efficiency and is sold at a reduced cost to normal unleaded (due to fuel excise exemption). According to the NRMA, E10 has been shown to have little to no effect on fuel economy. Car enthusiasts commonly use higher ethanol blends.
So is it more expensive? Ethanol blended fuel is the cheapest fuel type available because ethanol is exempt from Federal Government excise duties. At today’s average prices, motorists should purchase ethanol blend E10 for around 3 cents per litre cheaper than unleaded petrol. Unfortunately not all of the major fuel companies and petrol retailers elect to pass on the full excise benefits. Ethanol blended fuels have the added advantage of environmental, health and performance benefits – which are hard to put a price on.
How do I find out more?
Does ethanol production impact on food production, that is do we have to choose food or fuel? One myth about ethanol production, especially from grain, is that it negatively impacts on food production and cost. In the case of sorghum, traditionally this grain is fed to livestock as it is high in protein. Nothing changes once the grain is processed in an ethanol plant, all of the protein remains and distillers’ grain is still used as feedstock as a protein feed. It is not a question of food versus fuel, rather fuel plus food.
What does the LNP have to do to encourage the ethanol industry? The LNP Convention recently voted in favour of a mandate on ethanol. If this mandate is legislated it would mean certainty for the ethanol industry (which means jobs, investment and industry diversity in the sugar cane and grain growing regions) and more choice for motorists. It would also mean environmental and health benefits for the entire community. It is proposed that Queensland commence with a 3% mandate with an increase to 5-6% in July 2014.
Will Queensland be the first state to introduce a mandate? No, New South Wales has enjoyed the benefits of a similar mandate since 2007 – including massive investment in regional grain production, manufacturing and distribution infrastructure and the considerable flow on benefits to employment and economic activity. Australia is one of the few OECD countries yet to implement a mandate.
Given the state of Queensland’s finances, would an ethanol mandate cost the Government money? A mandate has virtually no cost to the State but can deliver great benefits to Queenslanders. The major oil companies and retailers can deliver the 3% mandate without additional costs for infrastructure.
For more information please visit www.biofuelsassociation.com.au
Ethanol is better for the air we all breathe
...by replacing Australiaâ€™s total annual consumption of gasoline with ethanol, we would reduce our CO2 emissions to 4 million tonnes, saving 40 million tonnes per year. Source: Biofuels Association of Australia