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the professional voice of the Independent Education Union independent education|issue 2|Vol 42|2012

• Teacher performance vs development • Embracing difference • Time to scrap NAPLAN

Countering conflict Everyone has a role

The story behind this image New teachers, like Amnathkeo Bounthavy (seen above teaching reading), participate in workshops supported by our Teacher2Teacher program. The workshops - which bring together new teachers from some of the poorest and most remote districts in Laos - allow the sharing of experiences and seeking of solutions to the challenges they face on a daily basis.

Union Aid Abroad APHEDA APHEDA

The overseas humanitarian aid agency of the ACTU The overseas humanitarian aid agency of the ACTU

Executive Editors John Quessy Deb James Terry Burke Managing Editor Tara de Boehmler Editorial Committee Cathy Hickey Fiona Stutz Tara de Boehmler Sandra White Sue Osborne Journalists Tara de Boehmler Sue Osborne Fiona Stutz Design Chris Ruddle About us IE is a tri-annual journal published by the NSW/ACT, VicTas and Qld/NT Independent Education Unions for members and subscribers. It has a circulation of more than 65,000. IE’s contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the IEU or the editors nor imply endorsement by them. Email NSW: VIC/TAS: QLD/NT: IE online Contributions Contributions and letters from members are welcome. Printing does not reflect endorsement and contributions may be edited at the editor’s discretion. Email Advertising Chris Ruddle (02) 9779 3200 Advertising is carried in IE in order to minimise costs. Advertising does not in any way reflect endorsement of the products or services. Subscriptions IE is available free to members of the IEU, or by subscription. Kayla Skorupon: (02) 9779 3200 Printing Print & Mail: (02) 9519 8268 ISSN 1320-9825

Countering conflict


Acceptable use policies and social media

In the frame P18


Countering conflict



Unlikely gym star - Diana Williams


Australia wide

Professional and industrial

news from the states and territories



The road to respect



Countering conflict


Teaching + learning

Time to scrap NAPLAN


Is Australia losing the education ranking race?


Embrace difference in your classroom


In the frame - Visual arts and the national curriculum


Deadly addition to maths resources


Under the spotlight - Performance v development



Rethinking principal appraisal


Mentoring - benefits and models


Diverse roles Technology

Role with the write stuff


Speedy PD beauty of TeachMeets



Acceptable use policles and social media


Sustainable classrooms

Café serves up lesson in sustainability


Talking point/dairy

How important is competitive team sport in school? P32


Dickens on screen

P34 independent education| issue 2|2012|3

voice of essional Union the prof t Educationl 42|2012 2|Vo penden the Indent education|issue

mance r perfor • Teache opment vs devel erence cing diff N • Embra NAPLA ap to scr • Time


ring Countet confloic ne Every role has a

This Edition

Countering conflict Stick an item about school conflict or bullying in the news and you are guaranteed a strong response. Everyone has a point of view and many have experienced it first-hand. With relationships so central in the learning environment, it’s not surprising that conflict does arise. Some of it is even healthy, where those involved learn to navigate it in a way that leaves everyone more empowered, with a ‘situation’ clarified as a result. But all too often this is not the experience of those targeted. In ‘Countering conflict’, starting on p10, we look at various forms of conflict that play-out in school settings, how it impacts on students and staff, and strategies for reducing instances and taking appropriate steps when it does arise. While conflict can have a serious impact on wellbeing, it is far from the only stressor for school students today. On p15, NSW Parent’s Council President Stephen Grieve reveals overwhelming evidence that high stakes testing, like NAPLAN, constitutes a direct threat to the wellbeing of children. On p16 IEU VicTas Organiser Cathy Hickey looks at the risk in involving ourselves in an ‘education race’ with other nations. When the competition is unhealthy, catering for diverse learning needs can get tricky. But University of Southern Queensland Lecturer Stephen Hughes argues on p17 that dealing with diversity should be “at the front of the planning, not an add-on”. One program that does just this is YuMI Deadly Maths (p20) which advocates that educators are central to effective mathematics teaching through the relationships they develop with students, through tailoring programs to their specific needs, by reacting to student responses and by developing teaching plans based on evidence of their students’ performance. Your Union is never opposed to measuring performance, whether student or staff, as long as the data collected is meaningful, used responsibly and with fairness, and actually increases support rather than erodes it. See p21 to see how measuring teacher performance can better be employed for the purpose of development. We hope you enjoy the read and, as always, we invite you to send feedback and story leads to 4|independent education| issue 2|2012

If I liked a subject I wanted to do well and I wanted to do well quickly. I wasn’t into sports or fitness at all.


Diana Williams

Unlikely gym star As a teenager hiding under her school’s stage to escape physical education, Diana Williams would never have guessed she would one day grow up to establish the nation’s most successful women’s gym chain. The Fernwood founder tells IE Journalist Tara de Boehmler how everything changed when a new passion took hold.

I grew up on a farm and went to a consolidated primary and secondary school in rural Victoria until the end of Year 6. From Year 7 I boarded at Girton Girls Grammar School and it wasn’t until I left that I realised how great that was. Boarding school provided a wonderful opportunity for me to become more worldly and independent with an ability to fend for myself. But, of course, you do lose touch with family a bit, so there are two sides to it. As a student I wasn’t an academic and the focus in those days was not on having a career. It was just presumed this was not something we aspired to, unless one was extremely academically inclined or had a wish to be a scientist or something. My school reports often said I had the potential to do really well if I applied myself better. What I was really good at was applying myself to the things I liked, as I would get obsessed. My favourite subjects were history, biology and it was in an exam for Year 11 biology that I learnt a valuable lesson. If I liked a subject I wanted to do well and I wanted to do well quickly. So not only did I plan to get 100%, I also planned to be the first to finish the exam. When I’d completed the paper I walked out quickly and my classmates and I chatted about it as each of us finished. Someone asked me what I wrote for the question on the back and I said: ‘What back?’ It turned out that each side of the paper was worth 50% so I needed to get full marks for the part I’d completed to pass. Instead I got 48% and failed. I left school in Year 11 but I couldn’t stand the fact I’d failed a subject I loved and that I knew so well. I ended up doing that subject again the following year by correspondence, just so I could re-sit the exam. I feel that, in life, self-confidence is everything. I was not confident when I was at school, other than knowing I had a high level of intelligence in areas I was good at. I wasn’t

into sports or fitness at all, to the point that I would hide under the stage in the school hall when PE was on. When we had sports carnivals and we had to participate in a sport, I would play tennis, softball, netball or swimming. But I wouldn’t be picked for a team until it was at the tail end. When I left school I worked in a television station, which I really enjoyed. It was such a new and interesting time in television back then. It was all inexperience, with people running around and transmission breaking down every second day. I stayed until I got pregnant with my first child and while I was at home raising children I did a business accounting course through TAFE. Years later, when my children were at the school-leaving stage, I joined a gym with a friend as I wanted to lose some weight. This is when the passion came about. I got into weights and strength training and I was very excited about the results from just putting in half an hour or so three times a week. I changed my body shape and my metabolism improved in a short period of time. Not many women went to that gym – they didn’t feel at home with all the guys there. I got speaking to the manager about setting up something for women. He had some spare equipment and we got some more second hand. We rented a classroom in my old boarding school, which had relocated, for six months. But within just a few months we had so many members we no longer had enough room or equipment. I had looked at this as a hobby but when it was time to find a new location I realised it had become a business. We brought in the experts to build a brand and it basically just happened from there. It is a bit odd that I went to boarding school and then set up a women’s gym. Also, that school eventually moved back to its old site and became co-educational. Today it’s called Girton Grammar School and, in the classroom that I rented for my first gym, my grandchildren are now getting their education. independent education| issue 2|2012|5

Australia Wide NSW Govt shows true colours The NSW O’Farrell Liberal Government, elected just over a year ago, hasn’t taken long to show its true leanings towards working people, NSW/ACT IEU Organiser Sandra White writes. In its first year the Government attacked the State Industrial Relations Commission, seriously limiting its powers and instituting a public sector ‘wage cap’, which effectively freezes NSW Catholic systemic teachers salaries in the same way. This year the O’Farrell Government is legislating to increase penalties for strike action to $220,000 per day, a direct attempt to nobble workers from taking action to improve their ‘capped’ pay and conditions.

The most recent target was NSW Workers Compensation entitlements with the Government pushing through legistation to cut injured workers entitlements and erode workers compensation rights. Some of the changes see workers losing protection on their way to and from work, medical expenses capped, and compensation cut off after two and a half years. All workers should have the right to be covered by workers compensation on their way to and from work. And have the right to know that, should the worse happen, they are covered until they recover. A campaign led by Unions NSW is underway, with rallies, TV ads, and a

petition calling upon members of the NSW Parliament to oppose any cuts to injured workers benefits. Over 133,000 workers are injured at work every year in NSW. The Union movement thinks a right-minded government would focus on preventing injuries in the first place, and strengthen requirements to provide suitable duties so injured workers can get back to work as quickly as possible. The undeniable insinuation behind the O’Farrell Government’s move is that injured workers are lazy - or cheats, and should have their benefits reduced to encourage them to return to work.

Victoria Teachers reject divisive performance pay In June teachers from government schools took to the streets in a sea of red T-shirts to protest the dismal pay and conditions offered by the Baillieu Government. The Government’s wages policy of 2.5% per annum, with any further increase dependent on ‘productivity’ gains, leaves Victoria’s teachers looking at an effective pay cut in real terms. Under the proposal the top 10% of teachers in each school would get a one-off 10% bonus, allowing a minority to earn $103,000. Three in every 10 teachers would get no bonus, while others would be eligible for bonuses worth 1.4% or 6% of their base

salaries. The Government’s deal would allow only 80% of teachers to progress up the pay scale. One in five teachers would be ‘selected’ to stand still.  All of this is in stark contrast to Premier Ted Baillieu’s promise before the last election to make Victoria’s teachers “the highest paid in Australia”.  As the IEU Victoria/Tasmania builds its own campaign in Victorian Catholic schools for fairer wages and conditions, we are mindful of the nexus between teachers’ and principals’ wages in government and Catholic schools and of the contribution the IEU can make to the campaign to hold the Premier to his promise.  

The pay deal that will ultimately be negotiated for teachers won’t just apply to government school teachers, but workers in Catholic schools too. It will also help set the ‘market rate’ for pay in independent schools. Current pay negotiations will, in one way or another, affect every education worker in the state.  To raise awareness of a fair deal for teachers, the IEU took out a large advertisement in The Age on the day of the stop-work action and it is running a petition calling on the Premier to honour his promise to Victorian teachers.

Tasmania One entity for VET courses Minister for Education and Skills Nick McKim recently announced that the Tasmanian Skills Institute and the Tasmanian Polytechnic’ will merge to create TasTAFE. Both of these entities were created three years ago under the banner of Tasmania Tomorrow. The Government claims they made significant gains by creating more pathways, better access to VET for Year 11 and 12 students and more flexibility for industry. 6|independent education| issue 2|2012

However the Government has acknowledged that the implementation was rushed and stakeholders were not consulted, and
the joint structure was fragmented and inefficient. Anecdotally, it was also confusing for the public, staff, students and industry. From July 2013 there will be a single public VET entity with the recognisable TAFE brand. “This will be a one-stop shop for industry and individuals and will result in quality training, improved outcomes and ease

of access for learners,” Mr McKim said. He said the changes recommended by the Report into the Public VET Providers in Tasmania will see the entire VET system in Tasmania rejuvenated. Education unions were pleased to read the Minister’s announcement, including the statement: “As with any major change we will engage with union groups throughout the change process”.

Australia wide

Queensland ELICOS employees in insecure work inquiry IEUA-QNT ELICOS members have told a national inquiry how insecure work arrangements have affected their personal and professional lives. Judith White and Arun Warszawski from Browns Language College were among numerous Queensland workers who made submissions to the Independent Inquiry into Insecure Work Hearing in Brisbane in February. As an ESL teacher, Arun told the Inquiry that the combination of casual short-term contracts and no sick or holiday pay, plus relatively low pay rates, meant that taking leave was not only financially risky, but there was a risk of losing his job.

“As a young teacher the possibility of embarking upon an ESL career is simply not feasible if I am to aim for a minimally comfortable family life in Australia,” he said. Experienced teacher Judith said observing the practices of the ESL industry had been a sobering experience. “Schools in the ESL industry appear to have little interest in staff development and improvement of their standards experienced teachers are simply not valued if the treatment of experienced teachers is any indication,” she said. The Inquiry, one of the most important investigations into the

changing nature of Australian work, was commissioned by the ACTU to examine the impact of insecure jobs on the workplace and the community. The submissions heard in Brisbane were among 500 from across Australia. The public hearings allow workers, the unions who represent them and other organisations who have made a submission to paint a clear picture of the issue, its consequences and solutions. For more information visit

Protecting staff against cyberbullying Rockhampton Catholic Education Diocese has taken an important step in protecting the welfare of their employees with the implementation of a cyberbullying policy. The policy, designed in collaboration with IEUA-QNT, teachers and parents, establishes clear methods of handling instances of cyberbullying towards staff members. The collaborative approach was integral to bringing about this policy which addresses one of the most important issues stemming from rising internet usage. IEUA-QNT Organiser Richard Pascoe said the policy introduction was an appropriate step

and commended Catholic Education for consulting the Union on the issue. “This policy will provide all employees with assurance in knowing that they will be protected should cyberbullying become an issue at their school,” he said. Under the new policy, staff are encouraged not to take personal action should inappropriate comments or material be directed towards them online by students. Instead they are instructed to note the details of any incident of cyberbullying and report it to their supervisor/principal who will then launch an appropriate investigation.

This process is intended to remove pressure from staff who may think it is their responsibility to deal with cyberbullying, and instead creates an appropriate channel for these issues to be addressed. “The management of student’s online behaviour has become a key issue in our schools.” Chapters are encouraged to consider implementing a similar framework in their schools for combating cyberbullying towards staff. independent education| issue 2|2012|7

The road to respect A new resource is giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth a chance to change their future, writes IE Journalist Sue Osborne.

Educational resources specifically designed for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community are rare. The Line – Respect Each Other is not only culturally appropriate, it targets the difficult problem of domestic violence in the community. It’s the Indigenous component of the Federal Government’s Crossing The Line campaign, aimed at reducing violence. The Line – Respect Each Other was devised for the Government by a Brisbanebased Aboriginal owned and staffed communication and media company called Winangali (a Kamilaroi word meaning to hear, to listen, to know, to remember). The Federal Department of Families, Housing, Communities and Indigenous Affairs carried out extensive research with community members, teachers and students to produce a resource that would engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth of all ages. “The research found that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth are often not exposed to respectful relationships in the way others in the community might be,” Winangali Director Noel Niddrie says. “It indicated they understand respect for elders, but not necessarily respect for girlfriends, partners, wives or boyfriends,” Noel says. “The aim is that when these young people start relationships they have a context for respect, that’s why it’s the central element of this resource.” The free resource comprises four plays, four comics, a screenplay, Snap cards, colouring materials and accompanying lesson plans. Jack and the Bird tells the story of a boy who thinks good things about girls, but when he opens his mouth bad words come out. Jack meets a magic bird that turns him into a girl, and he finds out what it’s like to be on the receiving end of disrespectful language. In Bully Boys, Tom gets teased and hit by three boys, Ron, George and Lewis, who don’t like him being a Swans fan. A dog and a magpie summon up some magic, and, through an Adam Goodes poster, Tom finds the courage to face the bullies. In Stinky Wind, three girls are spreading nasty rumours by text, but Karri gets the better of them by not taking their calls. And in Learning to Fly, Stanley is able to see the damage his bullying behavior is doing to the girl next door, when a cockatoo gives him the power of flight, and he sees her crying in her room. The comics have been drawn by Sam Felix Joseph, who worked in conjunction with

8|independent education| issue 2|2012

internationally acclaimed Aboriginal artist Bronwyn Bancroft. “The images were created to avoid the stereotypical ‘one-look’ blackfella,” according to Winangali Creative Director Stuart Hodgson. “They’re deliberately not cultural stories, as one person’s cultural story is another person’s sacred cultural knowledge,” Stuart says. “There is a magical element to the stories, but basically they are just kids’ stories. “The beauty of the resource is that it’s suitable for all ages and abilities,” Noel adds. “The comics are aimed at the younger, less literate kids, so they can receive the message without being intimidated by the reading. “The plays are for an older cohort – they can perform the play or read it as a text. “The most sophisticated part of the resource is a screenplay on jealousy.” “It’s all inclusive, so it doesn’t matter if you only have one or two Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids in your class – all students can appreciate the stories and pictures and get involved in the discussions.” IEU Member Jane Anlezark is the former Indigenous Student Mentor at the Anglican and Uniting Church-run day and boarding secondary Kormilda College in Darwin. Last year Jane provided pastoral care and classroom activities for the senior students, ages 15-19. Many of the students come from remote Aboriginal communities, although some are non-Indigenous. Health promotion, particularly how students look after themselves, is paramount, she says. “There is quite a degree of accepted violence in communities and a lot of the work I did zeroed in on violence generated by people who are drunk. “There’s a lot of resources available looking at alcohol and drugs. “However, what’s become apparent to me, mainly because the students expressed the need for it themselves, is the real demand for materials that tackle healthy relationships. “They wanted to talk about how they manage themselves and their relationships with others. “They wanted to talk about their boyfriends and girlfriends, texting and personal space, about feeling pressure to do things they don’t want to in a relationship. “I found The Line – Respect Each Other was a brilliant way to develop conversations about things that get missed out or swept under the carpet when the focus is just about drug and alcohol abuse in the community. “I split my students up into groups of males and females, and the fellas all told me they wanted more of this kind of work,

l James Rowland written by Michae Felix Joseph Illustrated by Sam

Towards reconciliation

Tom lived on the . far side of town

had After school he . a long walk home

uld see Ron, those days. He co Today was one of nce ahead. fe e th s perched on George and Lewi

g but not if He enjoyed walkin the crossing. big boys were at d on him. ke They always pic

uld leave him r, hoping they wo Tom walked faste . alone. Fat chance


We don't like it, take it off.

What's with the cap?

My dad You a ve it Swans fan? ga to me.

Why you wearing it then?

What cap?

The Swans cap on your head. Does he like Adam Goodes?

rubbish. Adam Goodes is dad ur yo y wh t Is tha likes him? Because he's rubbish.

I found The Line Respect Each Other was a brilliant way to develop conversations about things that get missed out or swept under the carpet.

Adam Goodes won the Brownlow Medal in 2003 and 2004.


and that they’d like to take this out to their communities. “They asked me for copies of the comics as well, because they’re something they can share with family and friends.” She said the resource is clear and straightforward and popular with students. “They feel like it’s about them and their issues, that it relates to their age group. “I’m a power figure in the classroom, so I can get them on to these topics through the resource and it doesn’t feel like just another school subject that I’m teaching them. “They can lead the conversations themselves. We’ve had some very lively

debates as a result of this, I can tell you.” The resource has been designed with curriculum in mind and feedback from schools is that it’s been used in PDHE (health), drama, English and for pastoral care. Next year, the Government plans to run a ‘respect roadshow’ in which an artist, rapper, videographer, drama teacher and host will visit schools around the country with high Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, to run workshops for students and training for teachers. For more details on the resource see independent education| issue 2|2012|9

It’s not enough to have a few lines about bullying in the newsletter, a couple of posters and a box to post secret messages. This is tokenism.



10|independent education| issue 2|2012


Media coverage of bullying gives the impression schools are breeding grounds for conflict. From the youngest student to the most senior member of staff, it seems no one is immune. But while there is no easy fix, many school communities are developing conflict resolution skills that will stand them in good stead, even beyond the school gates. IE Journalist Tara de Boehmler explores what’s working and what’s not, and shares the stories of those who have gained unwanted first-hand experience.

According to the 2009 Investigation of Staff Bullying in Australian Schools, by Dan Riley, more than 85% of staff perceived they had experienced the researchers’ top 10 identified bullying behaviours. Research released this year by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) revealed almost half of Australian school students experience some form of bullying. Meanwhile, school principals are nearly five times more likely to receive threats of violence in the workplace compared with the general population, according to the Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey, conducted by researchers from Monash University’s Faculty of Education. But while the figures are disturbing, what is just as concerning is the prevalence of other forms of conflict, which by their nature are more difficult to quantify. Confusion over what constitutes bullying is a further impediment, with many wrongly identifying conflict situations as bullying. This has implications when identifying the best course of action for dealing with the situation. Lead researcher of the QUT study, Professor Marilyn Campbell, tells IE that bullying behaviour has three major characteristics: it is repetitive, the intention is to hurt and it involves an imbalance of power. “These people bully or tease without provocation because they lack empathy and they like to hurt and abuse their power,” Marilyn says. “They like an audience, with most bullying to increase their social status.” “Identifying whether a situation involves bullying or is conflict between equals is important because the way you intervene is so different. Conflict can be solved via mediation, with both parties tending to think they are in the right but wanting to resolve the issue. “For bullying, the only thing that works is a whole school approach and this is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Leadership has the capacity to build resilience into a school but they have to put in the time and the money.” Marilyn says schools need to have a policy that is separate from a behaviour policy: it must be understood throughout the entire school community, there needs to be a focus on prevention, a partnership with families is required and preparing those who would be ‘bystanders’ is key – take the audience away and have them support the person who has been targeted. She also recommends an annual school survey to help track the development of conflict. “It’s not enough to have a few lines about bullying in the newsletter, a couple of posters and a box to post secret messages. This is absolute and utter tokenism.” The impact of ongoing, unchecked conflict can have major ramifications for both students and staff. “Kids are vulnerable and in these situations anxious kids get more anxious while depressed

kids get more depressed,” Marilyn says. “If students don’t feel safe at school then they are not going to learn.” Meanwhile Dan, who with Deirdre Duncan and John Edwards published this year Bullying of Staff in Schools (ACER Press), estimates around 0.85% of GDP is lost through workplace conflict and says the human cost is “absolutely enormous”. “One in seven suicides are supposed to be related to work and workplace bullying but there are also those who want to get out of their workplaces early, increases in absenteeism, instances of presenteeism (there but not firing), and low morale. “When morale is low, people are pricklier and goodwill evaporates. A school executive needs to be wise to know how to maintain productivity and keep conflict in check.”

We want people to feel there are options – there are things they can do.

While nothing beats a school-wide approach, most schools are still leaving it to individuals to navigate the minefield as issues arise. Dan advises school staff to make the most of available support before conflict gets out of hand. “Join your union and you will always be able to bring them in to be your third party or to raise concerns on behalf of staff. Some people can end up getting a $60,000 legal bill when they may just have needed a fair hearing through an independent arbitrator. So you just need to have that on your side. He also has advice for when a situation starts to escalate. “Ensure you keep a diary of events, recording who was there and what happened. Don’t be passionate. Be factual, write it all down and let your Union Rep know. “If you can, talk to the person concerned then, if necessary, the next person up and so on. Ask someone to come with you to any meetings. Schools need to listen, assess, make a decision and give a reason for their decision in writing. It’s then generally up to the person who was targeted to decide whether to take the issue further.” The IEU works everyday to assist members experiencing workplace conflict. If you are involved in workplace conflict and require support, contact your Union Rep or Organiser. independent education| issue 2|2012|11

Members talk From hero to villain

Space invaders

Take it seriously

What struck me about my experience, and what I’d like others to know, is no matter how comfortable you feel in your situation, it’s amazing how quickly things can deteriorate. I was a long-serving teacher with the support of the principal and my colleagues and the respect of the parent community. But when I closed two of my classrooms on occupational health and safety grounds, approached the Board and tried to rally the troops to get improvements made, I very quickly went from star to villain. It was a product of my energy and enthusiasm that I wanted to see things progress and grow. But I should have seen the signs that things were not suddenly going to change. I kept thinking ‘maybe they don’t understand and they just need it explained clearer’ and I went higher and higher. In the end I was called into a meeting and accused of defamation. I was told to withdraw my statements and give the Board my full support or resign. On advice I retracted my statements, apologised and offered my resignation as I could have lost my entitlements if I was sacked. My advice to others is, if you find yourself with a meeting coming up that may be a threat to your employment, get it delayed so you have a chance to get a Union Representative to come along, and make sure you are given the agenda in advance. I feel it was inexcusable that I wasn’t warned about how serious the meeting was going to be that I was asked to attend. My Union Organiser really helped me through my situation and was so caring. When people are in distress it is great to know there are people like that to speak with and support you. My career until now has been full of greatness and now I’m in a position where I can’t believe what’s happening. There will always be that question: ‘why did you leave your last workplace?’

I worked alone with a colleague in an area a bit separate from the main part of the school. The conflict I experienced had occurred previously and I became involved through circumstance. I had made it clear to my colleague that I only wanted to have a professional relationship but she called my home, invaded my privacy and kept invading my personal space – she was always in my face. If I told her I wasn’t comfortable talking about something she just kept on asking. Sometimes she was abusive. Half of the time she probably didn’t even know what she was doing. She was trying to befriend me but I felt intimidated, harassed, bullied and that I was being discriminated against on the basis of my religion. The conflict continued for three years and WorkCover became involved. We went through two lots of mediation. It just seemed to make things worse and even during mediation she was touching my arm and holding my hand. I approached my solicitors but they didn’t want to become involved either. They said workplace conflict was such a hard situation to prove, especially as we worked alone. I felt like I was put in the too hard basket – as though the school was just waiting for me to leave. I didn’t want to go as I thought that was the easy way out and I loved my job. Eventually I walked out and that’s when I approached the Union. My IEU Organiser did everything for me, including making sure I went to a doctor and supplying me with a solicitor. She pointed me in all the right directions. I can honestly say, I was never a Union person but my Organiser and the solicitor she put me in touch with were the only people that understood me. She helped me get a job in another school and I couldn’t be happier. Schools need to get their acts together regarding conflict and bullying, and not sweep it under the carpet.

When I found myself being bullied by a colleague I knew from outside of work I felt depressed and alone and as though everyone was against me. If you’ve never been bullied before you can experience disbelief and hope it will resolve itself. But I wish I’d taken measures from the beginning to document all the incidences better, to be more upfront about wanting it logged, and that I’d taken a support person to all meetings. I was lucky to have a supportive family and also the support of my IEU Organiser, particularly as I was worried that if I took another staff member in to be my support member that they would get bullied and ostracised as well. My Organiser gave me really good advice and rightly said that the bully usually stays in their job while the victim leaves. She also said that the sooner I got back into the workforce the better I would feel. I was lucky that my husband was able to sustain us financially while I stayed at home for a while. My Organiser negotiated to have my job kept open for me but meanwhile I have started working part-time elsewhere. You get to the stage where you need to decide whether you want to let something take over your life or if you will just get on with it. It’s nice to think something good came out of the situation. It certainly makes you aware of how careful you need to be to ensure you don’t end up being that person. And if anything like this happened again I’d know exactly what to do.

IEU member, name withheld

12|independent education| issue 2|2012

IEU member, name withheld

IEU member, name withheld


Acting against conflict Two programs out of Griffith University are dealing with conflict in innovative ways. Role play, mentoring and peer education are the tools employed by the Acting Against Bullying program, which starts with Year 11 drama class workshops based on Augusto Boal’s ‘theatre of the oppressed’. Older children work with younger students.

Participants take it in turn to play the roles of bully, bullied and bystander, the latter having “the most agency to change the situation”, program convener Professor Bruce Burton says. “Those who have taught students about bullying are unlikely to then bully them.” This model “only works if school executives are committed to it” and it requires the support of senior staff and inservicing for teachers, he says. But if it is done properly, Bruce says the program can change the culture of a school, with particularly high levels of success around reducing racial conflict and bullying. “This works with every kind of conflict. We’ve had extraordinary success with refugee students and it is also effective in reducing staff conflict.” However this is “not a quick fix”, he says. “You can’t just get an expert to fly in and fly out.” Dr Shannon Spriggs, also from Griffith University, convenes the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, which focuses on the role of the bystander. “We get them to try to be conscious of the issues – the background of the problem and the people who need help – and get them

motivated around their responsibility as a bystander.” When provided with scenarios, participants might come up with options like: do nothing; go to the people who are bullying and ask them why they don’t stop; discuss with friends; approach the target and take them into your group; befriend them; let them know you don’t approve of what is happening and that you are there; or approach an adult. “We never prescribe options because it’s not nearly that simple,” Shannon says. “We help students to develop critical decisionmaking skills about intervention and get them thinking about the outcomes of any choice they may make so they can make the safest most effective choice. “We try to build their confidence about doing something to confront abusive peers either on their own, with the help of their peers, or with the help of an adult. We use the options to create an opportunity to discuss the nuances about any given situation.” As with Acting Against Bullying, Shannon suggests “training an older group as trainers” but also training some staff so they can continue to teach their colleagues.

It changed my attitude “My attitude to everything’s changed now; but I used to be a bit of a bully. I used to bully the younger kids who were in a group, but now I understand that ‘hey it’s not right, I shouldn’t be doing this’. I’ve played the bully, I’ve played the bullied person. I know how they felt. So I try to be nicer to those people and generally we’re getting along well now.” Year 9 student after participating in Acting Against Bullying

independent education| issue 2|2012|13


How do you feel, what do you do? How do you feel when a parent refuses to accept your professional judgement regarding their child? Or the Head of Department ignores your ideas and demands you run a unit of work, even though you believe the content is dated and won’t engage the students? Or when you perceive that you are given more than your fair share of supervisions? How do you respond? IEUA-QNT Organiser Gaye Vale shows how to navigate your way.

Take, for example, two teachers in the staffroom who share a workspace. One is overly neat while the other overly untidy. We have conflict. What happens next? One response is to fight. Maybe a very public screaming match results, always uncomfortable for the innocent bystanders. Another might be to prioritise your need for neatness over the needs of your colleague by coming in on the weekend, cleaning up your colleague’s space and then feeling hurt and unappreciated when they complain about the invasion of privacy of the act. Or start talking in whispers to others about how frustrating your colleague is in an attempt to have peer pressure dictate a change in behaviour. Then again your response could be flight; spending less and less time in the workplace or requesting to be moved. None of these would be helpful in acheiving a harmonious workplace. In education, relationships dominate the working day making conflict a possibility. Although there are legal ways of addressing serious situations of conflict, such as assault, harassment and defamation, the less formal and informal processes are more likely to provide an opportunity for continued relationships and a sense of empowerment for those involved. Industrial agreements all contain a formal dispute resolution procedure often with a requirement for low level resolution between the two parties in the first instance. For any conflict resolution process to be successful, there has to be a willingness to resolve the conflict and an understanding of how to be assertive within the resolution. Aggression breeds a fight response. Stating


your case without raising the defences of the other person encourages engagement in the communication necessary to resolve the conflict. Also necessary is an understanding of the part emotions play in any conflict and knowledge of strategies that can help manage emotions. This does not mean bottling up emotions but focusing on how you are feeling and exploring why you feel that way to enable the identification of the core problem or issue. If you can’t identify it, you won’t be able to resolve it. Finally the resolution needs to be designed. The conflict must be mapped with options developed that allow individuals to take control and regain some personal power in the process. Define the issue, identify who is involved and their legitimate needs and fears and then it will be possible to create feasible options to resolve the conflict. Not all conflicts will be resolved without the support of a mediator or access to formal processes or legal avenues. But there is more opportunity to have a productive and sustainable resolution when both parties are prepared to work together for an outcome that addresses their needs. Management and individuals have a responsibility to create workplaces that address conflict in a healthy, productive and respectful way and to use these same values to support students to learn the skills necessary for healthy conflict resolution. For more information and resources, including some developed for use in the classroom, visit the Conflict Resolution Network

Australian Principal Health and Wellbeing Survey • Bullying. No way! • Cooling conflict • Investigation of staff bullying in Australian schools • 14|independent education| issue 2|2012

Teaching and learning

The avalanche of evidence from overseas means there is no way Prime Minister Julia Gillard or Education Minister Peter Garrett can continue to justify its use.

Time to scrap NAPLAN NAPLAN should be withdrawn, in the light of overwhelming evidence from overseas that high stakes testing constitutes “a direct threat” to the wellbeing of children, NSW Parents Council President Stephen Grieve says.

A recent literature review by the Whitlam Institute, the University of Melbourne and the Foundation for Young Australians examined 82 studies, mostly in the UK and US, but some in Australia too, undertaken between 1991 and 2011. The review found threats to both the wellbeing of children and the quality of their education caused by high stakes tests such as NAPLAN. The review states: “Testing regimes encourage low level thinking and promote the valuing of outcome measures rather than the intrinsic processes of learning and acquiring knowledge”, and “Teachers will focus on the areas in which students will be tested, while reducing the proportion of class time devoted to curriculum areas not included in state tests”. Mr Grieve says the use of NAPLAN results to create the My School site meant that it could be classified as ‘high stakes’. The Black Dog Institute has reported that one in five children or adolescents are affected by mental health issues – or 20% of the school population. The additional stress of high stakes testing added another layer of anxiety on to both teachers and students, Mr Grieve says. “The pressure and media attention around NAPLAN was causing an unhealthy skewing of the learning experience, the teaching experience and even a corruption of the curriculum.” Queensland studies found NAPLAN had ”the capacity to lower the self-esteem,

self-image and long-term confidence of underperforming students, thus widening the gap between them and their higher achieving peers”. “If you’ve got a child with an anxiety problem and you add the extra overlay on top of that, you’re creating a ridiculous level of stress and pressure that’s completely unacceptable. “It’s a huge amount of extra pressure on the teacher too. “I am more than prepared to accept that when Julia Gillard was Education Minister and she introduced NAPLAN testing, she was positively convinced,” Mr Grieve says. “However, the avalanche of evidence from overseas means there is no way Julia Gillard or Education Minister Peter Garrett can continue to justify its use. “It is being abandoned in the UK because it has been seen to be terribly damaging to kids and teachers.” Mr Grieve also says New York City School Chancellor Joel Klein, a big influence on Julia Gillard in 2008, has been discredited. “Anything that exacerbates problems for children struggling at the lower end of the educational spectrum is completely unacceptable. “Enormous resources are being wasted on promoting the NAPLAN regime.” The NSW Parents Council (www. continues to lobby Minister Garrett on the issue. Email for more information. independent education| issue 2|2012|15

Teaching and learning

Is Australia losing the education ranking race? You may not have realised it but Australia is involved in an education race with its Asian competitors, a race that it is at risk of losing, IEU VicTas Education Officer Cathy Hickey writes.

This claim, along with a warning that we are in danger of becoming the ‘runt of the litter’, was expressed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in June this year, shortly after the NAPLAN test results were released. Is regarding education as a race to be won or lost the best way to build capacity in education systems and schools and to lift the educational outcomes of our most disadvantaged students? What has prompted the comparison with our Asian neighbours is the performance of Shanghai, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore who, along with the consistent out-performer Finland, make up the top five countries in the PISA results. Held every three years, the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment tests a sample group of school students aged between 15 years and three months and 16 years and two months in three areas: reading, mathematics and science. Each student takes a two-hour hand written test. Part of the test is multiple choice. The most recent round was the first time mainland China had taken part. It topped the global tables in each of three subjects ahead of 64 other countries. There is no doubt there are issues for Australia to consider arising from the PISA results. The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) has produced a number of interesting papers highlighting the Australian report and identifying challenges for Australian education. While Australia’s results were significantly higher than the OECD average in each of the areas of reading, mathematical and scientific literacy, the range of reading literacy scores (the gap between highest and lowest achieving students) for example, was wider for Australian students than the OECD average. Similarly Australia showed a comparatively wide distribution of student performance in

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scientific literacy. Other differences in gender performance mirror the differences across the OECD and raise issues to consider. The low achievement of Australia’s Indigenous students continues to be a concern and significant challenge for Australian education. International comparisons What do we learn from them? As Finnish educator and author Pasi Sahlberg says, explaining the education success of other nations or schools is by no means easy. Ironically, in his 2010 book Finnish Lessons, he outlines why and how Finland has achieved system wide excellence in education by doing things differently to others – rejecting standardisation of teaching, meritbased pay, test-based accountability etc. But what do we make of contextual comparisons? Critics of Finland say that it’s easy to be good when the country is linguistically and socio-economically homogenous. Critics of Shanghai’s results say that only 35% of students enter high school. Education Professor Yong Zhao has said that the high scores in China are due to an excessive workload and testing. On the other side of the ledger commentators, including Grattan Institute’s Ben Jensen, point to successful Asian education reforms which include giving teachers more time to prepare, more time to diagnose student needs, more time for active collaboration, for feedback, for observation and for research. In Shanghai all teachers have mentors (one for advice on their subject area and the other for classroom management). If we look at a comparison of teacher time spent per week on direct instruction we have an interesting picture – Australia 20 hours, Shanghai 10-12 hours, South Korea 16, and the OECD average 18 hours. Perhaps Australia’s ‘education athletes’ could benefit from this kind of vitamin regime.

Teaching and learning

Embrace difference in your classroom

Addressing early career teachers at the NSW/ACT IEU’s recent Teach Survive Thrive Conference, keynote speaker Stephen Hughes encouraged them to embrace diversity in the classroom, not fear it.

“Diversity is part of the fabric of our ecology,” Stephen told the conference. A Lecturer in Education at the University of Southern Queensland, Stephen, specialises in diversity and inclusion, and advocates principals of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which aims to give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL originated in the 90s, when digital technology began to expand. It’s an educational framework based on cognitive neuroscience research that guides the development of flexible learning environments to accommodate individual learning differences. CAST, the Centre for Applied Special Technology, in the US, originated UDL when it began to explore ways of using new technologies to provide better educational targeted experiences for students with disabilities. UDL is intended to increase access to learning by reducing physical, cognitive, intellectual, and organisational barriers. “At times it’s the curriculum that is the disabling factor in the classroom, not the student or the teacher,” Stephen said. UDL acknowledges the differences in the way children recognise information that is important for them to learn, process that information and stay motivated to learn. It provides teachers with tools to address those three separate areas. “Everyone has a preferred way to learn and even our own preferred way to learn may change from day to day,” Stephen said. Teachers need to provide multiple and flexible ways of: • presenting information • allowing students to process information • demonstrating learning outcomes, and • motivating students.

“You have to be turned on emotionally to be motivated to learn, and what turns people on differs.” However, rather than ‘cherry picking’ ideas on a daily basis, teachers need to do detailed profiling of each student, so they know what their barriers are and what works. “If you find doing drawing aided by a computer works better for one student who can’t draw with a pencil, you may find that of benefit to many others as well. “If you do collaborative group tasks this may be a barrier to some kids. Do they understand how to operate in a group; will they hide in the group for fear of failure or looking a ‘dill’? “In teacher-lead discussions many kids will be lost.” Multimedia technology was providing a wider range of presentation techniques that could aid more students. “No one technique is bad. There’s nothing wrong with a textbook or a teacher-lead discussion, but there are always some students that are ‘gone’ when you’re doing that. “Maybe a YouTube video is more appropriate, or using digital photography, maps, voice recorders, online publishing etc.” Stephen said in Australia there was a tendency to privilege curriculum, pedagogy and assessment before student profiling and diversity. “Dealing with diversity should be at the front of the planning, not an add-on. “Make diversity and difference in your classroom works for you not against you. By continually putting it at the back of the process teachers are hamstringing themselves. “If we cater for more difference from the word go it is more effective and becomes a virtuous circle building on itself.” More details on UDL can be found at independent education| issue 2|2012|17

In the

frame Visual arts and the national curriculum

There’s disquiet in the NSW visual arts education community that what may be forsaken in the national curriculum is too precious to lose. Dr Karen Maras and Nick Phillipson from the Visual Arts and Design Educators Association of NSW tell IE Journalist Tara de Boehmler what’s at stake.

Nick, an IEU member teaching Visual Arts at St Patrick’s College Strathfield, says scaffolding content using a conceptual framework are among the keys to the NSW approach to quality visual arts curriculum and teaching. “I teach only boys and they learn best when information is approached through highlighting framework concepts as points of reference,” Nick says. The domain specific concepts being scaffolded amount to a “framework that allows students to understand artworks in relationship to key agencies of the world, the audience and the artist”, he says. “When focusing on learning in art, I would be very concerned if we were to lose the idea of ‘practice’. The concept of practice supports teachers’ work in talking about how and why artists make art. This core content is only very loosely referenced in the draft curriculum. “In terms of practice, we need students to understand how artworks fit into realms of an artist’s conceptual ideas, influences and material practice; how artists can be masters of particular mediums is connected to how they develop their intentions to represent ideas in artworks.”

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Exploring the art world Understanding artists’ practice can be closely linked to knowledge of the art world, Nick says. “The art world is a very diverse domain that has influenced whole movements throughout art history. Insufficient reference is made to a student’s critical and historical understanding of how artists respond to and are influenced by this domain. This includes an exploration of the history that comes with western art and eastern art concepts, the idea of the difference between craft, design and art, the multi-facets of the gallery system consisting of the artist, the curator, the galley director or the role of the audience member. “The artist as practitioner has to tap into the art world as point of influence. Students need this grounding and knowledge of such instances of practice in the art world to inform their own ideas of how and why an artist creates their artwork.” Sequential learning Karen says it is this practical, sequential learning approach that must take precedence over the aesthetic.

Teaching and learning

Year 12 Visual Arts students at St Patrick’s College work on their HSC bodies of work.

It’s not viable to assess someone’s aesthetic experience – especially when historical and contemporary art forms taught in schools resist the very notion of the aesthetic.

“People assume that students work with the elements and principles of design when they look at artworks. The belief is that a basic knowledge of art concerns aesthetic knowledge. Under these terms knowing about colour, line and shape is foundational knowledge. “Those elements are pertinent to some forms of art but my research on students’ understandings of things like painting in art shows they actually don’t work on aesthetic terms, they work with real ideas about artworks as products of artists’ practice. “From a really young age, students work with the properties of subject matter and they name things that they recognise in artworks very simply and literally. They don’t orientate themselves using aesthetic theory. Aesthetic, cultural and semiotic theories are understandings they acquire through cultural engagement and learning with their teachers in art rooms across the country.” Karen says sequential learning is vital as students acquire this understanding. “The kind of knowledge students acquire in art is logical and sequential. Foundational knowledge concerns explanations of what artworks do, who they are made by, how they come into existence and the role of intention in this. “As students get older they start to realise that artworks are the products of an artist’s ideas and intentions. They know that artists produce artworks with a sense of purpose that engages audiences quite diversely. “By the time they are about 12 students can speculate on how artworks can mean different things for different people. They can explain that artists have intentions, representing different value systems, to make artworks that are informing us about all sorts of different discourses whether it’s history, tradition, community, beauty, irony or deeply felt perceptions of things. This kind

of knowledge extends beyond how people feel in the artworld and how colour, line, shape and tone amounts to a well-formed composition.” Beyond the romance Both Karen and Nick would like to see an end to the “romanticised notion” of arts education being chiefly about creative selfexpression and freedom for the individual. “You can’t actually turn that into curriculum,” Karen says. “How do you assess someone’s aesthetic experience? It’s not viable – especially when historical and contemporary art forms taught in schools resist the very notion of the aesthetic. You might be looking at a fantastic new contemporary artwork, but if you are armed only with the elements and principles of design, then you will be wondering how to deal with it. Whereas, we can talk about foundational knowledge in terms of ‘what was the artist trying to do?’, ‘who is the audience?’ and ‘what’s it about?’ – simple questions that require much deeper knowledge in terms of the answers.” This needs to be spelt out in the national curriculum, Nick says. “It seems egalitarian to say ‘this is just a guide and you can fill in the rest’ but in practice this is not how schools work. “Any loose, overly flexible approach and anything that erodes the hours allowance in visual arts is problematic because many schools are run with very tight curriculum schedules,” Nick says. “If we don’t get it right this is going to have a flow-on effect for Australia’s cultural capital.” Dr Karen Maras is Co-President of VADEA and Visual Arts Education Senior Lecturer at Australian Catholic University. VADEA’s Nick Phillipson is an IEU member and Visual Arts Teacher from St Patrick’s College, Strathfield. independent education| issue 2|2012|19

Teaching and learning


addition to maths resources

A unique program is transforming the way Indigenous school students are learning about mathematics. IE Journalist Fiona Stutz looks at the YuMI Deadly Maths program and how it can work in all schools.

Developed by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the YuMI Deadly Maths program is unique as its mathematics focus is on creativity, structure and culture, and its implementation focus is on whole-ofschool change. The program is run out of the university’s YuMI Deadly Centre (YDC) where researchers work with schools to improve teaching and learning using action research methodologies, particularly in mathematics. All YDC projects are done in collaboration with principals, teachers, schools and parents to find the best ways of improving maths learning and pride in indigenous culture. This is to meet the desires of elders and community leaders that their students learn mathematics while staying strong to indigenous culture. YDC projects include writing new maths learning and teaching resources, professional development seminars, training courses, trials of these resources, as well as research-related activities. Whole-of school change The philosophy behind YuMI Deadly Maths is that a mathematics approach alone will not sustain change, it requires a whole school community change that builds pride and positive identity, celebrates local culture and builds links to community and has high expectations for students. As teachers need to believe that their students are capable of mastering mathematics, YuMI Deadly training always begins with workshops for principals and school leaders. A professional learning program run by the centre recently was Sustainable Access to Mathematics in four independent

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Queensland schools. The pilot project was funded by Independent Schools Queensland which develops a professional learning program for Year 4 teachers in effective assessment, teaching and learning of mathematics. Big ideas In YuMI Deadly Maths is seen as as a structure of connected big ideas that are built across the years of learning. QUT Professor Tom Cooper says big ideas are generic in nature and reflect algebraic understanding. For basic facts such as 8+5, students are taught to build through to 10, that is, 8+5 is 10+3, he says. However, it does not stop there, as it asks why this works, relates the process to inverse and identity and connects it to similar processes. “If you can set up the teaching of that in the early grades you just use the practical situations that are in front of you. So we’d expect teachers to be teaching equivalence of expression as a result of that 8+5=10+3 without using all those long words or x’s and y’s,” he says. Teacher as central YuMI Deadly Maths advocates that teachers are central to effective mathematics teaching through the relationships they develop with students, through tailoring programs to the specific needs of their students, by reacting to the responses of students and by developing teaching plans based on evidence of their students’ performance. Additional information: au/yumi-deadly-maths.html

Teaching and learning

Under the

spotlight Teacher performance or teacher development? Under the ‘teacher quality’ mantra, attention is refocussing on teacher appraisal. In an approach that attempts to appease the performance monitors with those more focussed on teacher development, AITSL (Australian Institute for Teachers and School Leaders) has issued a draft Teacher Performance and Development Framework for consultation.

But is it really an empty set when it comes to teacher appraisal in Australia? Not according to published data or teacher experience. For example, the Staff in Australia’s Schools 2010 Survey reports that 76% of primary and 65% of secondary teachers surveyed are appraised annually by either the principal, deputy or supervisor about their knowledge and understanding of teacher practices in their main subject fields. As a result of these appraisals, principals reported that 82% of primary and 77% of secondary teachers accessed professional learning opportunities. AITSL acknowledges this in its opening preamble by quoting an OECD report that 63% of Australian teachers are currently involved in an appraisal process. However, they add it is for what teachers perceive as administrative requirements. So the AITSL rationale is that if we are to have teacher appraisal let it be for an authentic and useful purpose … we couldn’t agree more.

What kind of appraisal will work? At a recent forum convened by the NSW/ ACT IEU to discuss the AITSL framework, teachers said they want and need a nonthreatening process that encourages continuing professional learning, is affirming and provides recognition of effort and achievement as well as feedback on areas needing further growth. A model that will assist teacher development and build teacher capacity: • Must be teacher focused and classroom focused • Must be based on professional, collegial and collaborative conversations including opportunities for classroom visits, team teaching and observation • Must have quality input through professional learning opportunities • Must be teacher-centred, providing independent education| issue 2|2012|21

teacher direction and a sense of choice and control to promote professional trust and the development of a culture of ongoing professional learning • Must be a shared whole staff process, including both formal and informal processes • Must be affirming and developmental in focus, not a deficit model, and • Must provide for flexibility to meet individual teacher, school and systems needs and capacities noting that one size does not fit all. What is essential for this model to work? The resources to properly support teacher development processes in the form of: • T ime to participate in the appraisal activities without intensifying workload • Access to professional development activities • Facilitation of practical issues: templates, pro formas, clarification of what happens to notes from observations and reports, negotiation of choice of mentor, which lesson/ whether to observe a lesson, the professional discussion to have about the observation, training of teachers in developmental feedback, and • Leadership that models what is being asked, and a leader who provides the resources needed. Teachers at the IEU forum representing independent and Catholic primary and secondary schools, principals, early career and casual teachers agreed that its this type of model – one that works to positively develop teacher capacity - that will work to deliver the goals of improved teacher quality, better teacher retention and job satisfaction, and deliver improvements in student learning outcomes. Sandra White NSW/ACT IEU Organiser Improving teacher effectiveness – the problem with many ‘evaluative’ tools The problem with teacher appraisal is that it can be driven by two different and often contradictory approaches – one focused on capacity building, the other undermined by rhetoric and tools of accountability. One of the great educational thinkers of our time, Michael Fullen (2001), has stated that it is capacity building, rather than increased accountability, that is more likely to lead to outstanding practice. Strategies that do not develop increased capacity (the skills to do something well) are destined to fail. He has identified the accountability movement as one of four ‘wrong drivers’ of reform. He cites as examples of this accountability approach, the use of test results and teacher appraisal to reward or punish teachers and schools, 22|independent education| issue 2|2012

versus capacity building approaches. Fullen maintains that capacity-building involves investment in collaborative practices, coaching technical skill building and so on. Use of appraisal tools to provide feedback No one can deny the importance of great feedback in improving how we do something. However, despite the large amount of time and effort in Australia and elsewhere spent on writing frameworks of teacher standards and methods of evaluating teachers for promotion, teacher registration and the like, there is still no clear agreement on the most valid and reliable tools for identifying and measuring effective teaching. The third important issue here is the challenge of providing insightful, constructive, and meaningful feedback. As with any form of evaluation, the tools and methods used must be valid and useful. The use of one-off classroom observations, unless as part of a collegial support process, and simplistic student surveys, to measure or evaluate teacher performance, are woefully inappropriate to the task of providing quality, useful feedback to a teacher as part of building capacity. Student surveys The use of student surveys to assess teaching practice is dubious and raises serious professional and ethical concerns. There are real questions about the validity and reliability in the basic approach often used to ask questions of students. Many surveys are standard item banks designed by someone who does not teach the student and which essentially get students to tick boxes, making unreferenced and simplistic ratings of a teacher’s pedagogical performance. These standard surveys are often designed irrespective of the context of the specific student’s learning needs, isolated from other factors such as the specific subject or learning area being taught, and the maturity of the students. Many student surveys currently used in teacher appraisal schemes ask students to measure – either frequency, or degree of “effect”. One key issue here is that students don’t necessarily know what it means when they are asked if certain practices or experiences are ‘frequent’ or ‘rare’, ‘effective’ or ‘ineffective’. One student’s perception or understanding of ‘frequent’ can be quite different from another’s. In addition, student surveys often contain education jargon and quite complicated concepts which are open to wide interpretation of meaning. Students can also be asked to comment on the experiences of other children in their class, for example, “students in my class experience….” - without an

Teaching and learning

understanding of the individual learning needs and experiences of these other children. Surveys should not involve students attempting to evaluate or rate a teacher’s performance on various pedagogical elements. Students are not trained observers who understand the full breadth and relevance of effective teaching practices or the particular teacher’s planning and objectives for that class/unit. Do we ask a patient to rank (from very effective to poor) the surgeon’s use of various pieces of technical equipment in the operating theatre? At their most effective, student feedback surveys focus on the students’ learning itself and the environment which fosters that learning for them. The design and focus of student survey questions should be negotiated and agreed with the teacher concerned. This will ensure that they are as relevant as possible to the specific learning context and be useful for both the teacher’s ongoing professional development, as well as planning for student learning purposes. If teachers want to really know about students’ learning and their experiences, there are far more reliable and valid tools than a survey. Simply tabulating survey findings as a measure of teacher effectiveness just doesn’t meet basic tests of reliability and validity. However, teachers should have no problem with using well designed surveys for informal feedback regarding student learning. Ways of seeking feedback on student learning is an important part of the teacher’s toolkit. In a reflective exercise, teachers might well discuss together how they use the feedback on students’ learning to inform their planning and improve teaching practice. Student feedback is a means to an end, not the end itself. Classroom observation The use of classroom observation can also be problematic. In many cases the stated purpose of the classroom observation is to provide constructive feedback in a

developmental sense. However, the manner in which the observer is imposed, who the observer is (often regardless of the identified focus of the observation) and the ownership and use of documentation arising from the observation are inconsistent with the intent and purpose of developmental models. Classroom observation in a capacity building framework works best in a peer support context, with the focus of the observation negotiated and agreed by the teacher being observed. Any written material associated with the observation should be kept by the teacher being observed as part of their planning and development material. At its most dysfunctional and simplistic is the classroom observation interaction that involves rating or ranking performance against separate, individual ‘standards’ or sub-tasks. This practice attempts to be scientific, but is often superficial and subjective and fails to see the interconnectedness of the elements of effective teaching. If individual stand-alone standards (or competencies) are used, they should be used as a reflective tool between peers, that is, as a stimulus to reflection on practice, and not a tool of measurement. Cathy Hickey Education and Policy Officer of the Independent Education Union Victoria Tasmania References • Fullen M 2011 Choosing effective drivers for whole system reform. Seminar series. Centre for Strategic Education • McKenzie P, Rowley G, Weldon P & Murphy M 2011 Staff In Australia’s Schools 2010: Main report on the survey. ACER • Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (2012) Australian Teacher Performance and Development Framework: Consultation proposal independent education| issue 2|2012|23


Rethinking principal appraisal Primary school principals in the Diocese of Ballarat have been involved in the redesign of a formative appraisal model designed to be a truly developmental and supportive process. This process is separate from contract renewal and it focuses solely on capacity building.

The process, developed by a working party of the stakeholders, including IEU officers, primary principals, parish priests and diocesan staff, was piloted by a number of principals in 2011. The process has four key stages: Stage One: Self reflection, where principals reflect on their current practice as an educational leader in a three dayresidential, in collaboration with a number of colleagues and guided by a facilitator. The basis for the reflection are the five key aspects contained in the generic statement of principal responsibilities, and the reflection also uses a number of sources of information which can include the external School Review Report, School Improvement Survey

data, School Improvement Plan and Annual Action achievements, feedback from teachers, parents and students, meetings and collegiate feedback. Stage Two: Identifying and the developing a personal professional learning plan. Stage Three: Implementation of the Action Plan Over the next 12 months, the principals and facilitators meet twice to engage in dialogue. Support for the Action Plan may include opportunities for a diocesan study tour, enrichment leave and formal study. Stage Four: Evaluation and ongoing development. Principals complete a formal evaluation and ongoing development report in discussion with the facilitator.

A positive experience Not so long ago I participated in a Formative Appraisal process and recent ruminations confirm a positive experience. A number of elements coexisted for this to be the case - a skilled, experienced educational leader facilitated the program, which was substantive, reflective and purposeful. Pre-reading was proposed, data collection directed, an idyllic venue well away from the work place was accessed, a small group of like-minded people were gathered and a timetable proposed that was ‘full-on’ utilising the time available but also providing for significant reflection and down time. Systemic ‘permission’ was given for the participants to be out-of-school and pursuing this. It was considered an important undertaking. The combination of presentation, discussion, task and deliberation was a good mix for me. The process was rigorous, focused and reflective, drawing on source material 24|independent education| issue 2|2012

that, in the main, participants provided. This included: recent school review and school performance data, mentor evaluations, enrolment projection etc. Prior completion of individual profiles and questionnaires provided the facilitator with insights and personalised directions. The genuine professional dialogue was both therapeutic and directional. Leadership style ‘tweaking’, role clarification, health and wellbeing, work-life balance and targeted professional learning were all considered. The outcome was clear from the outset: the establishment of professional and related personal goals that would enhance the principal’s performance in their role over the next years, benefiting both themselves and the school. Greg Lane Principal, Sacred Heart Primary School, Mildura, Victoria


Mentoring - benefits and models Have you had someone in your professional life that has helped you? Whether it is to secure a new position or learn more about your current role, many teachers have experienced such assistance. However, what about those who haven’t? Director of Teaching and Learning at St Paul’s School, Bald Hills Qld Leisa Harper, questions how we can ensure that all teachers feel supported.

Mentoring is not a new idea or phenomenon. It has its origins in Homer’s Odyssey and has always had a strong presence in the business sector. However, though mentoring has occurred for many years in Australian education, it has not always been formalised. Many teachers over the years have informally mentored new staff to their work area. However, this type of mentoring has usually begun and ended with finding the photocopier as well as school specific protocols. Mentoring for professional learning and growth requires specific skills and knowledge on the mentor’s behalf to provide a guided approach. Benefits of mentoring There are many benefits to those being mentored, including the development of new skills and identifying areas for further professional growth. The mentored also reflect on gaining increased confidence and job satisfaction. The mentors gain many of the same skills as the mentored do. However, many mentors find the recognition of their professional abilities empowering. This transfers to a costeffective way of developing employees’ skills within schools as well as developing leaders within the school. Program models There are different models of mentoring programs. St Paul’s School in Bald Hills, Queensland, has adopted a mentoring program that meets the needs of their professional learning community. The groups

that are formally provided a mentor include: Beginning teachers (first four years of teaching) • Experienced teachers but new to St Paul’s School (one to two years) • Teachers who have been on leave for 12 months or longer (one to two years), and • Teachers who have expressed the desire to be mentored by someone to assist their use and incorporation of ICT’s. These teachers are supported by a mentor who they had a role in selecting for the period of time indicated. St Paul’s School also offers a course in mentoring through their Centre for Research, Innovation and Future Development for all teachers wishing to know more about mentoring and provide them with skills to perform this role in their school. Mentoring is a mutual professional relationship which not only helps to improve the professional practice of new teachers, but also aids more experienced teachers to gain fresh perspectives and learn about current educational approaches. Overall, mentoring is an important tool for teachers, as mentors play a key role in supporting other teachers – whether they are starting out, returning from leave or new to the school or wanting to learn more – in becoming active agents in analysing and improving their own practice. In doing so, mentiors develop their identity as teachers. To find out more about mentoring and the Centre for Research, Innovation and Future Development, contact Leisa Harper on 07 3261 1388.


independent education| issue 2|2012|25

Role with the write stuff

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diverse roles

What occupation requires you to juggle between the roles of photographer, editor, graphic designer and website content manager in a school? IE Journalist Fiona STUTZ finds out more about the multifaceted role of the school publications/ web officer.

The role of the school publications/web officer may not have existed a decade or two ago, but today the role is adapting to meet schools’ needs as they realise the importance of marketing and self-promotion. Trinity Anglican School, Cairns Publications/ Web Officer Steve Blacklow says schools can effectively use their publications/web officer role to support and enhance all the activities that occur at a school. Some of the tasks Steve is responsible for include: sending out e-newsletters; designing and printed newsletters; coordinating the school glossy magazines once a term; managing the school yearbook; website management; designing and organising the printing of the school’s branded stationery, business cards, ID badges, letterheads and envelopes; media print advertising; signage brochures and school publications, both in print or electronic form. “The newsletter goes out with regular updates of latest news and upcoming events timetables.Future and past events and achievements are covered on the website, both in calendar and feature article form, keeping parents up to date with the school’s happenings. “I attend all major school events, musicals and carnivals to take photographs for use in school publications, website and advertising, to both promote the school and to keep families informed about students’ accomplishments.” In his ninth year at the school, Steve believes the biggest change that has happened in his role over the years is website management. “When I started here in 2004, I was the only person charged with maintaining up-to-date website content. This was done on old web design software which wasn’t very user friendly. “Since then we have had our school website re-skinned and redesigned several times, with different web-editing software packages being introduced over the years. Our current website is twice the size of the one that I first worked on (and) it is much easier to maintain.” Steve says that heading into the future he sees more of his work being web-based, and less in print. “I expect everybody will still like a hard copy yearbook, but e-newsletters and group emails are becoming more suitable for the masses due to portable electronic devices becoming more commonplace. “Also as we work towards ‘training’ our school audience to look to the website in the first instance for any and all information. I see that side of my role continually growing, and therefore the amount of time required to maintain website content.” Steve agrees that there are challenges to his role, such as juggling the different tasks so that each job meets deadline and designing publications that make people want to read an article.

“My favourite part of the job would be the variety of tasks, followed by photography. I still get a sense of accomplishment when I get the yearbook back from the printers, as it is a mammoth undertaking for one person, and takes up the best part of Semester II.”

My role requires knowledge of just about everything that is happening around the school. Knowledge of everything While the role varies greatly from school to school, the role also differs from what most school officers are tasked with. “My role requires knowledge of just about everything that is happening around the school, whereas admin staff, maintenance and teacher aides generally have more specific roles. It is possible that the publications/web officer could be penning articles regarding what all of the above-mentioned school officers are working on, be it reporting, accounting, making a commemorative garden or sourcing rats for biology.” Though he is not sure many of his colleagues have much of an idea of the variety of tasks he undertakes, the relationship he has with other staff is generally open. “I want staff to inform me of anything relevant that is happening around the school for use in my work; they normally wish to have their class or group’s achievement promoted, so it is mutually beneficial. “Even though I don’t work closely with most teachers, I work in with the heads of departments more often for the gleaning of information to go in print or onto our website.” Steve believes the collateral he produces in his role plays an important part in attracting new enrolments, while helping to keep current families happy by publicising the activities of students, groups and the school in general. independent education| issue 2|2012|27

Speedy PD

beauty of TeachMeets

IE Journalist Sue Osborne attended a recent TeachMeet at the Australian Catholic University, Sydney, to find out why these events are causing a buzz in education circles.

TeachMeets originated in Scotland about five years ago, and have taken off in Australia since they were introduced a couple of years ago. Earlier this year a world record breaking TeachMeet (attended by 320 teachers) was held in central Sydney. Matt Esterman, IEU Member and Teacher at Brigidine College, St Ives, Sydney, was among the first teachers to organise a TeachMeet in Australia. He heard about TeachMeets after chatting with UK Education Consultant Simon Breakspear and Douglas Archibald of Whole Education UK at an AITSL-organised PD day. Matt soon joined forces with Henrietta Miller from Roseville College, who had independently started organising TeachMeets with a primary focus. “It was a fantastic opportunity for us as I had a secondary focus and she was primary,” Matt says. “I think the impetus for a lot of teachers to get involved has come from the emphasis on PD, with the Institute of Teachers encouraging teachers to think a lot about what PD they do.” TeachMeets are not registered with the Institute however, and unlikely to be so. There’s no governing body, registration or account keeping for TeachMeets. “The freewheeling aspect of TeachMeets

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is important – it’s so informal and flexible. It’s nobody’s baby, its open to anyone. It has to be that way or it would take the power away from teachers to collaborate and own it.” ‘TeachEats’ often follow TeachMeets, allowing for even more free-flowing conversation. TeachMeets have a quick-fire presentation method where anybody can come and talk for as long as they like about anything they like, although usually in two-minute or sevenminute bites. Everyone is timed to keep things moving. At the ACU TeachMeet Matt would throw a stuffed dingo at speakers when their allotted time was drawing to a close. “It’s good because people can vote with their feet. If it’s something that’s not relevant to you, you can go and get a coffee or a drink at the bar, depending on the venue. It’s not like formal PD where you’re locked into listening to something for 45 minutes that you already know,” Matt says. Topics raised tend to be ‘techie’ with the quick-fire format attracting people used to communicating by Facebook or Twitter, Matt says. A live Twitter feed during the TeachMeet allows teachers to link up with presenters that catch their interest. Until recently TeachMeets were advertised via a wiki rather than a


Left: Matt Esterman and Liz Armenio listen to the presentations. Above: Teachers use the break to swap ideas. Right: A TeachMeet organiser demonstrates the dingo that gets chucked at anyone who talks for too long.

It’s nobody’s baby, its open to anyone. It has to be that way or it would take the power away from teachers to collaborate and own it.

website, although a new website has now been launched. Most people out of the 100 or so attending the ACU TeachMeet were younger teachers, but not all. “This is a great icebreaker to technology for someone who is not used to it. “You might not be tech savvy, but it’s so important and relevant to teaching practice today you can’t really say you’re not a tech person anymore.” Liz Armenio, a teacher with many years experience and an IEU Member at St Augustine’s College in Sydney, is a selfconfessed TeachMeet addict. “Teaching is full on. In order to keep your lessons innovative and interesting you’re forever on the computer, trying to find new ways to teach,” Liz says. “TeachMeets are so friendly and relaxed, you can come and get new ideas quickly and share things with other teachers. “I’ve built up good friendships and my own personal learning network, so that if I have a problem or need an idea I’ve got someone to talk to. “I enjoy the fact that no one’s the boss here, unlike the work environment, and anyone can present.” At the ACU TeachMeet Liz was planning to talk about either setting up a classroom Google site or ‘ICA time”, depending on demand. She ended up doing seven minutes on ICA time (Imagine, Create, Apply time) - her own invention where she allows her Year 5 students

one hour a week to make a product of their own design. Other presentations on the night included Scott Hansen from Sydney CEO talking about podcast and webinars and Jeanette James from Oakhill College, talking about using Google forms to conduct surveys and create maps. Margaret Stelmach from St Mary’s Primary School, George’s Hall, presented on Edmodo, which is similar to Facebook but designed to allow students and teachers to communicate, and Chris Hansen from Hampden Park Public School described how he got his primary students to curate an art show using ipads. Other less technology-focused presentations included Dan Haesler from Emmanuel School and Youth Engage advocating “de-grading education to prevent education from degrading” and Daniel Wong from William Clarke College calling for better use of learning spaces in schools. During the break and at the end of the session there was a lot of conversation between teachers, making links with people whose ideas they liked. TeachMeets seem to attract a lot of nongovernment sector teachers. “I don’t know why really. TeachMeets are sector-blind, so it’s an opportunity for people to mix with others without having to worry about assumptions,” Matt says. There are lots more TeachMeets coming up – see for dates all over Australia, or organise one yourself. independent education| issue 2|2012|29


Acceptable use policies and social media Concerns over the scope of liability of schools for misuse of social media should be balanced against the significant educational opportunities the new media offer, Barrister-at-law Graham Bassett writes.

When faced with the wide range of possible misuses, some schools ban it. The Staff Use of Social Media in Sydney Catholic Schools policy states “sites such as Facebook, MySpace or similar must not be used by staff as learning tools for students”. Others chose to engage with the educational opportunities. Ivanhoe Grammar School has a simple, generic social media policy ( social-media-policy/). It relies on the good judgement of its students. Over the last decade, laws have been modified to cater for cybercrime committed in social media forums. Possession of child pornography, online grooming, accessing data for identity theft and copyright breaches are among many legislated offences. Misuse of social media would cause mental harm to a student rather then physical harm. The NSW Supreme Court found schools are liable for mental harm that arises from bullying where the school does nothing to stop it (Cox v State of New South Wales NSWSC 471 14 May 2007). Schools regulate information technology through an acceptable use policy (AUP) between a school, students and their parents. AUPs ought to be updated to address social media. Each social media provider has it own statement on acceptable and prohibited uses. Facebook has a Statement of Rights and Responsibilities ( terms). Uses that are not approved include using the site to bully; posting content that is hateful, threatening or pornographic, inciting violence, doing anything misleading, malicious or discriminatory. Creating more than one personal profile is prohibited. Twitter has ‘Content Boundaries’ (http:// One prohibited use is not impersonating others in a manner that does or is intended

to mislead, confuse, or deceive. YouTube has Terms of Service ( terms). YouTube is concerned with breach of copyright laws and any poster giving it rights to disseminate works. In relation to how users’ actions impact on others, YouTube states: “We’re not asking for the kind of respect reserved for nuns, the elderly, and professors. We mean don’t abuse the site. Every cool new community feature on YouTube involves a certain level of trust. We trust you to be responsible, and millions of users respect that trust, so please be one of them.” A school ought to complain to a social media provider if it becomes aware of a breach. All providers have the power to suspend and cancel user accounts upon a legitimate complaint being made. While it may take time for a social media provider to react, if is does at all, this request to the provider for action is a necessary part of the standard of care a school should apply in cyberspace. However, a school cannot delegate its care for students to a third party such as the provider. Technical steps would need to be taken within the school system to minimise any harm. It would be wise to hold a meeting with parents to inform them of prohibited uses so they may take their own precautionary steps on a home system. The usual counselling and disciplinary steps as for any victim or misbehaviour ought to be taken. A school AUP does not need to repeat all the policies of the social media providers. Rather, reference ought to be made to those policies in the school AUP. Users rarely read any of the terms of service of a provider. It would be prudent to have an introductory lesson with students on the acceptable and prohibited uses of any provider used in school work. As a broader approach, this could even be done as a part of digital literacy classes for all students. Digital literacy is the fourth R.

Here are some useful sites for AUPs and social media: National, state and territory cyber safety policies • Useful sites from US educators • • Templates of the Victorian Department of Education •

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Café serves up lesson in sustainability We’ve got the potential there in our children, we just need to figure out ways to harness it and make it happen.

The establishment of a worm café at a Brisbane school is teaching students about sustainability and making ethical choices, writes IE Journalist Fiona Stutz.

Students from Our Lady of the Rosary School, Kenmore, have been busy reducing their ecological footprint by collecting leftover scraps from the tuckshop for their worm farm. There, the scraps are broken down and after a week, the worm castings or the worm tea is emptied and poured into the school’s gardens around the worm farm so that it can be fertilised, while also helping to cut down the amount of rubbish the school is generating. OLR Primary School Teacher Louise Erbacher says this whole-of-school approach to sustainability ensures students are getting a real understanding of cause and effect. “The students are watching something going in, and then they’re seeing what happens when it comes out the other side. They really enjoy the chance to get their hands dirty and they are starting to see the impact of cutting down on the rubbish and how much they’re not throwing away into the bin anymore,” Louise says. She says the students were also starting to think of ways they can do even more. “At the moment we are only collecting scraps from the tuckshop, but the children are talking about ways they could collect lunch scraps from each of the classrooms so that we really are ending up with no rubbish bins at all.” However, it is more than just collecting rubbish, as the school has also incorporated it in to their curriculum, developed a recycling team and a sustainability committee. Certain year levels at the school are incorporating the sustainability project in to the classroom as they transition to the Australian Curriculum. “We are trying to find exactly which year level it’s supposed to

focus on, but it does definitely fit into the cross curricular priority and sustainability.” This is being harnessed by some students as part of the R Team, a volunteer lunch time group who are also supporting younger students by teaching each other new ways of doing things. The R Team (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Respect and Renew) undertake other sustainability projects such as the Power Rangers, where they monitor the electricity that’s being wasted while nobody’s in the classroom and rewarding the class that has saved the most energy and Waste Warriors looking at how the school can do more recycling, regenerate the gardens and introduce chickens and native bees. The school has also established a sustainability committee consisting of the Principal, assistant Principal, some parents and teachers who come up different ideas in terms for reducing waste, reducing energy and water consumption and enhancing biodiversity around the school community. “Everybody can see that they have a little role to play and that it’s much more manageable because it’s not left in the hands of a few people.” Louise says the next step is to develop a blog focusing on what the school is doing and to establish ideas and suggestions from people in other schools in the area so that they can do more. “It’s the kids that don’t need any convincing; they are just so excited to be able to get in and do things, they’ve got lots of ideas and we’ve got the potential there in our children, we just need to figure out ways to harness it and make it happen.” independent education| issue 2|2012|31

How important is competitive team sport in school?

Life lessons Ellyse Perry, 22, is a unique sports star, having represented Australia in both cricket and soccer since she was 16. She attended Pymble Ladies College in Sydney. “What’s really important about competitive sport, opposed to just fitness, is that it teaches some fundamental life lessons. “You learn about winning and losing, coping with the emotional ups and downs and that life’s not always rosy. “You learn how to cope with disappointment in a more controlled environment – it is a game after all - and then you can handle things better in real life.

“Sport is something I absolutely love and we were encouraged to take part at our school, but it wasn’t compulsory. “For those girls that are not so keen, there were lots of grades of different abilities, so it wasn’t that threatening an environment. “I got to meet lots of girls through playing sport that I would not have met otherwise. “I found it beneficial to have things in my life to think about outside of the academic pressures. “It was a good break from study, and it taught me to be disciplined and organise my time well, so I could manage my study and sports commitments.”

Kicking goals Mary-Ellen Pascoe, Year 11 student, Shalom College, Bundaberg the classroom because I understand I find that competitive team sports in the importance of working through a school is a lot of fun and really helps problem, looking at various ways of me in the classroom. All my life I have solving the problem and it gives me the enjoyed playing various types of sport – confidence to tackle new ideas that ranging from swimming, soccer, rowing are presented to me. and other competitive sports. I have I have also learnt a lot about found that the team sports are really good sportsmanship on the playing good because it helps to develop team field. The characteristics of a good building skills and a sense of working sportsman or woman such as respect, together to achieve a common goal. integrity, kindness, self-discipline and The challenges of playing a perseverance are also vital in the competitive sport has helped to classroom. develop my level of confidence as I Respect for my peers and teachers tackle new challenges, obstacles and is an important aspect, as is always learn new skills on the sporting field. showing kindness. As I have recently These skills and confidence help me in 32|independent education| issue 2|2012

started Year 11, perseverance and self-discipline are of vital importance. Self-discipline in terms of balancing my school/work/social life is important to ensure that I accomplish and achieve all of my commitments. I believe that a healthy level of exposure to competitive sport is a positive part of people’s life. I would be concerned if it became only about winning and not developing the positive traits that I have outlined above. Competitive school sport has assisted me and I am glad that I have had the opportunity to participate in sport throughout my schooling experience.

Building Skills Gary Terry Health and Physical Education Teacher, Salesian College Sunbury, Victoria

IEU Women’s Conference Woman at Work – supporting, strengthening, sustaining The Mercure, Sydney, Friday, 17 August. Keynote speakers are Deborah O’Neill, MP for Robertson and Laura Wright, from NGS Super. There will be a special presentation: Celebrating a Win for Clothing Industry Outworkers by Michele O’Neil. Contact Betty Tan on 9779 3200 or email betty@ieu. to register.


Talking point

If schools seek to provide a well rounded curriculum then competitive sport must find a place. The extent to which schools endeavour to make a commitment towards offering a competitive sports program is affected by many factors. In some quarters it is argued that students have this opportunity readily available in the wider community. This view fails to appreciate the ‘shared goals’ that form between students when school teams are created. I recently overhead the unrestrained enthusiasm expressed by students at our school when they had won their first game. They had trained hard, forgone their lunch breaks and they had achieved success. Now, new goals could be set. Competitive sport enables students to test their skills against a more diverse group and ultimately become more skilled. In making a commitment to competitive sport, schools have financial and operational decisions to make which causes great angst within sections of the school community. What impact will it have on the academic timetable? How will it be financed in the context of replacing teachers (coaches), transport, umpires and venue hire? Teaches who take on the role of coach do so often knowing they are giving up their valuable planning time. Their workload is increased yet they continue to volunteer so passionately for the benefits they know that flows through to their students.

Team spirit Patricia Burgess, Principal, Kildare Catholic College, Wagga, NSW As many of you would know from years of experience in education some issues keep circulating and debates keep arising. Competitive sport is one of those debates. As a principal of a fairly large co-educational secondary college and a mother of three sons, I believe that competitive sport is important in schools for a number of reasons. These include personal esteem, organisational and social skills, commitment, life balance and disappointment. For some students who do not achieve academically, success at sport is important for their confidence and self-esteem. As we recognise the achiever in the classroom it is important to acknowledge the success of those who have achieved at their chosen sport. To achieve in competitive sport one must train regularly and make sacrifices. One must be well-organised and manage time efficiently. These are skills needed through life. An important value is commitment; competitive sport demands this of athletes in all fields. Balance is key to a happy and productive life. For every student a balance must be struck between the competing demands of academic work and competitive sport. The social researcher Hugh Mackay believes that to be truly human is to occasionally experience sadness and disappointment. Without that you’ll never know what happiness is. Competitive sport teaches students to work hard to achieve their goals, to be part of a team and to sometimes experience disappointment as a natural part of life. In addition to the benefits for the individual competitive sport has benefits for the whole school community. A real school spirit develops when we gather together to support our team. As a new school, competitive sport has provided invaluable opportunities for the Kildare community spirit to develop and grow.

The Queensland Education Resources Expo Educators from early childhood, prep, primary and secondary education through to higher education institutions have the opportunity to access the latest on offer in education resources. This free event also hosts an extensive professional development seminar program. Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 September, 10am-3pm, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Sixth National Leading a Digital School Conference

This conference is first and foremost a conference about leadership. The focus is on digital technology from a leadership perspective. Who should attend? The Conference is to be held at QT Gold Coast, 7 Staghorn Ave, Surfers Paradise, Queensland on Thursday 13, Friday 14 and Saturday 15 September. Details:

Teaching and Learning with Vision Conference The conference will enable participants to learn about the latest innovations in technology and learning and share expertise with colleagues. The conference will be held from 7-9 November at the Radisson Resort Gold Coast. Visit



Did you know that almost 7 million Australians* will retire with far less super than they expected? This shortfall may affect your lifestyle in retirement and things may not be quite as super as you had hoped.

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independent education| issue 2|2012|33


Dickens on screen Charles Dickens (1812-1870) created a rich body of literary work, steeped in personal, social and cultural observations, which many filmmakers and television producers have been keen to adapt for the screen.

There is something universal and timeless about his carefully developed morality tales that embody the human will to survive and prosper despite difficult circumstances. In novels ranging from Oliver Twist (adapted many times, including a classic 1948 version by David Lean, and a multiaward winning musical version in 1968), to David Copperfield, A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities, film and TV producers have seen the intrinsic interest in the stories and the applicability to contemporary audiences. Indeed, stage productions are also in evidence around the world, endorsing the wide applicability of Dickens to other mediums. Great Expectations has proven to be Dickensâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; most robust novel, with over 20 film and television adaptations available, ranging from a silent version made in the USA in 1917, to a Finnish adaptation in 1925, and most recently a three-part BBC version (2011). The story of the impoverished orphan Pip getting a new chance at a successful life, while searching for his first true love, is the basis for a compelling narrative. It also serves as a socially critical view of the class system, and the exigencies of poverty in nineteenth century London. The 1946 David Lean version of the story is regarded as the benchmark, due to its gritty realism, careful adaptation of the original novel, and its messages about courage, survival and optimism in the face of difficult circumstances. It is interesting to note that a musical version of the story, filmed in 1967, titled Half a Sixpence, used the same plot but focused more on the romantic aspect of the story something Dickens may not have approved of. Interest continues with a new film version in production now, directed by Mike Newell, and starring Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes. It is worth exploring a contemporary version of the Great Expectations saga, by looking at the 1998 Alfonso Cuaron film with the same title, and set in modern day New York. Ethan Hawke plays the Pip character (retitled Finn) as an impoverished artist given the opportunity through a benefactor to live well, while at the same time pining for his early romantic entanglement with a woman beyond his station, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. It is always interesting to see filmmakers relocate stories from particular historic/social settings to a contemporary milieu, as has happened to Shakespeare. In this case, the risky nature of the contemporary reformulation of the story works in its favour, allowing the audience to understand the emotions, narrative devices and plot developments in a modern setting, without losing the thrust of the original material and its social commentary. The filmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s moody qualities, and at times breathtaking cinematography, heighten the emotional arc of the story. Celebrating Dickens in this centenary year of his birth proves how timeless his work actually is. Peter Krausz is Chair of the Australian Film Critics Association, film critic, film journalist and radio broadcaster. For any feedback, suggestions etc. please email him on:

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Take on a green challenge with Enviroweek ambassador

Jessica Watson

FINAL CALL for schools to register First 500 classes to register will receive a prize! Register now at Educating for a sustainable future

One Voice

72,000 Members Strong

There are many benefits of being an IEU member. Every member strengthens the voice of the organisation that continually negotiates for improvements in your pay and conditions. As a member you are also entitled to the support of your Union on general industrial matters, advice regarding your individual work circumstances and access to professional development, resources and a range of other services. The IEU represents the professional interests and concerns of all members at a state, territory and national level, whether they work in a school, early childhood service, English college, business college or other non-government educational institution. Our officers are just a phone call away and are available to meet personally with members, at the IEU office or at their workplace by appointment. Add your voice to that of 72,000 of your colleagues and find out today what Union support is all about. Join now by contacting your nearest branch.

Call NSW/ACT (02) 9779 3200|QLD/NT (07) 3839 7020|VIC/TAS (03) 9254 1860 WA (08) 9373 1000|SA (08) 8410 0122

IE: Issue 2 / Vol 42 / 2012  
IE: Issue 2 / Vol 42 / 2012  

The early childhood magazine of the NSW/ACT Independent Education Union