Thursday, 14 December 2017


I'm not too sure how much we can learn from Singapore.... but this was in today's SMH

Australia could learn from education powerhouses Singapore and Finland and restructure the daily school experience for students, according to federal Education Department boss Michele Bruniges.

Looking to the nature and structure of school learning in high performing countries overseas and improving the value placed on the teaching profession could help lift academic performance, Dr Bruniges said, along with better use of existing student performance data.

In an interview at Melbourne University the former NSW public servant and OECD student assessment board chair, said national teaching standards needed to be effectively implemented to ensure school selection was not "a lottery".

"I think there are many lessons that we need to take stock of from our colleagues in high performing countries," she said.

"Some of the research that are done in places like Singapore, like Finland, actually look at the nature and structure of the day.

"They look at the high value of teaching as the status of the teaching profession which is incredibly important. They look at principalship and the importance of school leadership."

Dr Bruniges said research on the most effective use of teachers in schools, class sizes and smaller group learning helped high performing countries meet students' needs.

Recent rankings by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found Singapore out performed developed countries on the quality, equity and efficiency of school systems, with countries including Japan, Estonia, Finland and Canada close behind.

Australia was found to be among countries where the share of students performing at the highest levels was falling, at the same time as the share of low performing students increased.

In June, Australia ranked 39 out of 41 high and middle-income countries in achieving quality education, according to a United Nations Children's Fund report.

An expert in education measurement, Dr Bruniges said Australia needed to better learn from data about students' progress.

"Having the right scales to be able to look at the data we're collecting, look at the validity and the reliability of data that we have before us, to rely and form strategic partnerships and alliances with the university sector and third party providers who do have a great deal of evidence and to link that evidence up to inform policy discussion.

"To me it's absolutely critical."

She said linking schools data with education policy and national standards would help improve students' lives.

"I think the National Professional Teaching Standards go a long way towards [consistent results] but what you have to do is to ensure that they're operationalised or implemented in each school section.

"Part of ensuring that we do that, is that we focus on our school leadership, [on] performance development cycles for teachers and where their professional learning dollars are spent goes to areas of weakness that are identified.

"That we performance develop our staff and that we be really frank and fearless about providing good constructive feedback to teachers about where they're doing wrong and where they're not doing so well," she said.

Meanwhile...the Royal Commission into sexual abuse of Children in institution has released their final report. The Catholic system didn't come out of it looking too good. This is one view from a survivor.

Child sexual abuse survivor Damian De Marco is calling for the Catholic Church to be banned from operating Australian schools unless it agrees to report abuse revealed during confession. 

The call comes as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse prepares to hand down its final report tomorrow.

Mr De Marco said government support should be pulled from Catholic schools unless the church promises to protect children over its own reputation."I don't think they should have a license to run schools anymore if they continue to promise to their institution that they will conceal child sexual abuse," he said.

The Canberra-based child safety campaigner fronted the royal commission after decades of fighting to prevent children suffering abuse.

Mr De Marco attended Marist College, which was the subject of dozens of allegations of sexual abuse against several brothers.

The college has since apologised to the victims.

Senior church leaders have said on several occasions they would not abide by a royal commission recommendation to break the seal of confession to report child sexual abuse to police.

"They continue to say 'we are above the law of society'," Mr De Marco said.

"If they continue with that, how can they continue to be funded and supported by our government with our children?

"They don't get it, they still don't get it."

'It has to come to an end'

He fears politicians will not act on the commission's toughest recommendations, concerned allegiances to religious institutions will create a conflict.

"How can we continue with the knowledge that they've been running a secret judicial system hidden from our society, trafficking paedophiles from place to place ... allowing more and more children over and over again to be abused?" he said.

"It has to come to an end."

Mr De Marco believes the royal commission has enlightened society about the problems within the Catholic Church.

But he is concerned the institutions will continue to yield power in the community."The Church has drawn a line in the sand and said 'we believe we are still entitled to be above the law'," he said.

"Now it's up to society, do we let them, do we not?"


Saturday, 9 December 2017

Catholic system attacks Gonski

The Catholic system using Auditor General data has come out to attack Birmingham's so called Gonski funding reforms.

The Auditor General’s report Monitoring the Impact of Australian Government School Funding shows how school funding needs fundamental change, not tinkering, Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd (CECV) Executive Director Stephen Elder says.

‘Coverage of the report has focussed on “rich” and “poor” schools,’ Mr Elder said, ‘but the simple fact is that the Commonwealth’s funding model doesn’t actually identify “poor” students – or allocate funding specifically to them.

‘Instead, the measure used to assesses school family incomes and wealth – school Socio-Economic Status (SES) scores – is perhaps the worst means test found in any policy anywhere in the country.

‘SES scores are not actually based on the families in a school, but the neighbourhoods they live in.

‘Perversely, this is highly disadvantageous to schools that enrol low-income families that happened to live anywhere other than low income areas.

‘It results in bizarre outcomes whereby families at elite independent schools in Victoria such as Haileybury College are assessed to be less wealthy than the families in dozens of low-fee Catholic parish primary schools throughout Melbourne, including schools where more than 15% of students come from families with a Health Care Card.

‘With such a faulty approach, it is no wonder that Catholic systems are forced to reallocate grants between schools.

‘Bureaucrats in Canberra working on spreadsheets can’t pretend to have better information on school needs than the people at the coalface in Catholic education who run and manage schools.

‘They can’t pretend that the diverse funding needs of schools can be accurately estimated – right around the country – using a one-size-fits-all model with six crude and simplistic loadings.

‘Catholic education has shown, in two publicly available reports, that school SES scores are a poor measure of need and that they are structurally biased against Catholic schools.

‘The Gonski Review panel told the government more than five years ago to develop a new measure “as soon as possible”.

‘It added “The current SES measure is … subject to a potentially large degree of inaccuracy as the students attending a particular school are not necessarily representative of the socioeconomic averages of the areas in which they live. A more precise measure of the SES of a school would be more accurate and credible. The panel considers that work should commence as a priority to develop a more precise measure of capacity to contribute to replace the existing SES measure.”

The academic who created the SES system, Associate Professor Stephen Farish, said in May this year: “The SES scoring system is outdated and needs to be reviewed … It is clearly not working at the top end for the more prestigious schools … It is clearly time to overhaul it.”

‘The Grattan Institute also has also called for a review – and to emphasise the one-way direction of the debate on SES scores, the Centre for Independent Studies has found; “Since the Catholic system mostly charges low fees, it is disadvantaged by school SES scores … Certainly there is a strong case for reviewing the arrangements for calculating school SES scores and considering alternative methods.”

‘Unfortunately, Education Minister Simon Birmingham has ignored these reports – along with the recommendations of the Gonski Review – by putting SES scores at the heart of his funding policies for non-government schools.

‘The Minister is now trying to fix his school funding shambles by having the National Schools Resourcing Board review SES scores, along with dodgy new data on students with disability – all after he legislated for these to drive school funding outcomes for the next decade.

‘Without major reform we will see what the ANAO and day-to-day experience shows us – that there are major problems with the way the Australian government estimates school funding needs.’

Detailed information on how the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria allocates government grants to schools may be found in the publication Allocating government grants to Catholic schools in Victoria, available from the CECV website.

And again.....

Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s comment ‘special interest groups’ should not ‘attempt to undermine’ students with disability policy ‘just because the results don’t suit one particular agenda or another’ fails to recognise crucial details, Catholic Education Melbourne Executive Director Stephen Elder says.

‘Yet again it appears that Senator Birmingham either lacks understanding or has been forgetful when it comes to policy,’ Mr Elder said.

‘The Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD) was never intended to be used for funding purposes. It simply wasn’t designed for this.

‘Not only does it expect thousands of teachers across Australia to make consistent “judgements” on any additional needs of students.

‘It creates the situation where schools, to a large extent, can determine their own funding. It’s open to abuse.

‘It assumes that all schools have the same financial and personnel capacities to accurately determine the number of students who require support and does not measure unmet need.

‘In short, it is neither fair, consistent nor rigorous.

‘Senator Birmingham recognised this himself when he said less than 12 months ago that the data he has based his policy on “fails a basic credibility test”.

‘That 2016 NCCD showed inexplicable anomalies between states and school sectors. The 2017 NCCD looks no different. There continue to be many anomalies. It fails the Minister’s own test. 

‘This would be immediately obvious to all stakeholders if he publically released all NCCD data collected since 2012.

‘Senator Birmingham insists the quality of data will improve, yet for the past three years this has not been the case.

‘For example, in the 2017 NCCD, for the third year in a row, some sectors have submitted data that strains credulity.’

Mr Elder said using the NCCD for funding compounds Senator Birmingham’s policy blunder over school Socio-Economic Status scores.

‘Senator Birmingham ignored the advice of the original Gonski Review panel’s final report and made SES scores the key determinant of funding for non-government schools in his education package back in May.

‘Now, he has been forced to review SES scores because of their unfair treatment of Catholic – and he has been forced to review using the NCCD to fund schools.

‘Back in May, the government said that their policies would “end the school funding wars”. Perhaps Senator Birmingham should just focus on bringing an end to his policy blunders.’

Book steps

How incredible are these stairs in Singleton Heights Primary School! Congrats to the Principal @bulldogspurs & Librarian @librarylookbook, as well as the team at Arty Pants Playground. 

From Kristin Ferguson

Friday, 8 December 2017

Visit Paula's Place to find her Christmas based units.


Came up to work to clean and do our semester 2 reports! There is always some issue with them, this time adding in absence days. Hopefully I can be guided through it over the phone.
Beetle at the front gate today.
I'll have my Ramose unit finished and on TPT next weekend.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Sovereign Hill visit

Photos include: bowling, panning for gold, dress up and playing old fashioned games with Matt, troopers, Mail coach, gold pour, farm animals and more!
Great but tiring day!


Next step is now yours Mr Merlino

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes has ruled out allowing computers to mark NAPLAN writing tasks, warning it is "preposterous" to suggest machines could do a better job than humans and described it as a "direct attack on the teaching profession".

Mr Stokes revealed his staunch opposition to computer marking of writing tests ahead of Friday's federal Education Council meeting when ministers will consider plans by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) to introduce robo marking next year.

Meanwhile the Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Private schools are set to get more than 100 per cent of their needs from governments under the  new "Gonski 2.0" plan

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Myer Christmas window

Featuring a depiction of Melbourne at Christmas time in the early 60s
Other decorations on Sturt St at 6:30 this morning

Easter Island statues finished

Hatshepsut paper doll and wrapping a mummy!
My Prep girl reading today.
This morning at work.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Starting to make a mummy

Making Easter island statues and a mummy.
Decorating our tree

Finished Dick Whittington

Dick Whittington house and postcard finished. We start Stone Soup tomorrow.
Model ship looking good and Captain America poster finished.
Loads of these bugs around today
And these birds.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Yeah, One Nation knows what's what!

One Nation senator Brian Burston writes to all schools in NSW warning them of boat loads of armed foreigners coming here to enforce their religion and customs.

Gonski fraud

Victorian Catholic schools will soon receive millions more in Commonwealth funding for students with a disability than state schools.

The changes reflect new data – which the Catholic sector has previously described as "dodgy" – that determines funding under the Turnbull government's Gonski 2.0 model.


Funding for students with a disability was previously based on medical assessments, but is now based on teachers' assessments of students' needs.

New federal Education Department figures show that Commonwealth disability loadings for Victorian Catholic schools will increase by 26 per cent, to $188 million in 2018. 

Disability loadings for Victorian state schools will grow incrementally, by 5.6 per cent, to $171.7 million, while those for independent schools will dip 4.5 per cent to $117.8 million.

Victorian state schools – which educate 71.3 per cent of funded students with a disability according to the Productivity Commission – were previously set to receive the largest share of Commonwealth disability funding.

Catholic schools were initially projected to lose disability funding next year.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Two Goats

Starting work on the Two Goats fable. Completed our fighter plane models and starting a pirate ship model.
Finishing off the Two Goats and starting work on Captain America for the grade 3 comics unit.