"When it comes to Tasmania Tomorrow, I did not get it all right, I did not communicate it right and I did not implement it all right," Mr Bartlett said in parliament on the 5 May 2010.
This website is under construction for the PY10 Division of the Tasmanian Branch of the AEU.
For more details about this website please contact Greg Brown GregB@aeutas.org.au
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Arguably, the most challenging area of schooling is the middle years, especially the early secondary years or adolescent stage. Teachers are most reluctant to teach in these years and principals consistently report that this is the stage of schooling that requires the most attention. Yet levels of investment in these years are relatively low, and inexperienced teachers are more likely to be allocated to these year levels, especially in schools with high concentrations of students from low SES households. page 25
Numerous studies (e.g. Lamb et al, 2004) have pointed to disengagement from learning in the middle years as a key factor in early school leaving. page 28
If the target of 90 percent completion of Year 12 or its equivalent is to be achieved, and current patterns indicate that secondary schools will have to carry most of the responsibility for this. page 42
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* The term "experiment" was used by Dr TOM KARMEL, (Managing Director for the NATIONAL CENTRE FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION RESEARCH ) guest speaker at the Polytechnic Education conference on 8 May 2008 at Bellerive, Hobart. See paper at this link (page 3)
Great Education Quotes at this link
Welcome to Save our Colleges, Bring back TAFE Tasmania.
"If our aim is to help students become lifelong learners by cultivation of spirit for enquiry, then we must provide the same conditions for teachers."
"Its staff are, therefore, a TAFE provider's most important resource."
"Reform is a collective achievement. One does not do it alone - not in this profession, at least."
Beare, H. (2010) Six Decades of Continuous School Restructioning
ACEL Monograph Series 46
In a study of the best workplaces in Australia, (Hull & Read, 2003), the quality of the working relationships, characterised by openness and trust, were central components of excellent workplaces. Certainly if school reform is to be sucessful then trust is essential (Silins & Milford, 2000)
Turkington, M. (2010:82) Leading & Managing Vol 15 No. 2
This website has been developed to help communicate to the wider community the concerns the Australian Education Union - Tasmanian Secondary & TAFE division, its members and others have in the implementation of the Post Year 10 Tasmanian education and training reforms. To state the obvious, the reforms are a good example of what not to do when trying to reform any industry sector. Simply reading Michael Fullan educational reform work could have informed the change leaders about what and what NOT to do.
This website has become necessary due to the incorrect, inaccurate or 'political spin' that the dominates the current reform debates. Teachers try to avoid being caught up in politics except when it impacts of their ability to provide a 'well rounded' education for their students or when their standard of living is reduced below their 'professional' status. see McKinsey's report - page 23
Teachers voiced their concerns about the reforms in the first few weeks after school resumed in 2009. They were told at the time that there were 'teething' troubles and were prepared to provide the reforms time to 'bed in'. These teething problems continued to a point when the AEU - Tasmanian division had no alternative but to seek quantitive data about the reforms in April 2009, to claify and substanciate the concerns raised. Ivan Webb was appointed to collected and correlate the data. See "Our Concerns" tab above for the results of this research.
What is of MAJOR concern to many teachers is the lack of consultation about what reforms were needed and the most cost effective way for the tax payer to achieve the reforms. As Associate Professor David Loader indicated in his regular column in the December 2009 issue of Teacher, "Why does the teaching profession allow politicians and bureacrats to so heavily influence education in Australia? The medical and legal professions would not stand for it, so why do highly qualified and experienced educators allow it? "
In 2007, the Mckinsley Report looked at the characteristics of the top performing schools and education systems in the world. It found that;
1. The quality of the education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers.
2. The only way to improve educational outcomes is to improve instruction.
3. High performance requires every child to suceed.
It is interesting to note that the reforms have concentrated on the things that were 'doable' with relative ease. Change a name or an organisation, changing a business system (no matter how ineffective it is) , moving staff physically, etc are all easy. As the above international study and what Michael Fullan has directly experienced, the ONLY WAY to improve student learning is to increase the quality of the teachers and the resources the teachers have access to to support them in their teaching. This takes a HUGE amount of money and time and requires 'buy in' by teachers and other staff. Teaching is not just a job, it is a profession, a humanistic one. Effective teachers put their heart and their soul into their work because they believe it is worthwhile (Blanchard, K. & Bowles, S. 1998).
These reforms are about looking to do something about education. This emphasis is on 'looking' to do, not 'doing'. Make no mistake about it, these reforms are about political spin (and reducing total expenditure on education and training in Tasmania) and not about supporting ALL Tasmania access affordable and equitable education and training. If the Tasmanian government was serious about ensuring our children leave school with appropriate qualifications that allow for future pathways, it would have approached the process totally differently.
Why the Reform? (source)
Tasmania Tomorrow is a Tasmanian-government experiment* to improve the post-secondary education experience of Tasmanians. This initiative commenced 1 January 2009, and includes the restructuring of Senior Secondary Colleges and TAFE Tasmania. The restructuring will take place over a period of time, to enable institutes to come on board with the initiative when their local community is ready, with an expectation that all colleges will have made the transition in time for the start of the 2011 school year.
The institutes that will come out of this initiative are:
See a brief article about the changes from The Australian, 24 Jan 2009.
Read what TAFE TAsmania told their 2008 students......here
Was this necessary?
In a word, NO ! - It is well recognised that students drop out of school or education for a number of reasons.
The recent Grattan Report has found that 30 % of Australian Grade 9 students only have very basic literacy skills. Ironic isn't it, that this 30% figure is similar to Tasmania's Grade 10 - 11 retention figure of 30%.
If the Premier had bothered to ask the Tasmanian community what they thought the issues on student retention were, he would have been told exactly the same thing. Thirty percent of out Tasmanian students and more in district high schools are illiterate for the 21st century. International research has found what we all know, students don't hang around school if they cannot read, write, comprehend and use mathematics to access numeracy tasks. (This is why quick fixes like extending the school leaver age through legislation is and will be a failure - even when teachers are told to dumb down their courses so that everyone can win a prize!)
The suggested and preferred educational model is to develop Tasmanian high schools into a Grade 7 -12 institutions. All other Australian states have this model (the ACT is not a state last time I checked!). The Academy / Polytechnic / Skills Institute model was chosen because of a number of reasons, some budgetary, some ego and some 'Yes Minsiter' bureaucrats who saw the opportunity to climb the promotion ladder and be paid more! This model was not supported by any research...we are still waiting Mr Bartlett...........anytime now will be fine............
It is interesting to note that the Tasmanian community were told lies about the merits of the three institution model......................
What are the problems?
The Tasmania Tomorrow implementation was rushed with no adequate planning, including the lack of implementation risk assessment taking place. Someone had a big idea, but didn't not worry about the detail. This didn't matter, Tasmanian taxpayers have plenty of money for a trial and error approach.
Urgency was replaced by haste and the results are education and training systems in disarray. Effective systems allow teachers to education our next generation with direction and purpose.
The AEU's observation is that the Tasmanian Polytechnic has inherited TAFE Tasmania business systems (including an obese middle & upper management structure), while the Tasmanian Academy uses similar structures to their old college structures. (this is why there are so few Tasmanian Academy issues compared to that of the Tasmanian Polytechnic and Tasmanian Skills Institute and I quote a Tasmanian Polytechnic Change Leader "looking for someone in the Polytechnic who would consider acting as the Poly's AEU rep to assist her as the issues, problems, award and structure differ so much from the Academy)."
Granted that the reforms included a three year implementation timeline, many of the issues have resulted due to a lack of consultation with those at the coal face and reactive management techniques. This model contradicts a proven model by Michael Fullen.
Another major problem is that although the Polytechnic CEO, Belinda McLennan, keeps saying that secondary college pedagogies and pastoral care programs will form the basis of teaching and learning programs in the Polytechnic and that former college teachers will be important in providing professional learning about these TQA Foundation subjects in which college pedagogies are embedded, they have been allowed to disappear, and former college teachers are being forced to adopt TAFE teaching methods and practices, developed by Polytechnic managers that currently do not meet teacher registration criteria, as defined by the Tasmanian Teacher Registration Board.
Student Retention - An observation
One of the main reasons sprouted time and time again to support the PY 10 reforms relates to 'student retention'. The figures a correct. Retention was low in Tasmania and is historic. There are two main reasons for this history.
1. Students, that due to family background, see no point to further education and most probably will not seek employment that requires a high level of education. This is a generational issue that needs to be approached from a whole of society position. Hoping a 'carrot' will re-engage this type of student demonstrates a sad understanding of the causes of retention by Mr Bartlett and other 'leaders'.
2. Availability of jobs. If you review the past 8 years of Tasmania's economy, you will see that there has been a high demand for employees due to favorable economic conditions. It stands to reason that if you have not enjoyed your past 11 years of schooling, you will not hang around in education if there is a job available. And this is what has occured. The Global Financial Crisis has resulted in a significant reduction in non skilled jobs available and as a result students have remained in the eduaction system. The GFC's timing has been VERY convenient for Premier Bartlett and Mr Smyth and their PY 10 reforms. If 2009 student retention increases, it has more to do with the GFC than a more relevant and engaging pathway provided by the Tasmanian Polytechnic.
Before these sweeping reforms were begun, you would have thought a more target response would have been used. Not only would this type of support would have helped those communities most in need, this approach would have been fare more cost effective than the sweeping, one size fits all approach to fixing the retension issue. Retention data by region is easily obtained. Why wasn't this data used to inform what and where community need was most great? (it is obvious that these reforms have nothing to do with 'retention'. Rather, they are designed to clean out the educational cupboards, in a slight of hand way.)
You will notice from the above chart that the blue line started to head downwards from 2004. This downwards trend can be directly related to economic prosperity in the state during this time. 2010 ABS retention statistics should indicate a blue line upward trend about the same time as the global Financial Crisis (GFC) occured in 2008. This has also occured in the USA. See report at this link. CEO of the Tasmanian Academy also acknolwdged that the GFC has influence students returning to education.
Chart image source - Dr Tom Karmel, Managing Director, National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) NCVER research as it relates to the Tasmanian Polytechnic Presentation [PowerPoint 7MB]
No doubt, Premier Bartlett will spruke that 'his' PY10 reforms have had a hand in the blue line upward trend when it is published by the ABS in 2010. If this is the case, we could also contibute Labor's mismanagement of the Tasmanian Education portfolio to cause the downward trend from 2004. If governments could change trend data so easily, why don't they do this globally? Because, as any educated person knows, governments are only a servants. The master is the global market and big business. Goverments can only react to what business does or wants. S
It is also interesting to note that.......
Page 4 LEARNING ALTERNATIVES : A LAST CHANCE OR A REAL CHOICE? John Spierings Dusseldorp Skills Forum September 2003
If Mr Spierings finding are correct, then the changes don't really address the core issue.
See full report...
What really cements the case for a retention whitewash is the recent OECD report on economic prosperity through a country's educational obtainment. The OECD has found that "The relationship between cognitive skills and economic growth has now been demonstrated in a range of studies". Page 13 It goes on to claim that "it is the quality of learning outcomes, not the length of schooling, which makes the difference".
Researchers using Relative Risk Aversion theory to explain the continued association between social class and higher education argue that inequalities in educational attainment persist because students are more concerned with avoiding downward mobility than with achieving upward mobility (Breen & Goldthorpe 1997; Goldthorpe 1996; Goldthorpe 2007; Goldthorpe & Breen 2007; Holm & Jaeger 2008). Breen and Goldthorpe (1997: 283) argue that parents seek to ensure that their children ‘acquire a class position at least as advantageous as that from which they originate’. Van de Werfhorst and Hofstede (2007: 403) tested RRA theory finding that children from all social backgrounds were equally concerned with maintaining their social position and avoiding downward mobility. Page 6 http://cepr.anu.edu.au/pdf/DP637.pdf
That is, if the costs associated with university fees and resources, foregone earnings and the risk of failure, outweigh the benefits of moving into a higher social class there is little incentive for working class students to pursue higher education (Holm & Jaeger 2008: 200). Page 6 http://cepr.anu.edu.au/pdf/DP637.pdf
Maximally Maintained Inequality theory argues that before the impact of social class on educational attainment can be reduced, ‘saturation’ among the privileged class needs to be achieved (Raferty & Hout 1993: 57). Therefore, educational expansion will not necessarily reduce educational inequality. If the increase in opportunities only allows more students from the privileged class to enter higher education, there will be no change in the relative proportions of students from the various social class positions (Arum et al. 2007: 31). An increase in the number of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds will only occur when all of the students from the privileged class are accommodated and supply of university places continues to exceed demand. That is, when ‘saturation’ is reached and the expanding sector needs to attract greater numbers of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds to fill universities. Page 7 http://cepr.anu.edu.au/pdf/DP637.pdf
RRA theory predicts that people will only invest in their education to avoid downward mobility (Breen & Goldthorpe 1997; Goldthorpe 1996; Goldthorpe & Breen 2007). Students from the privileged class have higher educational aspirations than students from the working class because they need to study longer to acquire the credentials required to maintain their social class position. Putting these two theories together can explain why the expansion of higher education has not negated the relationship between parent’s education and child’s education and why women have been taking up higher education in increasing numbers. Page 17 http://cepr.anu.edu.au/pdf/DP637.pdf
Retention rates increased dramatically during the 1980s and 1990s and by 2006, 75 percent of students completed high school (ABS 2007). In 2006, the completion rate for students from low socioeconomic backgrounds was 59 percent whereas around 78 percent of students from high socioeconomic backgrounds completed high school (Bradley et al. 2008: 27). page 5 http://cepr.anu.edu.au/pdf/DP637.pdf
An education expert says she is worried the push to keep young people in school longer could turn some off the entire education system for life.
It has been one year since the Federal Government, along with state and territory leaders, agreed to a national target of a 90 per cent year 12 retention rate by 2015.
The plan, known as the "learn or earn" scheme, is a push to get all Australians under the age of 25 either working, studying or training.
Dr Kitty te Riele told a public forum at the University of Technology Sydney last night that raising the school leaver age will not have the desired effect.
"If you force kids to stay in school who would rather leave, then it can turn what can be fairly neutral feelings about education into really negative feelings, and a wish never, ever to return to education at all," she said.
Dr te Riele says the school system needs to become more flexible.
"So that if young people for some reason leave the education system for a while, we have pathways that get them back into the education system at a time that suits them," she said.
* The term "experiment" was used by TOM KARMEL, (Managing Director for the NATIONAL CENTRE FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION RESEARCH ) guest speaker at the Polytechnic Education Conference on 8 May 2008 at Bellerive, Hobart. See paper at this link (page 3)