Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Research road block

I'm still researching the jobs of the future and can say at this stage that I am feeling more confident about the future for our youth.  There are however negatives that are of concern.

It's a big topic and I want to get it as right as I can before posting what I have discovered from the point of view of a school Principal.

One enjoyable road block is me needing to assist one of my grandchildren, now in first year high school, with an assignment on the family tree. Fascinating stuff, especially when you go back to great great grandparents. I also send my grandies a riddle each week and love the communication and some of their answers.

Chat soon about the current topic of 'jobs of the future'.

In closing, and on another worrying school matter, is the emerging violence from parents towards school Principals and their teachers. With email contact available to parents I feel there is a sense of the school staff being able to drop everything to provide instant gratification. Schools have to have a very public and purposeful student, staff and parent wellbeing program to counter this alarming trend.

May the Force be with you!



GD



Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Principal introspection

In good old Western Australia (WA) as a school Principal I would be faced with implementing the Australian National Curriculum (ANC) or a WA version of it.  I want to state up front that in a country like Australia, where responsibility for public (state or government ) schooling is a matter for each of the six states and 2 territories I am very comfortable in now having the ANC. The Federal Australian government assists each state with funding for education and at times sets out conditions like regular national testing in literacy and numeracy that states must abide by to receive the federal money. This national testing is known as NAPLAN (National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy).

Within the above context I would spend a considerable period of alone - time introspection as either a primary (elementary) school Principal or a secondary (high) school Principal working out how with my school staff I could implement an ANC taking into account what the futurists predict for the world and its employment opportunities of the future.

This would require me to educate myself about these futurist predictions. Currently I am doing this and find it a bit mind blowing. It causes me to ask whether the ANC fits the bill in readying my students for this ever changing world or does it generally fit the bill but needs some adaptations  added within my school community? As a primary school Principal I would undoubtedly come to a different set of conclusions compared to a Secondary school Principal whose students are much closer to further relevant tertiary studies or entrance to the world of work.

Being a senior person, Principal now well into retirement, I clearly recall in my day (God help me for this cliche) the contemporary view that we were educating our students towards a future of jobs that were yet to be created.  It didn't seem to cause much change to a very stable curriculum diet but today it is different.  Change is exponential and at a rate that makes our minds buckle.  That is why I would need the introspective time of which I write and in a context of what I can glean about the futurists' predictions.

In this blog I hope to develop this theme in more depth but at the moment am marshalling my arguments and thoughts.


May the Force be with you!

GD

Monday, 29 April 2019

Waking up

Here I am after a lengthy snooze period.  The schooling of our young is never far from my mind even though I have been retired for many years.

Currently I cannot stop wondering about how well schools are educating for the future.  Of course I also hope each day they are educating in a context of purposefully ensuring student well being. Without this the chance of learning is diminished severely.

Returning to the future.  What has caused me to return to active blogging on this site is some research I have commenced on "what jobs will look like in the future?" It is blowing my mind and I will devote some future posts to this topic in a context of primary (elementary) and secondary schooling.

May the Force be with you all!


GD

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Students turning off from year 4 - part 2

Refer to the previous post on this subject.

I've now seen the actual Report and it provides hard evidence of students becoming disengaged from learning from year 4 onwards. The report is titled "Engagement and Progress in Middle and Upper Primary Years" and can be followed up on the website of the Western Australian Primary Principals Association (WAPPA).

I would like to have seen the research in the Report supported by a sample of case studies of government primary schools from across the vast state of Western Australia.  In these case studies Principals could have been asked what is blocking interventions with middle - upper primary students having difficulty with learning. If it is the lower funding per student then there is a case to lobby those who provide the funds.

Above all I am concerned that politicians (the funding source) tend to blame the teachers and this is unacceptable.  The current federal government Minister for Education falls into this category. The case studies should scotch this by revealing the truth of the struggles that each school community faces to provide interventions that will facilitate the maintenance of student engagement with learning.

May the Force be with you!


GD


Thursday, 14 June 2018

Students turning off from year 5

It was reported in the West Australian newspaper: Hiatt, Bethany, The West Australian, 12 June 2018, p3 that the WA Primary Principals Association (WAPPA) had just released a report "Engagement and Progress in Middle and Upper Primary Years".

Hiatt reports that the Report targets a lower rate of funding for the primary years 4 to 6 as a likely cause of:


  • Primary schools now exhibit higher levels of student violence, antisocial behaviour and mental health issues than in the past;
  • Students' rate of academic progress slowed after year 3;
  • Students' interest in in their learning dropped away from year 5.
The funding rates cited by Haiti from the Report are:

  • Students in years 4-6 are funded at $6779 per year;
  • Students in years preprimary - year 3 are funded at $8135 per year; and
  • High school students are funded at more than $9000 per year.

It was noted by the WAPPA President that after year 3 students tended to move from classes of 24 to 32.

Hiatt offered this quote from the President:

"Our argument is that if we can do more to keep the kids engaged in the primary years, right through to the end of primary school, their achievement and progress will more likely be better, their social , emotional and behaviour issues will be less and we'll have less of a problem starting high school."

The problem was cited as being Australia-wide.

Now I have to say that all this whetted my appetite to see the whole Report and I am chasing this up at the moment, resolving an issue that finds the report difficult to download. I am eager to see the evidence of how funding and slightly higher class sizes are deemed to be the culprits.

I am not sceptical, but am concerned at the quotation included above.  Out of the context of the Report it appears to be somewhat self evident and I am almost certain the President of WAPPA would not have wanted it outed in Hiatt's article.

Watch this space for comments once I have read the Report.

May the Force be with you!


GD






Friday, 8 June 2018

Principals and naughty students

In my part of Australia there has been a lot of recent publicity about students acting up in school and being suspended.  Some of the acting up is violent in the form of physically abusing other students and teachers.  Principals are also suffering abuse from parents some of which is also physical. The problems are reported to be on the increase.  Social media is contributing to this malaise.

At a specific level I was particularly appalled at the creation of student fight clubs, the latest that came to my attention was in a prestigious girls' private school.

As an ex Principal I find this very worrying.  I never experienced this as I guess the period of my career as teacher and Principal found teachers to be held in fairly high regard and the Principal carried a lot of weight with parents and students. Another factor I did not have to manage was social media and all it means to modern youth.  I am not claiming there was no unfortunate behaviour but it was rarely widespread.

When I was a Principal and teacher punishment in schools was still at the level of there being a cane used.  I learned to abhor this and tried to remove it from my school. Many of the teachers objected so I let it be, but ensured that it was rarely used. To my delight corporal punishment was abolished in schools.

If I returned now to Principalship my top priority for having an effective school where students and staff felt safe and respected would be to have a dedicated wellbeing program.  I would not be prepared to sit back and let wellbeing happen.  I would want to work as a whole staff to create a purposeful wellbeing approach inclusive of evaluating how we were going.  As soon as the students were old enough I would involve them in the creation of such a program.  I would also involve the parents.  It's easy for me to say this from the comfort of retirement, but believe me I would do just what I have claimed were I to be back in the fray.

I must hasten to add that part of the wellbeing program would be the use of tough love just as effective parents do.  However nothing we did in such a wellbeing focused school community would be punitive.

On the positive side I am seeing evidence of schools doing just what I have proposed above.  I feel certain that such school communities will reap the rewards of:

Students learning more effectively;
Teachers able to teach positively and with professional satisfaction;
Students becoming more well adjusted individuals;
Parents feeling part of it all and being happy for their student offspring.


May the Force be with you.

GD

Please note that I am not recommending the removal of suspension or other reasonable consequences for poor behaviour in school.  The teachers cannot be left with no recourse to consequential action for recalcitrant students.  They should also expect extreme behavioural cases to be removed from normal class for some remedial treatments.  This not only protects teachers but also allows students to learn in an environment that is not disturbing or worrying.  I have just been reading about a school that has made the decision not to punish with consequences like suspensions and the results have seen the school descend into more than a mild anarchy.

My support for a focused wellbeing program is based on the existence of an effective wellbeing program resulting in less recalcitrant behaviour and thus a reduced need for sanctions like suspension from school.

May the Force be with you!

GD





Wednesday, 18 April 2018

OMG I'm out of retirement

OMG folks I somehow got myself elected as a member of the local independent government primary school board.

I can't resist being involved again.

I am all agog finding out what it means for a Principal of this relatively new beast the independent government school.  I hope that it is not another of those ill-founded changes to the Western Australian government school scene that will fall in a heap 5 or so years down the track.  As a government school Principal I did not experience this independent status but nonetheless felt incredibly free to act in the best interests of the education of the students of my school community.

We'll see.  Must not jump to conclusions.

Its all good fun!

May the Force be with you!


GD