Media release 2 May 2018
Steiner Education Australia (SEA) welcomes the release of Through Growth to Achievement, the report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools led by Mr David Gonski.
SEA Chief Executive Officer Virginia Moller stated that ‘SEA commends the focus on creating a cohesive set of recommendations which involve a shift from academic attainment to a focus on a student’s growth over time. This formative, developmental approach is deeply embedded in Steiner pedagogy’.
SEA also commends the renewed focus on critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. These are all cornerstones of a Steiner education which is conscious in its development of young people for the future. The ACARA recognised Australian Steiner Curriculum fosters development of flexible, imaginative thinking, deep conceptual understandings and student well-being through giving equal time for the academic, creative and practical arts. SEA looks forward to continuing dialogue and collaborative research opportunities with all sectors of education in Australia as we continue to evolve and deepen pedagogical practice.
There are some concerns relating to the review. Firstly, the proposed online assessment tool has potential to monitor student progress within an individualised approach. However, it is important to consider carefully any unintended consequences of the implementation of such a tool. The review supports giving Principals and teachers more agency to ensure creativity and innovation in teaching. It will therefore be important for the online tool, as well as the ‘external quality assurance processes’ to create opportunity, not burden Principals and teachers with yet more compliance and accountability requirements.
Secondly, SEA calls for governments to be more accountable to schools, teachers and students to ensure necessary resources and funding are provided to support achievement of outcomes articulated in the report.
There is also a need to be cautious about launching into yet more reforms without ensuring the government addresses deeper structural conditions which perpetuate the unacceptable links between a young person’s socioeconomic background and levels of achievement. This is what the original Gonski review was about. The latest reform recommendations only treat symptoms if equity issues are not addressed. There will be minimal impact, just as with previous reforms, with teachers and schools continuing to bear the ‘blame’ for poor education outcomes.
Finally, the report places much emphasis and faith in the role of data and evidence of ‘what works’ to drive improvement. It is therefore more important than ever that priority is given to drawing on a wide base of independent educational research to inform teaching and learning practices. The role of university /school partnerships in this collection of evidence is vital. It is also imperative that the degree to which educational approaches such as Steiner, can be developed and researched in order to continually evolve is not restricted, but openly embraced as an integral part of an innovative educational landscape.
SEA’s submission to the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence can be read at www.steinereducation.edu.au/latest-news/review-to-achieve-educational-excellence-in-australian-schools/
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Chief Executive Officer
Steiner Education AustraliaMay 2018