Focusing on the things that work

By Greg Whitby, 13 March 2019


Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

We have a state election at the end of this month and a federal election in May. That means being courted by politicians and what they promise to do for families, communities, the state and the country. As always, the two issues at the top of the list are health and education. Both are very important indicators of Australia’s progress as a nation.

My wish post the March and May elections is that we see new thinking and sustainable policy when it comes to education. That means moving away from what we’ve always done by focusing less on competition and the futile international comparisons with other education systems and more on how we can improve the learning journey of each individual student. That involves dedicating our energy and resources to building teacher expertise.

It also requires creative thinking about how we can deliver more with less funding rather than less with more funding. The time has come for sectors and stakeholders to identify ways in which resources (e.g. facilities) can be shared rather than dividing up the pie and squabbling over who gets the biggest slice.

There is a very deep well of academic research and best practice available for us to draw from if only discussion can be shifted away from the tired debates such as public vs private schools or phonics vs whole language. Our collective focus and efforts must be on ensuring that every child in every school has an exceptional teacher, every day of every year. That is the work of schools and education ministries.

After four decades living through the ‘new government = new educational policy’ cycle, I accept there are no silver bullet solutions and no quick fixes. Improving the learning for each child requires a relentless focus on the things that do work. That requires a long-term commitment to education that must extend well beyond the political cycle, and leaders with the courage to think differently.

Greg Whitby AM
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta


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