Reflecting on the big issues

By Greg Whitby, 19 December 2018
Greg Whitby AM is Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta.

 

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

As the end of another school year approaches, I have been reflecting on some of the big issues in education this year. While these may not have an immediate impact on school communities, I am hopeful they will lead to better learning opportunities and outcomes for every child.

Despite the ongoing debates on education funding, there is still a universal agreement that every child is entitled to the same level of basic funding and that those with additional needs should receive extra funding. Australia is a democratic nation that recognises parents as the first educators of their child and the importance of parental choice when it comes to where and how a child is educated.

The rapid population growth in urban areas has put pressure on all sectors (Catholic, independent and government) to provide infrastructure to cater to these demands. This will continue well into the future, which offers us a golden opportunity to think very differently about how we design, construct and run schools for a variety of purposes and well beyond the usual 9.00am to 3.00pm timeslot.

We have never had better resources available for learning and teaching or more qualified and skilled teachers who are across the emerging technologies and role of data in improving learning and teaching. We are about to see a generational change in the teaching profession as senior teachers and leaders retire and younger one enter. It’s critical that policy-makers and politicians spend greater time listening to and learning from teachers, young and not-so-young!.

Next year, we should see the outcomes of the review into the NSW curriculum. Although many reviews have ended up gathering dust on a bookshelf somewhere, I am confident we will see significant changes from this one that mean learning experiences that energise and motivate all students, develop the skills needed for today’s world and provide opportunities for active citizenship in a connected world. As the American educator and philosopher, John Dewey once said, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”

As this is the last Top of the Class for the year, I want to thank all those readers who have taken the time to read and think about the ideas raised in my column, especially those who have provided feedback.

I wish everyone a wonderful and joyful Christmas.

 

Greg Whitby
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta

Greg Whitby is the Executive Director of Schools - Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta
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