From The Principal – Gonski Report

What is the Gonski report?

The Report Through Growth to Achievement addresses reform in our national education system to improve student outcomes based on National and International evidence. The report has identified recommendations to be negotiated between the federal government and all states and territories and has implications for government, independent and Catholic schools.

What are the key areas of reform?

1. Laying the foundations for learning (in early years)
2. Equipping every student to grow and succeed in a changing world
3. Creating, supporting and valuing a profession of expert educators
4. Empowering and supporting school leaders
5. Raising and achieving aspirations through innovation and continuous improvement.

What are the implications for Santa Maria College?

Given we have recently released our Strategic Plan 2018-2020, it is interesting to note that many of our focus areas are raised in the report and are areas we have already identified as priority areas. There are three areas from this report currently addressed in our Strategic Plan.

One of the biggest positives seen in the report is the “potential for personalisation and differentiated opportunities” to enable students to learn at the pace and through practices that best suit individual needs. This is reflected in the statement from our Strategic Plan, “To Implement strategies, including the use of technology, to develop independent, differentiated learning opportunities, to cater for student diversity.”

The report also recommends “school-community engagement to enrich student learning through the establishment of mechanisms to facilitate quality partnerships between schools, employers, members of the community, community organisations and tertiary institutions.” Our Strategic Plan states we will endeavour to, “Build partnerships with other educational institutions, business and community.” Building this partnership has already commenced through the relocation and development of our Careers Centre and through the opportunities they are providing for our students to make links with the community. We have also taken this recommendation a step further through our Parent Engagement Project, focusing on engaging parents to enrich student learning.

Our focus at the College on student self-reflection and feedback from staff, along with opportunities for students to give input via student surveys is seen as a priority in the Gonski Report when it states the vision to “enhance the opportunities available to students within schools to be partners in their own learning. Schools should encourage students to have a voice, to give feedback and to be involved in making decisions about their education.”

What parts of Gonski are we already focusing on?

Other key areas stated in the Gonski Report which are already a focus at the College include
• Prioritising literacy and numeracy
• Promoting critical and creative thinking and social capability
• Promoting Parent Engagement
• Providing induction practices for graduate teachers to move to proficient based on the Australian Standards
• Providing opportunities for mentoring, peer observations and feedback from staff and students to promote teacher development

What areas of Gonski are growth areas for the College?

The report also promotes “learning progressions,” where student progress according to ability and progress determines placement in programs independent of age. This is a wonderful concept which is much easier to timetable in smaller primary schools but more challenging in a larger secondary setting.

Other areas of the report include a focus on reporting on student growth and attainment, review the Years 11 and 12 Curriculum and providing career pathways for teachers.

There will be much debate, consultation and review before many of the recommendations are agreed to and implemented Australia wide but it is reassuring to see that our Strategic Plan sees us well placed should all of these recommendations become requirements.

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