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Saturday, March 5, 2011

My School 2.0

Merrylands East Public School

Merrylands East Public School in western Sydney represents the changing nature of Australian schools with 40 different socio-cultural backgrounds. "We're really pleased with our achievements, especially with the growth of our academic standards," said principal John Goh.

The Federal Labor government's My School 2.0 released yesterday shows that students at NSW's worst performing schools have improved on academic performances after receiving more funding. Almost one quarter of the most disadvantaged schools lifted results in numeracy and literacy in the Naplan test and 150 showed definite improvement.

My School 2.0 exposes funding inequalities for all to see - private schools with plenty of money compared to government, under-resourced public schools. Education experts believe the continued government funding of rich private schools was creating a school resources war and not a genuine competition to see who provided the best education.

But there was nothing about teacher performance. Research has shown that teaching quality is the fundamental reason for lifting school performance and a subject the teacher unions choose to ignore. They continue to attack the whole concept of My School and vehmently deny that schools can actually be compared and differences measured and that teachers should be exonerated from accountability. That's why there's a lack of data on teacher performance. What My School does not address is individual teachers who are not able to lift the standard of their student outcomes and it doesn't reward those teachers who do. This plays into the hands of the unions and is obviously the next step to My School's success.

There's no doubt that the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) has put the cat among the pigeons in Australian schools and given national education a good shake. We hear stories of angry parents going to parent-teacher evenings waving their student NAPLAN results and demanding an explanation. The teachers union movement are hell bent on telling anyone who will listen that My School is a failure and has nothing to do with teaching. But ask any parent, and they will tell you that's a lie and good teachers are worth their weight in gold.

I believe My School is slowly producing better results for Australian children but they need to stand up to the unions and present teacher performance data which will leave the bad teachers with nowhere to hide.