By Helen Carmody, Principal
The Federal Government recently handed down the budget which proposes a spend of $17.665 billion for schools and school education. This has sparked criticism by those who argue that ‘throwing money’ at schools is not going to make a difference to student outcomes.
This is because large increases in expenditure on education have already occurred in Australia, yet overall student performance has fallen. “Success in high-performing systems is not always the result of spending more money,” claims Ben Jensen from the Grattan Institute.
So this begs the question – What IS going to make the difference?
A 2014 Grattan Institute report looked into this exact question by tracking four schools that underwent a transformational process to achieve remarkable results.
The schools focused on five key areas of change: “strong leadership that raises expectations; effective teaching with teachers learning from each other; development and measurement of student learning; a positive school culture; and engagement of parents and the community.” (Jensen, 2014)
However, the most critical element of their transformation process was the fact that it will never be finished. This is where the notion of the transformative school is born. “A commitment to continually change behaviour and practices in the school and classroom is a marked change from many Australian policies to date,” (Jensen, 2014) It requires behavioural and cultural change, and challenges schools to reinvent themselves to become agile, innovative and responsive. Change is no longer measured on single factors but on the School’s relevance to the needs of society.
While Korowa retains an exceptional record of student achievement, we cannot afford to be complacent. The sustainability of our School lies within the practises of being transformative so that we can remain a great school well into the future.
As we prepare to shape the next phase of Korowa’s Strategic Plan, we focus on creating a vision that is uncompromising but inherently adaptable to change. We must constantly be reevaluating ourselves against our vision so that we remain on track while also discovering new ways to excel.
One of the most poignant findings from the Grattan Institute’s report is that, “These schools disprove the widespread view that turning around a school only happens with superhuman leaders and teachers”. It occurs as a collaborative effort at every level of the School from leadership to parents, staff and students.
This is why I have been engaging all of our community groups in Collaborative Planning Workshops to ascertain what our collective vision is for the future of Korowa. How will Korowa look in five years, ten or twenty years? I call it ‘re-imagining Korowa’.
Thus far, the discussions have been incredibly productive and positive. I very much look forward to sharing these insights with you in the near future.
We held our first Parent Collaborative Planning Workshop in April and I would like to thank all of those who participated. I will be holding another parent workshop on Monday 16 May, 7.00 - 8.00pm so please join me for this session if you did not attend the first workshop.
The sessions will be held in the Dickson Room on the ground level of the Cripps Centre. Registration is essential. Please register online at: www.trybooking.com/LDEI
Jensen, B. 2014. ‘Turning around schools: it can be done.’ Grattan Institute. http://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/129_report_learning_from_the_best_main.pdf