The Gonski 2.0 Review Report “Through Growth to Achievement” paints a clear direction around three priority areas —
· a focus on student growth and progression,
· learning that is broader than just literacy and numeracy, and
· an education system that is capable of delivering these.
The underlying aspirations are undoubtedly shared by most if not all education systems, so what are the essential differences in what is being proposed?
Implicit in the recommendations is a focus on a whole of system shift rather than fragmented approaches, one that supports individualised rather than industrialised learning, and one in which the roles of the teaching and school leadership professions are more highly respected.
Interestingly, many of the recommendations mirror and embrace recent thinking and strategies in Indigenous education, especially in relation to high quality early learning, seamless transitions, engaging parents and carers in their children’s learning and enabling students to be partners in their own learning. There is much that can be learnt from what is considered to be important in Indigenous education.
The Report sets out ‘why’ change is needed and details ‘what’ the change should be, the challenge will now be in the ‘how’. For example—
· The first priority of delivering one year of growth should not be thought of in just the traditional attainment terms (eg. NAPLAN or PISA) but needs to incorporate the creativity, connectedness and engagement aspirations of priority two.
· The development of an online and on-demand student learning assessment tool will need careful design to encompass this definition of growth, as well as the acknowledged limitations of other continuous assessment approaches, such as in authentication of students' work and disproportionate student and teacher workloads.
· Community-school engagement needs to be extended to industry-school engagement, if the experiences of high performing countries in education are any guide, particularly if there is to be a strong culture of innovation.
· Also, the status and respect of school teachers and leaders is a function of much more than remuneration, it is closely related to societal attitudes and expectations, commencing with parents and flowing through to communities and employers about the impact that education can have on life outcomes.
Overall, Gonski 2.0 lays out an ambitious agenda, one that is a national call to action which, if pursued with appropriate resolve, collaboration, and support, can invigorate classrooms and students to reach their potential.