Future of Education consultation

Since February this year, the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development and the Education Directorate have been talking to the Canberra community about what you want for the future of schools and education in the ACT. Coralie McAlister, from the Directorate, reports on progress.

The Future of Education conversation explores how the education system can ensure every child in the ACT can access the education that will make them the best they can be.

This conversation is broad, seeking voices not normally engaged in discussions about education and includes the lived experiences of students and teachers and the community.

So far we have heard from over 2,500 people across school communities, community organisations and the broader community.

Themes have started to emerge and we now invite you to help us dig a bit deeper by telling us anything that might be missing or anything that is particularly important.

We encourage you to continue to share your ideas, and ask that you encourage your family, friends and colleagues to join the conversation too.

Head online for a full summary of themes and to provide your feedback.

Quote 1

Learning for the future

Many of you told us that students need to be learning the skills that will be necessary in the workplaces of tomorrow. Many academics predict that it will become less important for students to learn content or knowledge, and more important for them to develop the skills to acquire and interpret knowledge.

Transitions

Starting and changing school can be a challenging and exciting time for students and families, who need to adjust to new roles, identities, expectations and relationships. We’ve heard that the community would like more support and programs for students to help ease their transitions (including between schools and from college into work, training or university).

Individualised learning

Many of you want our school system to allow students to learn in a way that is centred on their individual skills and interests so that they develop a love of learning. Many teachers and students told us that they would like more individualised and tailored learning options, including more extended classes for gifted students and more support for students who are struggling.

(In)consistency between schools

We have received feedback about the differences between schools across a number of areas, including what is taught, how each school links with the community and how each school uses data. Feedback has noted the importance of being able to personalise practice to reflect community needs, while also raising questions about whether there are enough frameworks in place to support consistent practice across all schools.

Opportunities and pathways for all

You have told us that we need a broader range of programs to meet the diverse needs and desires of our students, particularly those in the ‘margins’ or who are falling behind. You also told us that we need to focus less on university or academia as the pathway after school and to acknowledge different pathways young people take.

Quote 2

Wellbeing and life skills

Feedback has clearly told us that as well as academic skills, you want students to be learning skills around emotional and social wellbeing. This aligns with the research which has shown very strong links between emotional wellbeing and academic performance.

What we should be measuring and evaluating

The feedback clearly shows that parents’ highest priority is that their children are happy, engaged and learning how to learn. Many respondents questioned what assessment data currently tells us and expressed a view that it does not identify the full range of individual students’ progress.

Quote 3

Collaboration and support to meet student need

A lot of feedback discussed the need for a whole of community approach to meeting the complex range of needs of our students and families. You’ve mentioned a need for stronger partnerships with and between ACT Government services as well as between schools and community organisations.

Valuing educators

We received overwhelmingly positive comments about our teachers. Many also mentioned the need for ongoing support for teachers, including professional development, collaboration, and training about how to understand and work with complex behaviours.

What is Inclusion?

You’ve said to us that diversity in the student population should be seen as the norm, and as a strength rather than being looked at through a lens of deficit. An opportunity exists to clearly articulate what is meant by successful inclusion within learning environments. ●

Editor’s note: Council will be providing a major submission to the Future of Education consultation based on input from parents, carers and P&Cs. Our Future of Education Forum last Term attracted a good number of parents who had a lively discussion and highlighted important issues. This will form the basis of our submission, along with other comments provided to Council. If you have ideas or comments to contribute please forward them to our Policy Officer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

This article appeared in ParentACTion Magazine, Term 4, 2017.