Public forum to debate My School, NAPLAN and new curriculum

21 April 2010

Deakin University is hosting a public forum to enable people to share their views on the raft of initiatives – My School, NAPLAN, a new national curriculum – the Federal Government is introducing to education in Australia.

The My School? Whose School? What’s on the table for public education in Australia? forum will be hosted by Deakin’s School of Education and Centre for Research in Educational Futures and Innovation on Friday 7 May and Saturday 8 May at the University’s Melbourne Campus at Burwood.

The forum is open to the public and will feature a wide range of viewpoints. People can attend in person or participate online.

The Head of Deakin’s School of Education, Professor Diane Mayer, said the forum was an opportunity for people to productively discuss the issues at hand.

“The School of Education is committed to providing a space for people to express their views and to engage in an informed debate about the Federal Government’s reforms and hosting this forum is part of that commitment.”

Professor Brenton Doecke, Chair in Education at Deakin, said concerns about education in Australia had been growing.

“For some time, many people in schools, universities and the community have been voicing concerns over the role of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) testing, the profile given to NAPLAN test results through the My School web site and the level of consultation around the new national curriculum,” Professor Doecke said.

“The Federal Government’s educational reforms will undoubtedly have a long-lasting effect on the education of young people in Australia. I believe it is in the interests of democracy for such reforms to be debated vigorously.

“I think many people are concerned that the confrontational approach we have seen recently is not sustainable and that effective school reform requires genuine dialogue between all parties.”

Professor Doecke said questions had also been raised about the effectiveness of the recent consultations around the national curriculum.

“There are reservations about the consultation process that the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has initiated. Ticking boxes on a web site in response to a list of discrete items is no substitute for informed debate about the merits of these reforms,” he said.

The Director of Deakin’s Centre for Research in Educational Futures and Innovation, Professor Jill Blackmore, said the forum would be an opportunity to examine the implications of the current wave of reforms.

“This forum is seeking to widen the debate to include the multiple stakeholders — teachers, principals, students, parents and researchers— as well as education authorities in what now is a national agenda of reform in education that includes NAPLAN, My School and the national curriculum.

“We need to ask whether the form of accountability gained through transparency about outcomes, common curriculum content and standardised assessment is likely to improve student learning, particularly in those schools and for those students in disadvantaged communities.”

A keynote address by well-known curriculum authority Professor Alan Reid from the University of South Australia will open the forum on the evening of Friday 7 May.

On Saturday there will be panels and workshops, with representatives from several key organisations, including the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, the Catholic Education Office and the Australian Education Union. Students, teachers and parents/carers will also be represented.

The key messages from the forum will be compiled by organisers and submitted to ACARA as part of the consultation process for the new national curriculum, which closes on 23 May.

For more information about the forum and to register please visit: Organisers are asking people to register their interest in participating by 30 April.

News facts
  • Education forum to provide a space for informed debate
  • Wide range of viewpoints to be represented
  • Opportunity to examine implications of current reforms

Media contact

Vanessa Barber
Deakin Media Relations
03 5227 1301; 0488 292 644

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21st April 2010