Federal election 2019

For too long, approaches to national school education policy promoted by governments, business and industry sectors and ‘policy-preneurs’ have been dominated by deficit-model thinking about schools. The prevailing narrative about Australian school education is that schools (and teachers and students) are ‘failing’ and therefore in urgent need of repair or radical reform. 

Deficit-model narratives about Australian schooling have not only failed to deliver a compelling national vision or mission for Australian education, they have undermined the status of the very profession whose task it must be to realise such a vision or mission.

Thanks to the professional capacity of Australia’s teachers and school leaders, our nation’s schools are already transforming to meet the demands of rapid social and technological change. To support, amplify and accelerate the evolution of Australia’s school education system, and to develop polices to address significant national issues in education, a strengths-based approach to policy development is required.

foundational principles to empower national education policy in Australia

A strengths-based approach to national policy development requires governments to:

Embrace and demonstrate national leadership

Education is too important for policy making to be governed by a three-year election cycle. Bi-partisan policy commitment would help strengthen the continuum of Australia’s education system, from early learning through to tertiary provision.

In the schools sector, bi-partisan cooperation would allow federal and state and territory governments to collaborate to identify, promote and enable a compelling mission for Australian schooling to engage educators and schools as well as students, their families and the wider community.

For more information on AHISA’s recommendations on how governments can build a compelling narrative for reform, see Section A1 of AHISA’s submission to the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools.

 Trust in and respect the professional expertise of educators

Australian educators are already engaged in transforming schools in response to the profound effects of globalisation and rapid social and technological change. To amplify and accelerate this process, policy makers must recognise and support the entrepreneurial capacity of Australian schools. 

Policy makers must also recognise and support the capacity of educators to lead and develop their own profession. 

It is vital that schools' policy making protects the autonomy of school leaders to shape educational provision in a way that meets the specific needs of their school communities.

For more information on AHISA’s recommendation for a national mentoring scheme to amplify and accelerate the professional development of teachers, see Section 2b of AHISA’s submission to the Inquiry into the Status of the Teaching Profession.

For more information on the entrepreneurial and innovative capacities of independent schools, see AHISA’s submission on the 2030 Innovation Strategic Plan.

Value and support diversity in schooling provision

There is tremendous diversity in Australian schools – in size, year level offerings, location, community served, ownership and governance. Given this diversity, and the need to keep all young people engaged in viable learning pathways during their schooling years and beyond, the application of one-size-fits-all solutions to education provision is both inappropriate and inequitable.

For more information on recommendations to address the diverse needs of regional, remote and very remote school communities see AHISA’s submissions to the Review of Regional, Rural and Remote Education, the National Strategy for Regional, Rural and Remote Education and the Review of Australia’s VET System.

For more information on recommendations to assist innovative provision for Indigenous students, see AHISA’s submissions to the Inquiry into Educational Opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students and Close the Gap Refresh.

For more information on AHISA’s recommendation that research be undertaken to assess the impact of the diverse characteristics of schools on principals’ attitudes to and use of NAPLAN data, see AHISA’s submission to the NAPLAN Reporting Review.

AHISA’s submissions to parliamentary inquiries and government-sponsored reviews address a range of important national issues and are posted in the
Advocacy section of AHISA’s website.

Authorised by Beth Blackwood, AHISA Ltd, April 2019