A few months ago, I made a submission to the Inquiry by the Productivity Commission into the National School Reform Agreement. The Commission has just released its Interim Report, and has invited further submissions. I won’t be bothering.
Perhaps somewhere in its 250 pages the Interim Report contains a significant and worthwhile observation or recommendation. People are welcome to hunt through the motherhooded woods of “wellbeing” and “quality”. I couldn’t find a single hint that the PC has the slightest clue what is wrong with the Australian education system, or what it would take to fix it.
My submission was focussed and minor. I had argued that the PC, via the National Measurement Framework, was wrongly focussing on “numeracy”, to the exclusion of arithmetic and mathematics. I had also argued that this wrong focus indicated that the PC was listening to less-than-expert experts, and that the PC should get out more, meet some new people. Of course, my submission was ignored entirely. The IR contains recommendations for the National Measurement Framework, but nothing that acknowledges the fundamental wrongness in the measurements being made.
Others are also commenting on the IR, of course. Jenny Gore, the professor-master of some inquiry-based nonsense called Quality Teaching Rounds, has applauded the IR for promoting some inquiry-based nonsense called Quality Teaching Rounds. Greg Ashman has ripped into Gore’s nonsense.
Elsewhere, Alan Tudge has written clearly and well, advocating three fundamental changes (Murdoch, paywalled). In brief, we should give the teachers something to teach (fix the curriculum), ensure teachers teach it (emphasise direct instruction), and ensure students learn it (instil a classroom culture of attention). I do not see any sense of Tudge’s good and obvious recommendations in the Interim Report. I do not see any sense in the Interim Report whatsoever.