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Collective opposition to system-wide setting of school targets
Federation and principal bodies have presented a united front in response to the Department of Education’s imposition of further layers of target-setting, which will add to the workload of teachers in public schools.
In a joint statement, Federation, the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council and NSW Primary Principals’ Association stated the organisations were committed to the ongoing improvement of student outcomes in public schools.
Federation President Maurie Mulheron said the union’s opposition to the Berejiklian Government’s announcement in June, which proposed the notion of four “stretch targets”, was made clear at this year’s Annual Conference.
The Conference decision stated: “This imposed and mandated regime of further testing and target-setting would increase teacher workload and, in fact, take teachers away from their central task of assisting all of the children in their care to meaningfully improve their intellectual capacities.”
The joint statement said: “The attempt to impose system-wide targets without recognising the voice of the teaching profession risks diverting schools and teachers away from their central task of improving student learning outcomes.”
The Department’s proposal sets system-wide targets with “upper and lower bounds” in the four areas of literacy, numeracy, wellbeing and attendance. It intends for the lower bound to represent “achievable improvement”, with the upper bound a “more aspirational, but still achievable” performance increase.
Federation points out that the proposed literacy and numeracy targets use NAPLAN — a discredited assessment that is under a three-state review — as their measures.
“The profession has universally welcomed the current review of NAPLAN,” the statement, signed by Mr Mulheron, Secondary Principals’ Council President Craig Peterson and Primary Principals’ Association President Phil Seymour, said.
“The proposal of linking school progress through data generated from a testing instrument under review is premature, pedagogically unsound and may further narrow the curriculum.”
The joint statement is available here.
Public schools are currently focused on student and school improvement in the areas of literacy, numeracy, wellbeing and attendance, as well as many others. Schools have a multitude of cycles, plans, goals, accountability mechanisms and means of achieving, reviewing and amending these, already in place.
The Department of Education must ensure that funding provided to support student need is transparent, involves the consultation of teachers and is used to create additional permanent positions to support these programs.
Federation is opposed to any reductionist agendas that narrow the curriculum and diminish intellectual standards for students in public education.
“The setting of school-based targets must be locally developed, in consultation with the school community and reflect a range of measures,” the combined statement said. “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”
For Federation’s correspondence to the Department on this matter click here.