Stories from 2018



The problem with staffing rural schools


Edited version of Pursuit article by Associate Professor Hernan Cuervo and Dr Daniela Acquaro


Attracting new teachers to country schools remains one of the biggest challenges in Australian education.

Encouraging student teachers to complete placements in rural schools as a way to address the chronic shortage of teachers in the bush isn’t working.

Our recent study found that, while pre-service teachers were keen to have a ‘rural’ experience, the reality of isolation and limited school resources makes teaching in these schools unattractive; particularly for students from metropolitan backgrounds.

Attracting and retaining teachers in rural schools has been a problem for decades. The recently released Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education calls it “one of the most persistent challenges on the ‘education agenda’”.


How Australia got so many law schools

Edited version of Pursuit article by Dr Gwilym Croucher and Dr Peter Woelert


Australia’s large number of law schools is a product of higher education policy change in the 1980s, but has it limited opportunities for growth?

Over the last three decades law has become a popular study choice in Australia, with the Council of Australian Law Deans saying around 7500 law students graduate annually (although some argue the figure is double that, at 15000).

A recent count of Australia’s legal profession estimated 66,000 solicitors overall, making it too small a sector to absorb all these new graduates each year and leading many people, including the Prime Minister, to comment that a number of them would be better off studying another degree.

But this controversy is not new and the Australian law schools have argued that fears of unemployed graduates and wasted study are overblown.


Whatever happened to Gonski 2.0?

Edited version of Pursuit article by Enterprise Professor Maxine McKew, Dr Jim Watterston and Mark Scott


While needs-based schools funding according to the principles set out in the first Gonski report remains a hot topic, as we’ve seen recently in the Super Saturday by-elections, there has been much less public discussion about its successor.

Gonski 2.0 or to use its full title, Through Growth to Achievement, was released in May this year, and it’s a report that looks at where we need to focus our efforts and investment in education.

Targeted teaching (which is tailored to individual students’ needs rather than directed to the whole class), diagnostic assessment (where students are assessed to determine what stage of learning they are at, and what they are ready to learn next), and learning progressions (where students’ individual progress is measured, rather than their attainment against ‘set’ objectives), all feature in the report.


New South Wales, the largest employer of teachers in Australia, was first out of the blocks in responding to the document favourably and has embarked on a complete review of its Kindergarten – Year 12 curriculum.

Others, including many within the profession itself, seem underwhelmed and say Gonski 2.0 merely re-states much of what is already known.

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Finding what really works in education

Edited version of Pursuit article by Laureate Professor John Hattie and Dr Arran Hamilton


Using data and reason, rather than intuition, to decide where to invest the large sums spent globally on education, would make a huge difference to the learning outcomes of many students.

Around US $3.5 trillion is spent on education globally every year.

To put it in perspective, this expenditure is greater than the combined economic activity of Russia and India.

Globally, we spend a lot on education. And rightly so.

Most of this funding is for fixed and reoccurring costs that cannot be adjusted without great care and without expending high levels of political capital.But an estimated four per cent of global education budgets is available for procuring education products and resources for use in the classroom and for in-service teacher professional learning.

If this is spent wisely and if, over time, there is also greater clarity of thought about how the other 96 per cent is spent, then, locally and globally, we would expect to see remarkable things happening in education.


The next generation of Australian schools

Edited version of Pursuit article by Associate Professor Kristine Elliot


With hundreds of new schools needed in Victoria in the coming decade, how will they meet future student and community needs?

Australia will need an estimated 400 to 750 new schools to accommodate 650,000 additional students within the next decade, costing state governments up to A$11 billion, according to the Grattan Institute.

In Victoria, as many as 200 new schools are projected to be needed in this timeframe.

These new schools present an exciting opportunity to deliver buildings that support the way education happens in the 21st century, and better serve the broader community.


WA primary schools impose no homework

Originally published on Radio 2GB featuring Glenn Savage

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A quiet revolution is unfolding in some WA primary school classrooms, as principals move to put a blanket ban on homework.

Official “no homework policies” are in place at four schools in the western state. Though a sharp break with the education status quo, teachers say the time is better spent with family or in recreational activities.

But education policy expert Glenn Savage says ditching homework altogether is a step too far. As long as the work set is relevant and a reinforcing mechanism of the classroom curriculum, homework should not be circumscribed into extinction.

It is superfluous homework that needs to be weeded out. Not homework altogether, he says.