Is the most critical educational resource consultation?

September 22nd 2017

Sometimes it seems like all the people involved in education in schools are factors of little consequence in the larger scheme of educational and financial policy. Whether you are a parent, an educator, a student, an educational executive, the educational realm you are involved in can get turned upside down by a resolution of a Parliament, the signature of a Minister, the lobbying of a department or even the outcry of media in the blink of an eye.  

Often what appears a simple change on the surface is complex and complicated. School environments have had some fasten your seatbelt moments over the years because of these simple ideas.Take the changes to the school leaving age, accessing higher education certificates, school rankings or selling offpublic school land. These changes appear to speak to progress, breaking failing models and bringing about cultural change but, what about the ramifications that occur because of those simplistic and somewhat bold acts? 

Where do the teachers get sourced from who are needed to keep students engaged at school for longer?  How are alternative pathways for learners supported when vocational educational and training options are privatised and operating on result driven business models? And how are students who require learning support able fit in if they want to obtain a Higher School Certificate? Is extra funding for these critical people fully allocated into the educational budget when reforms like increasing the leaving ageare declared? A good idea is fine and well but, it only becomes a great plan and a great idea when it works and, it only works when the proper dues are paid to thorough consideration. You know, an examination of all factors that will be impacted, particularly the effect of the simple idea on the learner and educator.  

It could be said that most of the reforms that have happened in education over the years have been very similar by way of being well-intentioned but, lacking in providing on the promise. Remember the incredible Digital Education Revolution (DER)? This national program was going to get kids plugged in and using technology as a natural part of their everyday academic learning. Ten years later we still witness kids having “computer” lessons, not being trusted to access appropriate on-line content and worse yet, laptops being held hostage at school and not being allowed to be taken home. The DER was a wonderful concept but all in all, brilliant school communities aside most experiences with the DER device have turned into nothing more than a glorified word processor with the odd bit of PowerPoint thrown in to demonstrate “technology learning”. Harsh? Perhaps, butthere is a lot of failure laying around educational settings where there should have only beensuccess.  

So how does it all go so wrong? Governments have thrown millions of dollars at trying to improve educational outcomes for students. People have looked at best practice and research has been undertaken to ensure a learner’s education is “futureproof” in the ever-changing global employment markets. The key to failure, or lack of success for the majority of educational school communities may just lie in the obvious. An absence by the decision makers in understanding how a good “simple” decision can impact the very people who are involved in education daily.  

Those in the little orbs of bureaucracy would describe this gap in knowledge as “a lack of consultation with key stakeholder groups”. Jargon that has been around for many, many moons. Words that go in and out of fashion almost as often as Politicians change seats, portfolios and citizenship?! But seriously, cheap shots aside, the people on the ground in school communities would be able to highlight the flaws, and benefits of those simple ideas in a just way before they were implemented. When did educational communities get dropped out of the loop? More importantly, how do we activate educators, students and parents to become that essential voice of reason for the decision makers? Let’s face it, if you are in any way connected to a school and you find out information that directly relates to that school via the media, a Ministerial announcement or a two-line statement by the Principal in a newsletter you KNOW you need to be more involved in what is happening in that school environment and have a say. 

And this voice that you need to raise is not because you want to be difficult, not because you have nothing better to do than add to your workload and not because you are politically motivated. No, this voice needs to be heard because those “complexities” that tend to get overlooked in the bigger scheme of things usually have names. Names like; Nadine, Jackson, Olivia, Liam, Aimee, Lucas Henry, Sophie, Ben, Fabio, Janaya and Isabella….. and the roll call could continue. Could you think of a better reason to step up and insist on being consulted with? We at Family Focus Consultancy can’t think of a more worthwhile reason to get motivated and get heard. Education, it really can be a life changer, simple as that.