Monday, November 20, 2017

Old School / New School: Transforming Australia's Education System

As well as being a teacher and educational researcher, I have also been involved in the business community (in my spare time!) for over 20 years. In the first instance, this was to try to connect university researchers with business and industry. However, I am now the President of one of Australia's leading business organisations, the New South Wales Business Chamber (NSWBC). My background in education has recently aligned strongly with a key initiative of the Chamber to bring together varied interest groups to consider reform in school education.

As President of this organisation, I was involved in the launch today of a bold initiative that seeks to help unite teachers, parents, educational authorities, researchers and government to reform school education. We feel strongly about this, because we live in a world that is changing rapidly, and know that education is critical as we face these changes. New forms of employment are emerging, and once common occupations are disappearing. As well, technology is disrupting every area of life creating challenges to our previous understanding of the nature of work. Some jobs will disappear completely as artificial intelligence enables computers and robots to take over occupations and change others. Our changing world requires innovation in the education of our children. Our report draws on varied parties and was launched today in Sydney. It is titled 'Old School / New School' and can be downloaded HERE.

The report is the beginning or our efforts to engage many in conversation as we face a transforming world. We believe that we need to:
  • Take the very best of our 'Old School' system that has served us well for many decades and combine it with new world thinking to help the next wave of young people take their place in the world.
  • The way young people learn is changing, and new ways of teaching are emerging.
  • We want to take the very best of our Old School system and combine it with new world thinking to help the next wave of young people flourish.
  • For key policy makers, this requires them to find better ways to support teachers, principals and industry to create the right spaces, choices and career opportunities for the next generation of young people.
  • For the business community, this is about creating workplaces that foster innovation and life-long learning.
  • For our dedicated teachers, this is about helping educators grow their professional skills, share their knowledge and demonstrate what is possible for our schools.
  • For young people, this is about having their voices heard and sharing what they need to move into work, further study and adult life.
Other speakers at the launch today included our CEO Stephen Cartwright, Eddie Woo a well-known maths teacher and YouTube star (WooTube), Julie Sonnemann (Grattan Institute) and the Minister of Education Rob Stokes.

The report argues that this is a shared responsibility at three levels:

Architects - establish education policy, curriculum frameworks and assessment frameworks. They include education authorities, education councils and authorities, employers and business associations.

Builders - deliver learning experiences and develop learners. They include teachers, parents, principals, parent and community groups, professional associations, universities.

Clients - are the end users of the education system. These include students, families, employers, and universities.

The report sets out 6 ideas to start building a new school system as discussions starters:
  • Pilot proven teaching and learning approaches across multiple schools at once.
  • Publish data tracking student progress and outcomes post school.
  • Revamp the HSC to set all students on the right pathway to work.
  • Recognise teachers and support their development through professional learning hubs.
  • Ensure every child in every school has support services they need to learn and thrive, including careers advice and mentoring for high risk students.
  • Integrate and measure enterprise skills from Year 9 on.


The NSW Business Chamber is also seeking your ideas. We want your varied perspectives, key ideas, insights and feedback so that, together, we can build the New School system of the future. I want to encourage you to go online, visit our site and become part of this initiative. The purpose is NOT for business to try to tell schools and educators what needs to be done. Rather, we want to open up dialogue between all key stakeholders for the benefit of our students, teachers and the educational future of our nation.

Please visit our Old School / New School and become part of this collaboration. 

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