Saturday, May 30, 2009

A different model for success for state schools

Permanency has always been a key goal in state schools with teachers falling into permanent positions and then staying in the same school for 7-10 years, perhaps reaching long service leave and seeking a new school.

Stability, one would think, would be a key advantage over the private sector. I would suggest that it is the exact opposite. What tends to happen is that schools in adjacent suburbs function like teachers in classrooms. Many not knowing what is going on in the school/classroom next door.

Another key advantage would be the non competitive nature of schools is of a reasonable distribution of students, with students being part of catchments removing competition between state schools. In the private sector it is counterproductive to assist neighbour schools find talented students as they are potential customers. Yet in state schools we find it is common practice to poach students (and thus lower a school's potential results) either through systemic planning (eg. G&T schools) or through informal discussions with year 7 groups across catchments.

I think that increasing the rotation of teachers in schools within a district would solve this problem. Teachers would be attached to districts rather than schools and key teachers (level 3 CT's perhaps) used as troubleshooters for schools that cannot reach benchmarks. Benchmarks would be created for districts rather than schools. Funding would be linked to performance of the district with underperforming schools being given proven troubleshooters to improve performance (Think similar to the AFL draft!).

This would promote common frameworks to assist teachers with transitions between schools (the new system couldn't work without them). It would also lessen the poaching aspect as we could distribute students freely between schools in the same district knowing common teaching methods were being used and that school based performance was irrelevant.

By being district teachers rather than school staff, needs based movement could be made based on cohort size and specific needs of schools. I imagine this was the original idea of central staffing. To maintain consistency of approach, pastoral, teaching assistants and administration staff would remain school based but would need to agree on baseline standards. Consideration could be made on how HoD's and level 2's are distributed and moved and on what basis. Movement of HoDs and level 2's would give graduate teachers a wider exposure to teaching methods and promote exchange of ideas and resources between our expert teachers. Similar to the movement of principals in the metropolitan area.

It would require a change in mindset from 'development of a school' to 'development of students for a district' - seeking the betterment of the system rather than the betterment of a school. It's a philosophical change of mindset.

I like this idea. I doubt many others would.

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