SECTION 3: SCHOOLS
PREMISE 3.I.A (a)
The key to the continuing development of our public system of education is well educated, highly motivated, professional teaching staff, supported by a sympathetic education authority and working in close co-operation with the community. Teachers should be endowed with the following personal attributes: the ability to communicate a high level of knowledge and skill; imagination, enthusiasm, tolerance, judgment, sensitivity, perception and individuality; and an awareness of people, of nature and of the dignity of those whom they teach. It is self-evident, therefore, that teachers should be qualified for the work they do and sufficient in number to allow for effective school organisation, including remedial teaching, student welfare programs, career advice and appropriate programs for students with special needs. The selection of potential teachers and their training and development are of the utmost importance since the quality of schools is positively and significantly related to the quality of their teachers.
PREMISE 3.I.A (b)
Children must be encouraged to accept responsibility for their own learning. If this educational philosophy is adopted it follows that urgent attention should be given to reducing class sizes, particularly in lower grades. The early years of schooling form an all-important period crucial for the development of a healthy self-concept and a pleasurable desire for learning. It is also a period when individual differences should be recognised and catered for as indeed they should be throughout the school years. Allowances should be made for smaller classes or individual attention when this is educationally advisable.
B: SELECTION OF STAFF
Parents, through their representatives, should play an active role in setting general staffing policies for their schools and in establishing the criteria for selecting staff to fill particular vacancies as they occur. Parent representatives should also play an appropriate role in selecting staff to fill such vacancies.
C: PRE-SERVICE TEACHER TRAINING
Methods of recruitment, selection and education for the teaching profession should take into account personal qualities as well as academic ability. If the desired high professional standard is to be attained and maintained teaching must be given the highest possible recognition by governments and the community.
D: STAFF DEVELOPMENT AND INSERVICE TRAINING
Staff development programs should be an integral part of the life of every school. A mutually agreed form of performance appraisal should be instituted with the primary aim of determining needs for assistance in the professional growth of individual teachers.
E. SECONDARY SCHOOL STAFFING
Staffing of secondary schools should take into account the need to provide a wide range of subjects to allow adequate choice for students in all schools.
F: CENTRAL SCHOOL STAFFING
Special attention should be paid to central schools to eliminate the discriminatory formulae with regard to staffing, funding and ancillary services that presently exist. Central schools should receive Executive and support staff that would be appropriate if their primary and secondary components were separately administered.
G: SCHOOL PRINCIPALS
Parent bodies in schools have the right to participate in the choice of new Principals and to receive regular, detailed reports from Principals covering all aspects of the operation of their schools.
Principals play a vital role in schools and hence their leadership and management of the school is a key to the student and school outcomes.
Review and evaluation of the Principal’s performance should be undertaken on a regular basis to maintain high levels of student and school performance.
H: ANCILLARY STAFF
The DET must ensure that adequate ancillary staff are provided to schools, as well as support services, to enable teachers to perform their professional roles to the students’ greatest benefit. Ancillary staff should be qualified and properly trained before appointment.
A: SITES AND BUILDINGS
PREMISE 3.II.A (a)
To fulfil a major part of the needs of education it is essential to have well designed and maintained buildings on suitable and adequate sites providing sufficient classroom accommodation, modern equipment, specialist rooms, amenities and facilities of the highest standard. The DET, in conjunction with the Department of Planning, must ensure that adequate areas of suitable land for educational purposes are reserved in the plans for every Shire and Municipality, particularly in new residential subdivisions. The area reserved should be large enough to include one full oval and two football ovals, as well as the normal playground areas.
PREMISE 3.II.A (b)
The responsibility for establishing the basic philosophy of a particular school must be devolved to a local committee which includes a representative from the school’s P&C Association and has access to private or Government professional planning advice to formulate the educational specifications for the school. Facilities should be established in each Regional Office to allow all future building of new schools and renovations and extensions to existing schools to be designed locally by Officers familiar with individual school and community needs working in consultation with the local communities.
PREMISE 3.II.A (c)
So as to protect the well-being of children using educational facilities, the state government should legislate to require Local Government Authorities to zone the areas surrounding schools in such a way as to exclude any future development which will, or has the potential to, adversely affect the education, welfare or safety of students attending such schools.
Since school buildings and facilities are a considerable investment of public funds, planned preventative maintenance by the DET is essential to protect this investment. Realistic funding provisions must be made for maintenance, replacement and upgrading of all government schools and this is totally the responsibility of the DET.
C: FIRE AND GENERAL SAFETY
Principals, teachers, students, parents and all others connected with government schools should be keenly aware of fire and other safety issues, should work to make the school environment as safe as possible, and should be aware of procedures in the event of an emergency.
D: COMMUNITY USE OF SCHOOL FACILITIES
Schools are community resources and should be made available to the community in ways which are not detrimental to the normal functioning of the school, providing safeguards relating to fire, security, cleaning and insurance are in place.
E: EQUIPMENT AND TEXTBOOKS
In order to give full meaning to equality of educational opportunity, to safeguard the physical and mental welfare of students, and for the complete education of children in government schools, the provision, maintenance and security of furnishings, equipment, stationery and associated services of the highest standard are essential.
First-class, well planned, well stocked and well staffed libraries are essential in infants, primary and secondary schools if children are to develop positive attitudes to methods of learning which will meet their present and future needs. Such libraries should be established and maintained from public funds, should be of a satisfactory standard and should be available for use at times convenient for their users. Modern concepts of the library as a learning resources centre providing information in many formats should be the basis of school library management, planning and future development.
Free transport should be provided for all government school students to their nearest, accessible and appropriate government school and, whilst enrolled at school, include transport to VET, TAFE and training facilities as required. The safety of children going to and from school is of paramount importance and shall be afforded the highest priority in any town or transport planning.
III. Curriculum & Assessment
A: GENERAL CURRICULUM ISSUES
The curriculum of a school is the totality of experiences of a student in that school. The development of each individual student should be the basic concern in determining school organisation, learning experiences and evaluation methods. Tertiary selection needs must not dominate secondary schools’ curricula, nor secondary selection needs dominate primary curricula. Steps must be taken to ensure that there is progressive development from Kindergarten to Year 12 and a wide variety of courses of study should be available to schools at both primary and secondary levels. Co-education should be encouraged at all levels without discrimination in respect of the curriculum.
B: COMPUTER EDUCATION
Computer awareness is the right of every student within the government school system.
C: CAREERS AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY
Education must include Careers Education so that students leave school with dignity to achieve their own vocational choice and their own level of economic independence. Vocational education should enhance self-esteem, confidence in the ability to achieve, and broad competencies, rather than being training to fit into specific jobs, and have sufficient involvement in a range of actual or simulated career experiences to enable students to confidently choose their first career. Careers and vocational education should contribute to giving students an understanding of such things as the social and political dimensions of the world of work, paid and unpaid, and an appreciation of different views of the relations between work, leisure and life, as well as an understanding of what the different kinds of jobs are like.
D: PHYSICAL EDUCATION, SPORT AND RECREATION
Physical education should be an integral part of schooling and should be seen as a continuing process of education in, about, and through the physical. Physical education in schools is accomplished by the teaching and learning of physical activity, which includes fitness, skills, movement, dance, recreation, aquatics, athletics, gymnastics, games and sport. Sport and competitive team games are only one means of achieving physical education. Sports education is part of physical education, to do with the pedagogy (teaching and learning) of sports skills and physical competencies. Becoming physically educated is more than that. It is a growing awareness of one’s physical self, the body and its capabilities, as well as the cultural significance of organised physical activity in Australia and the world. Physical education should be part of the key learning area Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PD/H/PE) and sport education and school sport should be important subsets within that part of the curriculum. Health outcomes and elite performance are recognised dimensions of physical education, but they are not its primary concern, which is the educational outcome of participation in organised physical activity.
Literacy is of major importance in each child’s education. It is a prerequisite for effective participation in society, full personal development and ongoing access to our cultural heritage.
All children are entitled to the learning experiences, intervention programs and support services which will enable them to achieve a standard of literacy which will enable them to function actively and effectively within our society. Parents play an important role in literacy learning and it is essential that they receive appropriate support in providing an environment that will promote literacy learning. Schools and other agencies can assist parents to provide this environment. However, the responsibility for literacy acquisition lies with the school. It is the obligation of governments to ensure that schools can carry out this responsibility.
Numeracy is of major importance in each child’s education. It is a prerequisite for effective participation in society and full personal development.
All children are entitled to learning experiences, intervention programs and support services to achieve a standard of numeracy which will enable them to function actively and effectively within our society. Parents play an important role in numeracy learning and it is essential that they receive appropriate support in providing an environment that will promote numeracy learning. Schools and other agencies can assist parents to provide this environment. However, the responsibility for numeracy acquisition lies with the school. It is the obligation of governments to ensure that schools can carry out this responsibility.
G: ENVIRONMENT EDUCATION
Environmental education includes learning to view any situation as a whole. Student, parents and teachers should build a coherent understanding of the world. The interests of different species, whether animal or plant, are integrated. The curriculum for every student must show students how facts, skills and attitudes come together to inform their actions.
H: MUSIC EDUCATION
Federation recognises the importance and value of children learning music as an integral part of their education, as well as the positive links between the wellbeing of youth and their appreciation and active participation in music activities. Exposure to good music in the early years has been demonstrated to improve the development of neural pathways in the brain, and to enhance higher order thinking skills. Music adds to the totality of the school experience of each student, and should be evident across all subjects from Kindergarten to Year 12.
I: OTHER SPECIFIC SUBJECT AREAS
PREMISE 3.III.I (a)
Well prepared programs on personal relationships acceptable to the school community should be instituted in each school and should be carried out by specially trained teachers.
PREMISE 3.III.I (b)
All children should be encouraged to speak another language other than English. In Europe many people speak 3 or 4 languages. If Australia wants to compete academically and economically with the rest of the world we need to develop more cultural understanding of people from other countries. Language learning is the most effective way to learn about another culture and be accepted by its people.
Assessment is for the purpose of evaluating an individual student’s progress. It is essentially to provide information shared by teacher, student and parents and therefore should be non-competitive. Furthermore, evaluation of individual student progress should take place at the local school level.
K: HIGHER SCHOOL CERTIFICATE
The final years of high school are years in which students should be encouraged to develop in maturity, to make their own choices of future life and work and of what matters to them, and, with advice, select the courses of study that are appropriate. The inevitable tensions between different purposes of education are most pronounced in those years. It is important that administrative and course structures at school, in tertiary education and in the work-force are flexible enough to enable young people to revise their choices as subsequent experience and learning lead them to revise their life plans.