Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


‘Liberals bent on destroying college system … ‘

The Tasmanian Liberal Party’s education policy reveals a Government set on destroying the college sector, the AEU’s Secondary Colleges Committee of Management (SCCOM) said yesterday.

Peta-Maree Revell-Cook, SCCOM President, said despite recommendations from its own report – the state government commissioned ACER Review into Years 9 to 12 in Tasmania – highlighting problems with the Liberal Government’s blanket approach to Year 11 and 12 extensions, it has pressed ahead with the policy.

“Despite recommendations from the ACER Review that the Year 11 and 12 policy wasn’t value for money and that the college system was doing a good job the Government has pursued a blanket policy of rolling out years 11 and 12 to all high schools,” said SCCOM President Peta-Maree Revell-Cook.

“The ACER Review concluded that turning every high school into an extension school was not viable in Tasmania, incurring huge cost with little benefit.”

“The Liberal Government needs to listen to educational experts – the college teachers – and not unqualified lounge-chair commentators with no experience of teaching in the public system in Tasmanian.
“They also need to acknowledge the data that shows that our college system is doing a great job with retention rates high and TCE attainment growing steadily.”

“The Liberals have announced a new seven to 12 school at Brighton — a stones throw from the Jorden River Learning Federation Campus — which already struggles to attract students, and an extension of Cosgrove to Year 12 – all of which will drain students from the nearby Claremont College.

“There needs to be an immediate audit of this extension program to determine whether it is the best way of spending precious education dollars or a wasteful duplication of pathways already provided by colleges that will ultimately lead to the demise of our centres of excellence, by stealth.”

Key findings of the 2016 ACER Review of Years 9 to 12 in Tasmania were:


• The introduction of Extension High Schools in the government sector, as a way of broadening curriculum offerings and to therefore improve the attendance, retention and attainment of students living in regional and rural locations, is a resource intensive option, that may have low impact.

• The online surveys suggest that only 8 per cent of the student respondents in Years 9 and 10 plan to remain at their high school in Year 11.

• The administrative and assessment and reporting requirements on the small number of teachers in Extension High Schools is demanding, as the timelines for providing assessments and reports vary for students in Years 7 to 10; Years 11 and 12; and for VET studies.

• In some Extension High Schools there seems to be a misalignment between course offerings and employment opportunities in local communities. (pg. 23)


• A low proportion of teachers at high schools believe they have the necessary qualification to teach senior secondary courses, which has implications for high schools intending to offer such courses and implications for the courses on offer by teachers in Tasmania (pg. 23)


• While Tasmanian government schools in particular, are criticised for underperforming, it should be recognised that more Tasmanian adolescents than in the past are making the transition from high school to senior college, to complete Year 12. (pg. 24)

The AEU’s SCCOM position on school extensions is:

1. We call on all parties to support the College system and halt the blanket rollout of expansion of 11/12 tops in Tasmanian High Schools.

2. We are concerned about the pace of this rollout given the adverse findings of the ACER Report commissioned, but ignored, by the Liberal Government. Until further details are released, and we can be guaranteed that all our students will receive quality education, this Liberal Government policy of extending all high schools to year 11/12 cannot be supported.

1. We call on the Government to undertake an independent audit and critical analysis of publicly available data of extension schools, attainment, retention and facilities, so we can guarantee that all students have access to the best quality education.

2. Any political policies relating to years 11 and 12 should be evidence-based and have students’ best interests at the centre.

3. We support the ongoing provision of years 11 and 12 education in isolated schools provided the funding is fair, equitable and needs-based.

4. AEU supports innovative and creative programs that see colleges and high schools working collaboratively to develop pathways for students provided it is adequately resourced.

5. It is essential that there is equity of funding and allocation of specialist teachers across all year 11/12 sectors, so all our students can have the best quality education.

“The Greens and Labor have both committed to an audit of the extension program and we are calling on the Liberals to do the same rather than rush ahead with a policy that threatens the college system and therefore ultimately student choice and quality education for all,” said Ms Revell-Cook.

“An independent, open and transparent audit is required to establish whether the extension program is value for money and delivering the best possible results and ensuring students have a choice of educational pathways in an extension school or their local college.”

*Peta-Maree Revell-Cook is President of the AEU’s Secondary Colleges Committee of Management (SCCOM)

Rebecca White: Labor will remove fees for students at all Tasmanian public schools

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  1. Simon Warriner

    June 3, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    Re #21 … “The meta-paranoiac campaign against teaching, and teaching about, our own heritage and history, culture and civilisation is very, very telling.”

    Once again, I ask why?

    What has brought about this meta-paranoiac campaign? How has it come to be? What particular group or ideology has thrust the idea that we should avoid discussion and the resulting understanding of our past/pasts forward so forcefully that it has been adopted as the de-facto state of affairs at the institutions that are supposed to be our universities?

    See how this works?

  2. Leonard Colquhoun

    June 3, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Simon, re your #20’s ‘stupidity on the part of some teachers” I suggest that this ‘stupidity’ is largely learned, rather than arrived at by personal thought and reflection.

    Sadly, it’s the now usual effluvium^ from what we once knew as (and indeed, loved as) Arts / Humanities faculties in many (most?) of today’s universities, and is similar to these two doozies: simply ignore ‘the tyranny of facts’, and ‘imposing spelling & grammar on young vulnerable minds will destroy their creativity’ ,,, and anyway, it’s probably 98% capitalistic, 99% fascistic and 100% racist and sexist!.

    As one astute wit put it – Q: “What’s the opposite of ‘diversity’? A: university!” The meta-paranoiac campaign against teaching, and teaching about, our own heritage and history, culture and civilisation is very, very telling.

    If free thought survives (and the only civilisation which has developed it and valued it) then future historians will sadly ask ‘How could they have been so completely stupid? How did early 21st century Western academia regress so moronically to the late 15th?’ And, perhaps, ‘Thankfully, it survived – and thrived – in India and Sri Lanka, Japan and Korea, Israel and Kurdistan!’

    ^ Wiktionary illustrates its literal meaning with “And he breathed the breath of the house — a dank savour rather than a smell — a cold, musty effluvium as from underground vaults mingled with the reeking exhalations of linoleum and mildewed and rotten woodwork” (O Henry, ‘The Furnished Room’, 1906).

  3. Simon Warriner

    June 3, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Thanks for that link, Leonard.

    Following on from your additional comments I suspect that there is also an underlying presumption of stupidity on the part of some teachers that works to limit the effort made by the students. Rather than applying pressure on the student to improve, they excuse the lack of performance with “you should be happy with the child you have”.

    I have had that crap delivered to me personally by a principal whose performance was abysmal, and which cost her school numerous students when the parents voted with their feet. An eyesight problem was later diagnosed, corrected and improvement gained, but by then it was too late and the lost ground was never fully made up – although compensatory tactics have been developed by the student.

    Lots more reading to do, obviously.

  4. Leonard Colquhoun

    June 3, 2018 at 4:07 am

    Here is a beginning of a response to this question in Comment #17 … “why do you think ‘academics’ began to spew Whole Word nonsense at that particular point in time”: https://jan.ucc.nau.edu/jar/Reading_Wars.html .

    Googling “how did the ‘whole word’ theory of learning to read develop?” ]produces many other sources.

    Additionally, there’s the not-all-that-faint suspicion that the sustained discipline associated with teaching the alphabetic code was just a bit too hard. As well, the discovery of the genuine affliction of dyslexia provided a useful cop-out. BTW, a colleague whose son was dyslexic told me how he found written Chinese a lot easier to learn than our linear alphabetic writing. Finally, teachers of English are not fully fit for purpose without some knowledge, or at least some awareness, of Latin, German and French.

  5. C Hemple

    June 2, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    The real issue is the cosy club of secondary college teachers. Most are horrified at the thought of actually teaching in a real school.

    The kids in grades 11 and 12 in high schools are taught right until the end of the year, while the college kids and teachers cease classes in November.

  6. Simon Warriner

    February 26, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    Once upon a time I was a member of “the Institute of Diagnostic Engineers”, a motley collection, of mainly blokes, whose purpose in employment was to figure out why things were broken.

    One of the gems found among that particular pile of rocks was the idea that you had to ask why seven times to get to the root cause of a failure.

    In that spirit, and in order that we might better understand this debacle and avoid repeating it, Leonard, why do you think “academics” began to spew Whole Word nonsense at that particular point in time?

  7. Leonard Colquhoun

    February 26, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Entirely by happenstance, I’ve just finished reading Ruth Rendell’s 1977 “A Judgement in Stone” – here is its (slightly edited) opening chapter:

    [i]“Eunice Parchman killed the Covedale family because she could not read or write.

    “There was no real motive and no premeditation. No money was gained and no security. As a result of her crime. . . . [she] accomplished by it nothing but disaster for herself, and all along . . . she knew she would accomplish nothing. And yet, although her companion and partner was mad, she was not. . . .

    “Literacy is one of the cornerstones of civilisation. To be illiterate is to be deformed. And the derision which was once directed at the physical freak may perhaps more justly, descend on the illiterate. If he or she can lead a cautious life among the uneducated, all may be well. . . . It was unfortunate for Eunice Parchman, and for them, that the people who employed her, and in whose house she lived for ten months, were peculiarly literate.”[/i]

    Note the publication date, just as the first few toxic shoots of the Whole Word nonsense began to spew out of academia. We now have hundreds of thousands of ‘Eunice [and Eustace] Parchman’ school-leavers who can’t read and write. There are so many of them that they need no longer feel singular in their mental deformity, so maybe the Covedales among us need worry just that bit less.

  8. Leonard Colquhoun

    February 22, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Simon, about your #12, try: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5417793/School-grades-report-cards-radical-call.html

    In the late 20th century I worked at a no-grades school (imposed internally for the usual fatuous ‘reasons’). At every parent/teacher/student night almost every chat included polite versions of “What is this @#%& no-grades nonsense?” The ‘real’ teachers in the staff had to tread warily and very diplomatically when answering, particularly to preserve their professional reputation.

    This was my classroom tactic: “School policy is against grades as such. You can get a good idea of how well you’ve done by first, seeing how many sentences I’ve written and then looking at how you work is described”. (A grade “by any other name” would tell the feat.)

    Maybe a journo grabbed a quick bite and didn’t bother with the qualifications and context, thus resulting in simplistic nonsense.

    Strangely BTW, I haven’t found it on the ACER’s own website yet, so I hope that no-grading does not extend to medical criteria or airline pilot standards.

  9. Verdun Schmerl

    February 22, 2018 at 12:30 am

    … And the AEU’s solution to raising Year 12 retention rates is … Still waiting … oh yes, pay us more money.

  10. Simon Warriner

    February 21, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    re #11 … Maybe, but unless we can get past the paywall we cannot see it.

  11. Leonard Colquhoun

    February 21, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    Not on this specific ‘schooling’ matter, but certainly in the ‘education’ sphere, this was in today’s ‘Australian’ …


    Mr Einstein’s now-famous aphorism immediately came to mind.

  12. Verdun Schmerl

    February 21, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    Again, so many words in support of no change for your comfortable College teachers and not one in support of your customers – the students. That reveals your selfish objective.

    And voters aren’t dumb, as you so arrogantly assert. The voters always get it right. That’s what a democracy is all about.

  13. Verdun Schmerl

    February 21, 2018 at 10:30 am

    #5 … The subject choices would be available in regional high schools if change-resistant College teachers would drive there from their comfortable urban areas. Fact is you only care about the teachers, not the students.

    Given that high schools go to Grade 12 in all other States and they have much better retention rates and educational outcomes than Tasmania, the evidence is in. Well, the evidence is obvious for everyone other than the self-interested College teachers’ lobby that appears content with the current under-performance.

    Rejecting this sensible change will only reinforce the current drift to private schools, which the public sector hates but is not willing to compete against because it means change.

    And it is paid for – see the Budget papers.

  14. Verdun Schmerl

    February 19, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    Lots of whingeing about change from a self-interested lobby who don’t want to have to move to the country high schools outside their cosy city colleges. Heaps of words but none in favour of the students and no attempt to answer the public policy problem of Tasmania’s woeful Year 12 finishing rates.

  15. TGC

    February 19, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    If Labor is serious about ‘free’ education it will ensure it’s not just ‘fees’ but that the provision of books/uniforms etc is also ‘free’.
    (Must stop there – it’s lunchtime!)

  16. Chris

    February 17, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Is this another “Modern School” attempt which was tried in the fifties?
    Us and them?

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