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


The open abandonment of this school community by our government is damning …

A national and state overview. Second in a three-part series

In the Tasmanian suburbs where pokies are bleeding money, families have fled to enrol their children elsewhere.

Our Liberal government is of the belief that schooling is about buildings, meetings and timetables. What they fail to understand is that it is the building of relationships that learning requires, and for many students, this involves small group or one to one interaction.

The liberal government has just announced four new policies in the lead up to the next election of which three are building programs with $22 million for a new school at Sorell, a $20 million spend at Penguin District School and $20 million to upgrade Cosgrove High School. NOT ONE DOLLAR of this will provide any additional assistance to support a student enrolled in our system and this is what teachers in Tasmania’s public schools are crying out for.

Recently Saul Eslake said that Education in Tasmania should be the government’s first, second and third priority. It will never happen as there is zero will on the government’s part and only the Greens so far have put forward a plan to address the deplorable situation whereby equality of opportunity is decreasing rather than increasing in our schools.

How can we have allowed a school such as Taroona High, south of Hobart, to be bursting at the seams with well over a thousand students, many from out-of-area, yet equidistant but north of the city Cosgrove High is left to languish with a hundred and fifty. The school has less than a 70% attendance rate. For those Tasmanians who struggle with maths that’s three out of every ten students are not at school on any given day. The school resides in the low socio economic suburb of Glenorchy where $20 million is lost annually to pokies and where the teachers and students are dealing daily with home issues, high levels of crime and family violence. The open abandonment of this school community by our government is damning as it is for several other school communities.

It is staggering that our Premier recently announced his government’s desire for a new inner city high school without mentioning plans for Cosgrove High. The only reason I can think of is that the location for his proposed inner city high school has already been determined. The conversion of Elizabeth or Hobart College to a year 7-12 school could well be in his thinking as the government has recently announced all high schools will be offering year 11/12 programs in the future and a diminished number of students will therefore be attending our colleges.

Our current liberal government sacked 266 public school teachers in 2014 just as the Gonski money began to flow into the state. They stripped our public high schools of, on average, two teachers and four from each of our colleges in 2015 and they have allowed only a pittance of the additional $80 million of Gonski money that was provided to support public schools over the last four years to pass through any school gate. It would be a scandal except for the fact that the deals signed were open to abuse. Tasmania’s agreement provided the lowest proportion of funding allocated to its public school sector of the five states and territories that signed one.

The Labor party’s policy to provide free transport to the local school is welcomed but it is two decades too late. Rene Hidding’s response at the time that it will see bus fares increase for others who send their children far and wide clearly shows that debating the merits and reasons for policy on education is a low priority. Parents who have their children enrolled at their local public school have for years been subsidising the travel costs of those who choose to enrol their children at a public, catholic or independent school elsewhere and anywhere in Tasmania.

Tasmanian taxpayers provide a staggering $20 million per year for this purpose.

One would think that the road congestion caused by this subsidised travel alone would see the government wanting to discuss the proposal seriously. 55% of students who live in the Sorell School zone bypass their local school and less than a handful of seventy plus exiting year 6 children from Brighton Primary enrol for year 7 at their local high school.

In my decade of being principal at Bowen Road Primary, in no year did any more than two year 6 students from an average of 40 enrol at Cosgrove High School, their co-ed school option. 600 of Tasmania’s year 6 public school students leave the system to enrol in non-government schools every year when they enrol for high school.

The priority of the next government of Tasmania should be to research the issue, determine the reasons for the exit, and put policies in place to address the problem. Year 7 to 10 education is where our priorities should lie as 600 government school students leave the public system each year to enrol in catholic or independent schools for year 7 but return to enrol in one of our Colleges for year 11, which are astonishingly under threat.

For the first time in living memory we have a Minister for Education who does not have an advisor who is a current or former principal – and it shows.

*Terry Polglase is former AEU state president (2012 to 2016) and Principal Bowen Road Primary (2002 to 2011) / Tasman District School (1996 to 2001).

The Conversation: The UK is rethinking university degrees and Australia should too

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  1. Pete Godfrey

    February 6, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Hi Leonard, there is an easy way to deal with mobile phones in schools. They are called mobile phone jammers.
    Also for drivers who use their phones while driving, the phones should be programmed that if the phone is travelling above walking speed, it will not work ( easy as most smart phones have GPS built in).
    On education, I left that system when they brought in competency-based learning. I was a TAFE teacher at the time and could not see how narrow skill based training would help an apprentice to be a good tradesperson.
    There was even talk of making some part-trades and shortening the course to 2 years, such as splitting Painting and Decorating into two separate courses.
    What would happen is that people would be locked into very narrow skill sets for life unless they went back to training ( paying a fortune for it) and expanded their knowledge.
    My solution was to look for work elsewhere where I could find meaning.
    It appears that some folk in government want a pack of lowly trained people to do the work for minimum pay and satisfaction. Apparently only if you are born into the right family do you have a right to meaningful work.

  2. Leonard Colquhoun

    February 6, 2018 at 2:34 am

    There were many media reports last week that some education departments were considering the possibility of maybe looking at the option of perhaps working towards setting up an investigative committee to consult widely about whether children could be asked (nicely) to turn off – or turn in – their mobile phones during school hours.

    Traditional head teachers and teaching staff, who knew what adults are and who knew who the adults in a school were, would have been scratching their heads, blinking their eyes, and wondering “WTF!”

    It’s not just the students who have been infantilised, it’s the head teachers and teachers as well.

  3. Simon Warriner

    February 5, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    re this: “Year 7 to 10 education is where our priorities should lie as 600 government school students leave the public system each year to enrol in catholic or independent schools for year 7 ”

    No Terry, the priorities that need addressing are in the years well before this. They are around making sure that students do not progress through the grades unless and until they meet the basic benchmarks for literacy, numeracy, comprehension, and discipline.

    The reason my son left the public system in precisely the circumstance you describe was because he was entirely fed up with having his learning experience severely damaged by a group of undisciplined little shits who were allowed to get between him and his education at every opportunity by poor classroom management and a stupid pc regime from school management. He was reduced to tears of frustration and rage and had we returned him to that classroom for year 7 I suspect an ambulance would have been required, for the offensive little shits and for the staff intent on punishing my child for doing what their parents failed to do long ago. Interestingly a majority of his year left the school at that point.

    He went to the Catholic system which did a great job, and he is now in the workforce and living away from home and doing fine having turned 17 last week. He will get at least one trade and be capable of buying his first house before his 21st birthday.

    A read of this might help you understand what his parents set out to avoid right from his first breath.

    (Leonard, I thought of you when I read this late last week. It is very relevant to you last para)

    Our public education system wound up being a hindrance which is something its operators and management should contemplate at length while they still get paid to think about how to do their jobs.

  4. Leonard Colquhoun

    February 5, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    So, about time that the “UK is rethinking university degrees and Australia should too”:

    ~ if 75% ‘qualify’ (whatever TF that means!) for universities, are they still ‘universities”?

    ~ if many graduates still can’t effectively read, ‘rite and ‘rith;

    ~ if the credentials thus gotten are, in the vernacular, ‘fucken useless’;

    ~ if real argument, debate and exchanges of views and attitudes are suppressed (by, say, ‘trigger warnings’^ and no-platforming), are today’s academies any advance on their Roman Catholic predecessors in the Late Mediaeval period?

    ~ and, if real, actual, live training for ‘real’ trades and professions are down-graded and dissed, pushed aside and utterly neglected.

    If half the fake Arts / Humanities courses (and I reckon that’s me being nice) were abolished next week, would anyone (apart from their peddlers, of course) feel any loss?

    ^ What an infantilising of (chronologically) young adults! Why are they not rebelling against such an insulting attitude?

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