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Regional secondary school consolidation


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This is a copy of the slides from my presentation at #ACELNC2018 as part of the Australian Showcase. It is a summary of some ongoing work on school consolidation.

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Regional secondary school consolidation

  1. 1. Regional secondary school consolidation Dr Scott Eacott School of Education
  2. 2. The key challenge for regional, rural and remote education is ensuring, regardless of location or circumstances, that every young person has access to high quality schooling and opportunities
  3. 3. Substantial evidence that regional and rural education is identifiable for: • Difficulties attracting and retaining staff; • The personal and professional challenges of living outside major centres; and • Less educational opportunity (including exporting talent) and higher costs in provision. However, this is all primarily informed by comparisons with metropolitan centres
  4. 4. Productivity Commission – school education
  5. 5. Major cities (92.7%), inner/outer regional (90.6) and remote/very remote (85.6%). State average of 92.1% Regional (5%) and rural students (4%) achieve top bands at approximately one third the rate of metro peers (14%). A systematic policy response since 2014. Higher percentage of inexperienced staff, fewer specialist teachers, and younger executive staff. 2017 NAPLAN has regional students performing 2 years behind major cities and remote / very remote as much as 4 years behind. Enroll a higher percentage of disadvantaged students than cities
  6. 6. All in regional areas 3 forms of consolidation total schools students Teachers (FTE) Teachers (FTE) Students Secondary schools Collegiate models involving 44 sites (11%) Consolidation reforms underway (1.5%) investment by NSW Government to address regional and rural education Capital expenditure spend in 2018-2019 budget papers Recurrent expenses in 2018-2019 budget papers in Australia. Educating 20.57% of all Australian students
  7. 7. • Long history in the USA dating back to 1800s, with recent moves in China, Denmark, Canada. • Often rationalized as increasing educational opportunity and reducing costs in provision. • Major influence on community identity (if closure) and/or issues of ‘us and them’. • Mixed evidence on whether there is any impact on student outcomes • Students seem to cope better and engage in broader social and educational activities much quicker than staff. • Questions remains about optimum school size.
  8. 8. Ongoing project aiming to: • Investigate the context specific relations (e.g., cultural, political, social, historical, future) influencing regional secondary school consolidation in contemporary Australia; • Develop principles for school- based and systemic interventions designed to increase equity and excellence outcomes for students in regional locations.
  9. 9. • Pre-consolidation is a significant hinge point for conceptualizing what the new school is and can be. • Great importance in having clarity of identity and purpose • Overall coherence of activity is crucial to building confidence in reforms. • Consolidation provides an ideal time to take responsibility for the narrative of the school and education.
  10. 10. Conceptual framework
  11. 11. (i) HS1 + HS2 → CHS (ii) CHS = HS1 + HS2 (iii) ??? How much of what we do is caught up in the physical materials of ‘the school’? I don't think that [us and them] will ever change. It's been in [the town] since day dot. I grew up here, I went to high school here. It was like that when we were growing up here in the '80s. It was us and them. And now, that's not going to change. They're never going to remove that stigma regardless of what they call the new school. … I think they're going to have a lot of trouble removing that. School leader, HS1
  12. 12. Emphasis on academic success (leadership) (N=92, Scale adapted from TIMSS 2015)
  13. 13. People knowing their role moving forward, I think is the biggest unknown. I think once people know what their job is going to entail then some of the other nitty-gritty stuff can start to come together. And it will just snowball. It will happen quickly after that. From the get go I think the minister did a talk about improving the results in the town. I think he also had a vision of having the one super- school working with other things in town, like local businesses. Some of the big businesses in town and the council all working together., and being able to use some access to some university stuff out this way.
  14. 14. Effectiveness begins with clarity Many debates about the effectiveness of schools and/educators come down to differences in the purpose/s of schooling. In the absence of an explicitly identified purpose means that others will assume a purpose and make judgements based on that. To this end, the first step towards effectiveness is having clarity of purpose and being able to articulate that purpose. This means that you generate the conditions / criteria in which you are assessed. It also this means that others may be pursuing different purposes to you.
  15. 15. There were two models on offer and all of them that were promoted to the staff and to community members at private meetings was about improving student results. However, nothing within those models talked about any change to what’s happening with teaching in classrooms. It was all about pretty manicured lawns, waterfalls and glass buildings. The happy evidence that’s rammed down our throats since about 2003 has been the key factor in improving the performance of students at school is the teacher who’s in front of the class. There is no clear link how the school consolidation is going to actually improve outcomes for students. I think there was more of an interest in appealing to the bling factor of people within our community to have something pretty. .
  16. 16. You are judged in relation to coherence Explicitly articulating the purpose of education provides the basis from which to judge performance. That is, with clarity comes judgement based on the coherence of your activity against that purpose. Importantly, this becomes not about right / wrong and instead whether the activities of the school are consistent with the articulated purpose/s.
  17. 17. Narrative A lady who works with my wife, and this is how the town is – it’s a country town, she goes and has her nails done and the nail technician knows the whole lot about both schools, what's going to happen and how it's going to work. That's what happening out in the community.
  18. 18. You generate the narrative for your school Having established the purpose/s for which you are working towards and demonstrating coherence (or at least naming the criteria by which you wish to be judged) you generate the narrative for your school. This narrative need not be the same as other schools. It is not about consensus but crafting unique stories about the work of educators.
  19. 19. Cultural Political Future Social Historical
  20. 20. • What educational principles are driving this reform? • Have a diverse range of social groups been recognized and valued in decision making? • Who has the most to gain and lose in this activity? • How has the history of the school been acknowledged in this activity? • Are we offering something new or just a better (more effective / efficient) way of doing what we currently are?
  21. 21. Building on an extensive literature review, scoping study, and ongoing project, we can say: - Regional and rural education presents an enduring equity and excellence issue for Australian education; - Clarity, coherence, and narrative offers a productive way of thinking through school reform; and - Thinking relationally provides the most appropriate means of achieving smooth reform.
  22. 22. The Gonski Institute for Education (GIE) at UNSW Sydney has provided some resources for the research presented in this paper. Research assistants: Nhu Hien Luong Phan (Hilary), Cherry Zin Oo, and Shanna Langdon The School of Education has provided seed funding for the empirical work presented Students in my courses who have workshopped many of the ideas of working through the data. The New South Wales Department of Education has provided funding for a Scoping Study on regional secondary school consolidation and then further funding for a four year evaluation of reform initiatives in regional NSW. School of Education UNSW Arts & Social Sciences
  23. 23. Now accepting EOIs for EdD 31 October 2018
  24. 24. School of Education UNSW SYDNEY P: +61 2 9385 0704 T: @ScottEacott E: W: