On Friday 19 August, the NSW government released the report and recommendations from the review of BOSTES. Federation notes that while the government has accepted all recommendations, they now have to introduce legislation into parliament in order to implement these recommendations. Once draft legislation is made public then Federation will further develop its approach in response.
In the meantime Federation has developed a set of principles through which the reforms to the BOSTES might be considered. Rather than posing the issues as being approached through the narrow managerialism focus of “modern governance procedures” these principles seek to establish guidelines which place the interest of students and the quality of educational provision at the centre of deliberations.
TEN PRINCIPLES ON THE REFORM OF BOSTES
- The central role of representative teacher unions in the reform process is necessary for effective, sustainable change and educational improvement;
- Quality curriculum development requires the pivotal involvement of teachers who will deliver the change and reform. Teachers are in fact the essential “experts” in syllabus construction and curriculum development. They need to be engaged at all levels of the educational reform process;
- Such a significant body as BOSTES must reflect the primacy of the interests of children in government schools who comprise the great majority of students in NSW, including those in the greatest educational need. As part of this, government school principals and parents need to be included within its deliberative forums;
- It is the fundamental responsibility of the NSW Government and its Education Department to run, supervise, support and oversee NSW government schools. These roles cannot properly or effectively be outsourced to a third party, statutory authority;
- The notion of unannounced visits and English-style “raids” on schools are unacceptable in NSW education;
- Syllabuses and curriculum developed for NSW schools should be primarily developed in NSW by the blend of the skills and experience of the teaching profession and its academic, parental and system partners. The proposition that NSW should abandon its proud and successful heritage which has built the strongest curriculum, assessment and examination tradition in Australia in order to “adopt and adapt” the Australian Curriculum that is the brainchild of Canberra bureaucrats is unacceptable;
- The Commonwealth has no constitutional responsibility for education; it neither runs any schools nor employs any teachers in this state; it has an undistinguished record in its interventions in building school, curriculum and education policy and it consequently has an understandably low reputation amongst the teaching profession;
- Any change process should commence with the recognition that NSW has a deep and successful heritage and intellectual strength embedded in the education community especially in the domains of curriculum development, assessment and examination and a shared value system and culture;
- Moves towards a less crowded curriculum are to be generally welcomed;
- No case has been made to justify the change in the name of the BOSTES. This reads as a further vanity of the Review. Students, parents and teachers will have had three title changes to the NSW statutory body that oversees their curriculum, assessment and examinations within the space of three years. This is an expensive, disruptive and gratuitous proposition that bears no relationship to the provision of quality education.