NSW teachers ban school league tables

Five hundred and fifty New South Wales Teachers Federation union delegates have unanimously voted for a series of actions to stop the publication of school league tables at their annual conference.

New South Wales is the only state which has a ban on the publication of the results in the press, but the Premier Nathan Rees wants to try and overturn it.
The annual conference decision included the threat of an industrial campaign to ban the implementation of the 2010 national testing program if results are published in simplistic league tables.
Delegates also voted to hold a major rally before the resumption of State Parliament in September.
The NSW Education Minister, Verity Firth, says the government will consider taking the teachers to the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) if they refuse to cooperate. However, the Teachers Federation has a long history of defiance of IRC decisions that have an adverse impact on students.
She claims the data is necessary for parents to know their child’s performance. However, the national testing data for each student is already provided, without unfair ranking, to every parent. Schools fully report on learning through existing annual school reports, bi-annual student reports, parent-teacher interviews and school newsletters.

Simplistic damage
In a clear example of the damage simplistic reporting can inflict with a mainstream media hungry to name and shame, school league tables were banned in 1997 after a Daily Telegraph report about Mount Druitt High School carried the headline “Class We Failed”.
The students went on to sue News Limited for defamation and the Telegraph was forced to publish a full apology. Disgracefully, the Telegraph is leading the charge of print media who have a commercial interest in the publishing of league tables so as to mitigate their flagging circulations.

By John Morris

Other conference decisions

Other decisions included possible industrial and NSW election campaigning if the government does not reverse a decision to reduce face to face hours of special education teachers and also if the working hours of TAFE teachers are extended.
The possible attack on conditions through the highly divisive performance based pay model of Federal Education Minster Julia Gillard was referred to further evaluation of models such as those in Scandanavian countries, where experienced teachers are recognised with release time to mentor beginning teachers – critically important with many “baby boomer” teachers set to retire.


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