The Educator Weekend Wrap: Gonski’s call to action, child poverty rising & workloads out of control

by The Educator22 Oct 2016

This week’s top story: In an exclusive interview with The Educator, David Gonski – the architect of the Gonski funding reforms – explained how a new philanthropy initiative by Schools Plus could have a long-term impact on disadvantaged schools. “I think that it’s a wonderful thing that people like the Pioneers are investing in the long-term, because what we’re doing is assisting schools to look after the next generation,” he said. “Governments cannot favour one school over another, but a philanthropist can. For example, if a principal says ‘I need something over and above any moneys they get’, a philanthropist can make it happen. The difference that such a thing as this can make is simply amazing”.
In other news, a new report coinciding with Anti-Poverty Week showed that one in six schoolchildren live below the poverty line. The case studies – from the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the Social Policy Research Centre report, Poverty in Australia 2016 – indicate children and parents living below the poverty line require essential support to lift them out of a generational cycle of destitution. The report said 2.9m Australians, mainly women, live below the poverty line, with 36% of people receiving social security payments living below the poverty line. Alarmingly, it revealed that child poverty in Australia had increased by 2% over the decade to 2013-14.
Finally, a new survey showed that students are suffering as teacher workloads reach unsustainable levels. An Australian Education Union Victoria (AEUVIC) survey of 13,000 teachers, revealed that a significant number of school staff are struggling to provide adequate help to their students. According to the data – analysed by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) – full-time primary teachers averaged 52.8 hours per week and full-time secondary teachers averaged 53.2 hours per week. However, just one-third of teachers say they’re able to provide timely feedback, deal with student behaviour and effectively assess student progress. In poorer schools, the situation was markedly worse, with just 58% of teachers saying they had access to appropriate teaching and learning resources, compared to 73% in wealthier schools.