PDF Face Forward: Meeting Challenges Head On in Times of Trouble

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The traffic is a bit heavier than usual, but things are moving. Putting the challenges of your work day o n mental hold until the morning, you start to look forward to your dinner. But then, as you approach a junction, you find your usual way blocked by bright red signs, and orange and white plastic barriers.

If you are like most people, as soon as you see your route blocked, and simultaneously whilst cursing under your breath, you pop into a state of heightened alertness, automatically scanning your surroundings and looking for a way to keep the car rolling, all the while rapidly reviewing and evaluating mental images of alternative routes.

You select one. You cut down a side road, mentally recalculating, searching for the flow, finding a way around the blockages, and finally, later than planned and maybe a bit more tired and hungry, you make it to the dinner table. So does everyone else. No one gives up and remains balled-up on the pavement. The best executives I have observed share an amazing capacity to cope with unwanted circumstances with acceptance, determination and flexibility.

As in any turbulent time, you need a focus on the following:. In Australia, as John Ainley and Eveline Gebhardt observe in their report Measure for Measure , between-school variance increased from 18 per cent to 24 per cent, suggesting that our schools became more different from each other over this time. Significant between-school increases also were recorded in New Zealand, Sweden and the United States. Further, there was a significant increase in the gap between low and high socioeconomic schools in Australia over this period.

Australia was the only OECD country to observe such an increase, with several countries recording a significant decrease. And there is little reason for optimism that this trend is about to reverse. A third challenge is to re-design the school curriculum to better prepare students for life and work in the 21st century. And the pace of change is accelerating, with increasing globalisation; advances in technology, communications and social networking; greatly increased access to information; an explosion of knowledge; and an array of increasingly complex social and environmental issues.

The world of work also is undergoing rapid change with greater workforce mobility, growth in knowledge-based work, the emergence of multi-disciplinary work teams engaged in innovation and problem solving, and a much greater requirement for continual workplace learning. The school curriculum must attempt to equip students for this significantly changed and changing world. However, many features of the school curriculum have been unchanged for decades.

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We continue to present disciplines largely in isolation from each other, place an emphasis on the mastery of large bodies of factual and procedural knowledge and treat learning as an individual rather than collective activity. This is particularly true in the senior secondary school, which then influences curricula in the earlier years. There is little evidence that these general features of the school curriculum are about to change.

At the same time we are seeing a decline in the popularity of subjects such as advanced mathematics and science and a decline in the performances of Australian students in comparison with students in some other countries. International studies indicate that the top 10 per cent of our Year 8 students now perform at about the same level in mathematics as the top 50 per cent of students in Singapore, Korea and Chinese Taipei. Again, it is not obvious that we have policies in place to reform mathematics and science curricula in ways that might reverse these trends in subject enrolments and performance.

Meeting this third challenge requires a significant rethink of the school curriculum. A fourth challenge is to provide more flexible learning arrangements in schools to better meet the needs of individual learners. The organisation of schools and schooling also has been largely unchanged for decades. Although composite classes are common, students tend to be grouped into year levels, by age, and to progress automatically with their age peers from one year of school to the next. A curriculum is developed for each year of school, students are placed in mixed-ability classes, teachers deliver the curriculum for the year level they are teaching, and students are assessed and graded on how well they perform on that curriculum.

This approach to organising teaching and learning might be appropriate if students of the same age commenced each school year at more or less the same point in their learning. But this is far from the case; the most advanced students commencing any year of school are typically five to six years ahead of the least advanced students. In practice this means that less advanced students often struggle with year-level expectations and are judged to be performing poorly — often year after year.

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At the other extreme, some more advanced students are unchallenged by year-level expectations and receive high grades year after year with minimal effort. Underpinning this practice is a tacit belief that the same curriculum is appropriate for all, or almost all, students of the same age. Learning success and failure are then defined as success or failure in mastering this common curriculum. This age-based approach to organising teaching and learning is deeply entrenched and reinforced by legislation that requires teachers to judge and grade all students against year-level expectations.

In this way, excellent progress becomes an expectation of every student, including those who are already more advanced. Identifying and meeting the needs of children on trajectories of low achievement. A fifth challenge is to identify as early as possible children who are at risk of falling behind in their learning and to address their individual learning needs. Some children are already well behind year-level expectations, and many of these children remain behind throughout their schooling.

Trajectories of low achievement often begin well before school. Differences by Year 3 tend to be continuations of differences apparent on entry to school when children have widely varying levels of cognitive, language, physical, social and emotional development. Some children are at risk because of developmental delays or special learning needs; some begin school at a disadvantage because of their limited mastery of English or their socioeconomically impoverished living circumstances; and some, including some Indigenous children, experience multiple forms of disadvantage.


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Many children in our schools not only remain on trajectories of low achievement, but also fall further behind with each year of school. They make up a long — and sometimes growing — tail of underperforming students, many of whom continually fail to meet minimum standards of achievement. Meeting this fifth challenge depends on better ways of: identifying children at risk of being locked into trajectories of low achievement at the earliest possible ages; enhancing levels of school readiness; diagnosing learning difficulties upon entry to school; and intervening intensively during the early years of school to address individual learning needs to give as many students as possible the chance of successful ongoing learning.

I totally agree with your comments on low achievers. The biggest problem we have in my school is the inability of infants teachers and the principal to realise that students who enter year 3 achieving in bands 1 and 2 are fighting an uphill battle to progress more than 2. This is an important article and interesting to see how many of the challenges facing your schools are mirrored here in the UK.

I wonder to what extent the same factors lie behind those challenges? But the Hertsmere Labour Party say the reorganisation was a "political execution" and believe it was down to Mr Graham referring expenses paid back by Cllr Bright to independent auditors.

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But in emails obtained by a Freedom of Information request by the Labour Party in February and made to the studio's managing director Roger Morris, Donald Graham said he told Cllr Bright the expenses needed to be repaid. When asked about this by the auditors, Cllr Bright said the reception for his MBE award was attended by councillors and staff alike so "it was not unreasonable for the costs of the reception to be met by the council".

Several Conservative councillors had previously questioned the findings of the report, where the auditors warned the council it was "open to accusations that it is not sufficiently transparent about expenditure", at a meeting in July. Hertsmere corporate director Sajida Bijle, acting as chief executive when Mr Graham was on sick leave, told the councillors the terms of reference were made with the chief executive and head of finance Mathew Banyon.

Harvey Patterson, head of legal and democratic services, said there were assurances made by the auditors BDO that the report was independent.

racomtavi.tk The decision to cut the chief executive role, announced at a meeting on September 18, will mean an interim senior management structure will be in place while a revised structure and implementation plan is developed; and a timetable for further consultation and change management are put forward. Cllr Bright told the meeting: "On a personal note Donald Graham is the longest serving chief executive in Hertsmere's history and we've always worked closely together throughout that time for the good of the borough.

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An extraordinary meeting, also on September 18, put forward four proposals by opposition councillors from the Liberal Democrats and Labour. The first - which was agreed - suggested there should be "a reasonable balance" between statutory and critical business, discussion of reports and policy, holding the executive to account and supporting the work of committees at the meetings.

And another - also agreed - called for new procedures and rules for extraordinary meetings that removed existing restrictions that mean questions from councillors and notice of motions cannot be tabled. And now the council's 'constitution and member development panel' CMDP will be asked to draw up formal proposals.