Monday, August 24, 2015

WACSSO Annual Conference

Last weekend they held the Western Australian Council of State School Organisations Inc. (WACSSO) annual conference. I participated as a nominated representative of our school, through the affiliated P&C, for part of the Sunday (rather ill on Saturday meant that I was unable to attend). Here's a bit of a run down of the goings on during my time there.

Sharyn O'Neill, Director General of the Department of Education opened her presentation with a statement that, with some relief, the year 7s have been made to feel welcome in high schools and that the change has been well implemented. She also said that there was inequality of sustainable/fair funding for schools and that the argument for more funds continued. Much debate regarding the formal implementation of the new curriculum had taken place. WA is the only state where 4 y.o. children attend kindergarten at school. More focus on writing is required - NAPLAN has revealed this. A total of 442 schools were now Independent Public Schools (IPS). And for three years in a row there was an increase in public school market share. Some of this was due to the economy and some was related to confidence in public schools. It marked a reversal of 20 years of declining market share. A new program whereby 3 y.o. children in an Aboriginal community received schooling also provided an opportunity for the Education Department to assist the parents.

She spoke about the influences on the education/learning of children. Parents have the most influence when it comes to their children's learning, followed by teachers, because of their involvement in input to the children's school and learning at home. An increase in the father's involvement has been shown statistically to lead to an increase with student scores, both in primary and high school. Parents need to set standards and make decisions. A teaching parent is one who discusses values, knowledge, skills, showing respect among other things. Sitting down and watching a TV program, even something as horrid as The Bachelor, could lead to a chat about racism, gender, homophobia, etc. Children would be better served obtain values and knowledge from their parents than what the media is foisting upon them. Parents need to influence the learning of their children.

Sharyn mentioned that the media pushes girls to look, dress and act older. Sexuality is promoted at a much younger age than previously. She had concerns about the generalisation of gender.

She spoke about technology that will keep advancing but we need to find ways to utilise it in schooling. Technology is also competing with the influence of parents and teachers.

Children need to learn to ask questions, not assume that everything in the media is true and be discerning.

A brief on some of the questions, with notice, asked;

What is the expected date for all schools to be transitioned to IPS? - No date, the choice belongs to schools to nominate and then there is a selection process. Not compulsory.

How is the curriculum catering for under-achievers and the push for OLNA achievement? - Schools should not wait until then and they need to identify struggling students and engage them at a much earlier time.

Are P&Cs largely fundraising bodies, what is their role beyond? - P&Cs are much broader, but unrecognised. They can be further involved with issues raised with the school board/council.

Why are principals given so much autonomy? - This is due to the Education Act, principals are held accountable for what happens at the school. Schools need to customise to requirements of students/region. The principals are not autonomous, otherwise they would need to be a private school.

Where should complains from teachers and parents regarding a principal be directed? - Tell them directly. Doesn't want to hear playground/car park chatter.

How will the Education Department deal with inner city housing density growth? - Consider space for out-of-boundary. Exercise rules and stop taking students from out-of-boundary (children already at the school will not be deprived of their place). Consider local intake areas. PEAC and GAT places could be moved. Transportables, new buildings, rebuilding and multi-storey schools were a possibility.

Will all schools be allocated school psyches for Schools of Special Needs Education (SSEND)? - No, the director general can't control the allocation of non-educational staff. It's done on a needs basis and resources are limited.

What is the accountability for under-performing school/principal? - There is a strong accountability for principals and there are consequences. Performance management a process to test under-performance. There is a correlation between performance and social circumstances. This needs to be tackled but it's important that schools are seen to be improving.

Transfer points have diminished since the introduction of IPS. What is being done? - The IPS relates to being chosen. Schools advertise and appoint teachers. The teachers need to want to be there and need to have the mix of skills that the school requires.

What about the need to attract and retain quality teachers to country schools? - Allowances up to $18k/year, permanence after two year, overseas recruiting if necessary. For remote communities there is an additional $26k/year, free relocation, an additional 10 weeks annual leave after three years of service and no issue with filling these positions. For the last four years there has been a 100% teacher placement, i.e. no shortage, at the commencement of the school year. Switch is a program that provides retraining for teachers to move into other secondary school areas.

Sharyn O'Neill, Director General, Department of Education
 Allan Blagaich, CEO of the School Curriculum & Standards Authority was next to speak. His organisation is the one authority to determine outcomes for all kids within the public, Catholic education and independent schools. He spoke of the push for a parent Website which will be able to demonstrate the standards of work from children in years K-10 which will result in grades A, B and C for all subject learning areas. He mentioned that a c-grade was a pass and that a d-grade was below the acceptable level therefore an e-grade, a leftover from the NSW education system, didn't make much sense. Remediation is also necessary.

Allan said that within a class of students of the same age it has been shown that there can be a range of six years in ability. This makes life for a teacher difficult.

Student record of student achievement was to commence. Grades must have the same meaning throughout the state and currently this is only attained for year 12.

Core subjects are available until year 10 then choices must be made. For children not studying under the curriculum they must have an individual education plan with which the parents, student and teachers will be involved in.

TAFE has been critical of students who are technically literate upon leaving school, by having attained a c-grade in English, but were not numerate. This was being addressed.

OLNA tests mean that those passing have a minimum attainment suitable for Cert II courses. And 10-15% of students can't attain this. There is a need to review foundation courses and early intervention is certainly required.
Allan Blagaich, CEO, School Curriculum and Standards Authority
Kylie Catto, WACSSO President, was mainly involved in ensuring that the conference proceeded well and did prize draws during my time there.
Kylie Catto, WACSSO President
John Worsfold, the keynote presenter, spoke about building a high performance team. and the leadership involved in them.

Passion and authenticity need to be shown as a leader in a high performing team. A vision focus, what and why you are trying to achieve, is necessary. You must also use mental models, values to drive for, in the form of beliefs and assumptions. Powerful leadership is critical. You have to be strong, focused, believe in the values, convey the message and be passionate about the goals. Communication is important as is a clear vision. Both vision and mental models need to be strongly aligned. Don't forget team values.

Leadership - vision focused, authentic, communication is a strength - message has to be clear and consistent. Needs to define what success would look and feel like.

Mental Models - made up of our beliefs, values and assumptions. They drive our performance and are resistant to change. The message is interpreted differently by people and needs to be defined. We can't see them clearly ourselves. There needs to be a rich, skillful, daily feedback to help us reflect on our mental models.

Teams - individuals with different mental models. Dialogue is crucial to gain rich knowledge we all bring to a team. Egos need to be left at the door.

Leadership with a vision focus - long term view necessary, focus on team culture and shared vision, set and live the standards, align every team member with the vision, mentally tough - aim high, be true in assessments of self and team, consider feedback but not necessarily act upon it, inspire team members to make things happen.

Team first - an athlete whose primary goal is not the success of the team will usually not improve the team's performance - Ric Charlesworth.

Vision and values - cornerstone to high performance, authenticity, communication, vision, need to vocalise team goal.

Accountability - like to know how we are going, creates opportunity for dialogue, KPIs are not a big stick, take person out of a job that they aren't capable of, no shortcuts.

The price of high performance - tension will exist, continually. Work at the cutting edge, everyone must hold each other accountable. Reactive tension focuses on how we feel and getting rid of bad feelings. Creative tension focuses on what we want to create, vision focus.

Team success - Strong visionary leadership, belief in the vision, clarity and authenticity.

Woosha's presentation was well received, particularly his highlight reel of big marks and bone-crunching shirtfronts.
John Worsfold, Keynote Presenter

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kudos to them .What fantastick work they do.The children are our future.Milly