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The Forum > Article Comments > Why schools need more than a business plan > Comments

Why schools need more than a business plan : Comments

By Catherine Doherty, published 17/8/2010

Education markets are not the same as commodity markets. A 'good' school cannot indefinitely increase 'production'.

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As a teacher who has recently left the profession of teaching I read your article with great interest. I taught in idependent schools for the last 5 years of my career and found an increasingly corporate mentality to the way the schools were managed and lead.

This developed a 'client/provider' culture where students were the client (to be provided with a UAI of 99 with little or no work) and I as the teacher had to provide this. If the student did not perform at this level, the teacher, or the school was somehow at fault.

For example my experiences as a Head of Science at an independent school. The leadership wanted to set up an accelerated class. I constructed the class using a years worth of assessment data. On the second day of the school year that this class began, I got a phone call from a parent asking why his child was not in the advanced class. When he did not get satisfaction from me (as the head of the faculty!) he phoned the principal. The next day an email arrived for me from the deputy principal asking if two advanced classes could be made as this parent had threatened to remove his child from the school.

This situation shows that money and 'perception' were more important than the educational outcomes of students.

The point here is that schools have limited time to concentrate on the business of education. This is one of the main reasons I left the profession in disgust. Increasingly the educational outcomes have become diluted in the chase for bigger and better experiences of students. Education should be about educating our students 'not providing an experience'. Furthermore principals need to start seeing their staff (teaching and support staff) as more than just resources and become more humanistic in their management and leadership practices. If a school focuses on the task of educating, the 'carpark mafia' (word of mouth) then students will come.

I thank you for your article and hope that it gives those in the industry pause for thought and reflection.
Posted by TVaddict99, Tuesday, 17 August 2010 5:13:35 PM
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I am not a teacher just a parent with three children in the government system. On the whole i think that teachers do a brilliant job under difficult conditions. Try putting some 22+ children with differing levels of development and learning problems in one room and teach them. Not me, i have to respect the patience and effort required to do this.

Having said this the continuing political interference by government and parents that can not accept that their little johnny is not the sharpest tool in the shed only makes matters worse. The corporate influence that has engulfed education could have been good had it been handled in the right way. I have experienced principles that should not be running schools. They have no business ability and make a meal of the situation. Education of students though must be based on teaching opinion and assessment without the influence of business.

I get why teachers don't like the hire and fire system to be principle based but i feel they are some what miss informed. Elite schools will skim the best but what is new. A young teacher could take a position in a country or disadvantaged school then do something great and show they have what is needed. It would also put pressure on teachers that take their positions for granted and have average performance in a job they have been doing far to long in the same school.

Yes it is complicated but accountability and performance does need to be more transparent on all sides of education.
Posted by nairbe, Tuesday, 17 August 2010 7:14:06 PM
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"Schooling is a mass institution that underpins our economic competitiveness, national identity, and civil society."

True.

So what do we have.

We have a maths and science crisis, a large % of the population that are illiterate, and about 600,000 that are unemployed.

We also have a huge trade deficit, and we have schools that import almost everything they use, which teachers the students to import almost everything they use.

We also have a limited budget, unless taxes are increased, while many people are already having problems paying their mortgage to keep a roof over their heads.

What are the schools doing about it?

Not much.
Posted by vanna, Tuesday, 17 August 2010 8:28:07 PM
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Schools could be developing and market productive business plans. Schools or education management in Vic and NSW are different to in Queensland. From first hand experience making live presentations to over 100,000 students in more than 500 NSW and Vic schools it is apparent a good headmaster is what makes a good school. Likewise I think a good government can mean good headmasters.

Between states there is quite a difference. In NSW a director of education can state a project has exceptional potential in educational use but in Qld the same project can be reviewed as having nothing new.

Rebuff in Qld schools actually happened with an early 1980ís project bringing forward evidence entire world ocean fish stocks were becoming depleted with malnutrition amongst seafood dependent Pacific islanders. Now world fish devastation is relatively well accepted, even though no-one has been able to count fish and collect all the data.

Politics and jealousy seems to be a problem. Some teachers and principals seem to think new information can be found through newspapers, but in reality newspapers are boycotting new information of substance. Subsequently new information is now being picked up by scientists and educators via Internet overseas.

For example of closed door education, consider the following information published in one country, and recent supporting evidence from another, not from Aus media. To my knowledge the first indication of algae warming the ocean came from that early 1980ís ocean project R&D in Australia. See:

http://www.solomontimes.com/letter.aspx?show=1969

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/08/15/plankton-cause-hurricanes-urgent-action-required/

Students like interesting studies but do teachers? Is it best to stay with reding riting and rithmatic, or is there need to make school interesting, challenging, rewarding? In reality, information of substance published or not, relevant solutions could be suited to numerous business plans to generate employment and prosperity and peace.
Posted by JF Aus, Tuesday, 17 August 2010 10:11:31 PM
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There are a few grammatical errors in my previous post. Tired. Sorry.
Posted by JF Aus, Tuesday, 17 August 2010 10:19:20 PM
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No one argues that education could not be better. The de politicisation of education with an independent commission running and setting the agenda for national standards would be a suggestion.

Administratively schools could be run much more efficiently with stronger business principles employed, but under no circumstances could i support the idea that education could or should be used or driven as some kind of free market meat shop of children to fit job needs. Children need a proper education, one that teaches them to think independently with strongly rooted values in basic education. English, maths, science and history enough trying to mould them to fit a job, we are now teaching 13 year olds to prepare for a specific job when a 13 year old doesn't know if they are up or down yet. leave the kids alone to be kids, learn and develop as they will then start training for careers between 18 and 25 when one begins to develop an understanding of themselves. surely with the retirement age going out to 67, 42 years in a career is enough to build a retirement and do your duty for your country. Those few years extra to just play and be kids while they can, are not going to cripple the nation and just might help develop a happier and more balanced work force.

A gap year should be required and pre uni offered for those that did not take HSC seriously enough. Options must be available to take up a career when they wish not made feel guilty they had not planned their life when they were in preschool.
Posted by nairbe, Wednesday, 18 August 2010 7:52:20 AM
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