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A ‘new school’ system for the 21st century and beyond


Release Date: 20/11/2017

Educators, policymakers, parents and industry should work together to create a 21st century ‘New School’ system if the next generation is to be ready for further study, work and adult life, according to a new report issued by the state’s peak business organisation, the NSW Business Chamber.
 
The report, Old School/New School: Transforming school education for the 21st century, is the latest in the Chamber’s successful Thinking Business series.
 
“Our education system in NSW has long delivered quality outcomes for students and society as a whole. Here in the Hunter we have many great schools, training facilities, passionate and dedicated teachers, and parents who aspire to help their children succeed,” Hunter Business Chamber Chief Executive Officer, Bob Hawes said.
 
“While there’s much to praise in the ‘Old School’ system, however, we must act now to bring our schools into the 21st century. Otherwise, we risk leaving young people behind and our economy in jeopardy.
 
“Together with education influencers, policymakers, parents, the business community and young people, the Chamber has come up with a vision for the New School system of the 21st century,” Mr Hawes said.
 
The report describes exactly what a ‘New School’ system would look like:
 
·           Responsibility is shared by Government, educators, parents, students and industry;
·           Innovative ways of teaching and learning, as well as tried and tested approaches are implemented Australia-wide
·           Evidence informed practice is supported and educators access the knowledge they need to succeed;
·           Teachers are celebrated for their success, attracting the best and brightest;
·           Schools harness technology to facilitate a richer learning experience for students
·           Education is inclusive and all students have the opportunity to learn and succeed; and
·           Schools promote educational pathways that release the potential of all young people.
 
“The great thing was that everyone we spoke to acknowledged that while our NSW school system delivers quality outcomes for many, we can’t rest on our laurels. We must look at ways to transform our schools to meet the needs of society in the digital age.
 
“Young people were at the forefront of our discussions – as they should be in any conversation about school education.  We heard directly from them that students desire greater ownership and control over their learning experience, as well as help to experience and select the education and career pathway that matches their capabilities, passions and interests.
 
“A great example of an innovative program that provides a more tailored, experiential learning opportunity and direction for kids is the Big Picture initiative.  The non-profit Big Picture Program brings together schools, industry and students across many schools across Australia, with Newcastle High School as the flagship,” Mr Hawes said.
 
“Big Picture looks to help students achieve better outcomes at the end of their schooling through two ways of learning,” Big Picture Education Australia Managing Director Vivianne White said.
 
“First, we connect with students to help identify their passions. We know that kids learn more effectively when they’re interested in what they’re learning. Secondly, we work with industry to facilitate ‘out on the field’ experiential learning, where the students work two days a week with a mentor who is equally passionate about their interest area.
 
“Newcastle is a hub for innovation and we identified a real need to foster future leaders and entrepreneurs here through the program. So far, we have achieved great success with students developing start up businesses as well as entry into Newcastle University in key growth areas like engineering,” Ms White said.
 
“We see pockets of new thinking in our public and non-Government schools. What we need is a willingness to trial these approaches to scale, rather than limiting them to one or two schools,” Mr Hawes said.
 
The Report identifies six ideas to start building a ‘New school’ system now:
 
·         Pilot proven teaching and learning approaches to scale
·         Collect and publish data tracking student progress, performance and outcomes
·         Revamp the HSC to set all students on the right pathway to work
·         Recognise teachers and support their development through professional learning hubs, supported by an opt-in mentoring program
 
·         Ensure every child in every school can access support services, including comprehensive careers advice and targeted mentoring for high risk students and;
·         Integrate enterprise skills in curriculum and measure their attainment from Year 9 on.
 
“Transforming an entire school education system – one of the largest in the world - is a challenge that cannot be achieved overnight. There is no silver bullet.
 
“At the same time, there needs to be the political and community will to make rapid, incremental changes now, to set us on the pathway for the New School of the future. With the Federal Government soon to release the results of the ‘Gonski 2.0’ review, we have a perfect opportunity to start setting our education system on the path to change,” Mr Hawes said.
 
Further information on the NSW Business Chamber’s report and Old School/New School campaign can be found at www.oldschoolnewschool.com.au to put it into action,” Mr Hawes said.



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