NSWSPC response to the My School Website

Sent to Professor Barry McGaw ACARA

The following statement arises from deliberations within the SPC in response to the launch of the My School website and in the understanding that the website will continue to be a feature of the education landscape in Australia for the foreseeable future.

While we continue to question the imperative for its establishment, we are prepared to work constructively with any initiative that seeks to provide accurate, meaningful and usable information to parents about the operation of our schools.  We set out a number of recommendations which we believe would make a positive contribution towards this goal.

The catalogue of concerns which professional educators, including the SPC, raised before the launch of the website has not diminished and has actually been reinforced by subsequent events.  Consequently, in framing our response and recommendations, we have attempted to set down some principles for the re-development of the website to ensure its effectiveness in communicating with parents in a way that does least harm to the community and to the education process.

This least-harm element is reflected in the framing of some of the recommendations in “if … then” terms: while we make our preferred position clear, we set out alternative recommendations that would, in our view, limit or reduce any negative consequences

As an over-riding principle to all of ACARA’s operation, SPC would wish to urge a far more open and consultative approach than has been evident to date, particularly in relation to its reporting functions.  Consultations with system authorities are essential, however consultation with those working directly in schools almost always results in better policy, more efficient processes, smoother implementation and a greater level of understanding and satisfaction overall.  While not unmindful of the sensitivities involved, SPC would be pleased to assist ACARA in any way that it can to ensure that ACARA’s curriculum and reporting functions proceed as smoothly as possible and in the best interests of our schools and their communities.

I am sending this document to you in advance of its release to our membership later this week.  There is a high level of interest in some of the issues that it raises, especially those that relate to the ICSEA and school comparisons.  I would be pleased to convey any responses you might wish to provide at the same time.

Jim McAlpine
President, NSW Secondary Principals’ Council (SPC)

15 March 2010

Download the full document which includes suggestions for

  1. The School Statement
  2. The NAPLAN Data
  3. The ICSEA and School Comparisons

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