When it opened in 1975 The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a bit of a flop, but then it rocketed to cult status and has never been off the screens since.
Rocky Horror is full of strange bits and bobs: literally in its props and costumes and otherwise in madcap humour, lashes of pop culture references and the behaviour of an assortment of loony sexually liberated characters. It seems to takes place in a vacuum divorced from both time and space and the conventions of cinema – a garish, swirling patchwork joyfully here and there.
While the findings are quite complex, the take-out message from a recent OECD study is:
On average, in the past 10 years there has been no appreciable improvement in student achievement in reading, mathematics or science in the countries that have invested heavily in information and communication technologies for education.
An OECD survey revealed that many Australian schools have Year 11 and 12 students who lack basic necessities, including housing and adequate nutrition, according to an AAP report last year in The Guardian.
Australia has almost as many schools with significant numbers of Year 11 and 12 students from disadvantaged backgrounds as Mexico.
An OECD study has found that many Australian schools have Year 11 and Year 12 students who lack basic necessities such as adequate housing, nutrition and medical care.
The latest OECD Teaching and Learning International Study – the world’s largest international survey on teaching and learning – says 66% of Australian upper secondary teachers work in schools where principals report that more than 10% of the students come from so-called “socio-economically disadvantaged homes”.
The figure puts Australia above Poland with 62%, almost on par with Mexico where the figure is 70%, and well above the average of 43% among countries surveyed.
In Norway, the figure is just 16%.
This has implications for resourcing:
“It is important to ensure that teachers in these schools are well equipped so that they can provide students with effective learning environments despite these potentially more challenging school environments that can be linked to having large numbers of students from socio-economically disadvantaged homes,” the report found.
I’ve lost contact with the progress of this matter, but can’t imagine that adequate resources are flowing to areas of need. Reading Julia Gillard’s book makes one realise how much she and Wayne Swan bent the system to squeeze out extra funding for schools while some $160 billion was found in budget savings across six budgets. That kind of commitment doesn’t exist in the LNP, probably not any longer in Labor either.
We should be concerned, however, that we live in a society where such levels of inequity exist. Wayne Swan in his book claims that inequality decreased in Australia on his watch. The data cited above stems from the end of his time. There is no prospect of improvement under Abbott.
I understand that out private school sector is the largest in the world. Part of our problem may be that we consolidate disadvantage in the public school sector.
The AAP/Guardian report was based on the analysis of data about upper secondary schooling from the 2013 OECD Teaching and Learning International Study (TALIS), published in December. Earlier a report relating to lower secondary schooling had been published, including a series of Country Notes, mainly about teachers and teaching.
In Australia teachers appear to be well qualified, with high job satisfaction, but the feeling of being under-appreciated. They seem to spend their day in much the same way as teachers elsewhere. My impression is that the get more professional development than the average, but it seems to be less effective.
41% of lower secondary teachers were men in Australia compared with 32% in TALIS countries. 61% of our principals are men compared within TALIS. Apparently we have the lowest proportion of women in the role of principal amongst the countries surveyed.