The Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA) launched a policy manifesto for school education on 24 March, as a contribution to public debate in the lead up to the federal election.
The manifesto calls for a strengths-based approach over deficit-model thinking to improve education policy making. “Australia’s recent experience of whole-scale remote learning due to COVID-19 has created curiosity and expectation around the possibilities for re-shaping the way we deliver school education,” said AHISA’s CEO, Ms Beth Blackwood.
“The disruption of COVID-19 may have given us the opportunity to hit the reset button on schooling, but we also need to review and reset approaches to national policymaking in education to ensure support for the successful transformation of school education in Australia.” continued Blackwood.
“AHISA has been advocating since 2015 for policymakers to drop deficit-model thinking about schools and adopt a strengths-based model of policymaking,” said Ms Blackwood. “Over the last two-and-a-half years, our schools and teachers have conclusively demonstrated their amazing strengths. Now is the time to build on those strengths and accelerate the great work that schools are initiating for the benefit of their students.”
Ms Blackwood said that in recent years the federal government had made significant and welcome investment in resources to support teachers’ work with students and to assist their professional development.
AHISA’s policy manifesto offers six priority areas where a federal government can help to rapidly strengthen Australia’s school system using a strengths-based policy approach. These are: supporting the digital transformation of Australian education, up-skilling the teaching profession, re-establishing and strengthening students’ learning journeys, supporting student wellbeing, strengthening all levels of school leadership and engaging parents in their children’s education.
“We call on policymakers to seek ways to support and accelerate the progress schools have made in the face of extraordinarily difficult and uncertain conditions,” said Ms Blackwood. “By working with the profession, and building on the strengths of educators and schools, governments can support schools to rebuild and reshape learning pathways to help all students achieve their best possible futures,” said Ms Blackwood. “A strengths-based approach to policymaking is the best way of bringing together the expertise of educators and the resources of governments to realise a new vision for Australia’s school system.”