EDUCATION IN THE NT – Some 2016 Reflections

What is happening with Education

Some thoughts on NT Education as we move forward into the  future

 

Behaviour Management to become a priority

Behaviour Management has an aberration that continues to bug education in the Northern Territory. there is the “Malak Behaviour Management Unit” attached to Malak Primary School the tykes on notified primary students for behavioural management purposes. (However, anecdotally it is hard to get students into that unit and the time stay can be relatively short).

The Department is planning to have units attached to education in the regional centres.

It will be good if this works and if it does, that will be a first. There has been talk in past times but programs have generally worked less than well.

Special Education’s Fillip – Thanks to Gonski

Special Education otherwise is being given special emphasis through facilities and infrastructure improvements. In Darwin the new Nemarluk and Henbury Avenue schools are looking after students with special needs. This does not include behaviour management. (However, the admission of students depends on evermore stringent criteria, meaning that students who were special needs identified a decade ago May no longer qualify for entry. The Intelligence quotient used to be around 80; these days it is down to 70. Another problem about the schools are attitudes of parents and family members who believe that it to enrol students is somehow denigrating, bringing the notion of “family shame”. If parents cannot be persuaded to wards special school in roll meant for eligible children, ordinary schools have to enrol them in mainstream programs. While the schools may be supported by Special Education School Assistants a great deal of stress and strain is placed on classroom teachers and students. I disproportionate amount of teacher time goes into trying to manage these children. Quite often special needs children who are mainstream and I given “holding” activities which may be for them quite frustrating. There is a lot to be said for special schools.parents and educators need to be more aware of what is on offer in these schools.)

Special Education is been given attention through the construction of a special school costing $21 million in Roseberry. Acacia Hills in Alice Springs, special School is getting a significant upgrade.

Behaviour Management is identified as a real need in areas outside Darwin. There is a unit for special needs students in Palmerston attaching to the Hi School.

The intention is for behaviour management to be better accommodated in Tenant Creek and also in Alice Springs.

Tennant Creek Modifications and program changes

There is a significant issue around operations at Tenant Creek Primary School. The student profile is not good and they seem to be well-being issues. The Hi School on the other hand is operating successfully. With that in mind, there is a plan to move year four and five students from the primary school to the high school campus. That would leave the primary school catering for transition to year four students.

The second Primary School in Tenant Creek, Karguru, is being returned to the Education Department. it will how’s senior classes of alternative students are presently are challenging at the high school. It’s also going to be a resource Centre for the region.

Contracts for Barkly Remote Principals

In the interests of eliciting performance, there is a move towards principals in charge of smaller schools in the Barkly Region being offered contracts rather than being appointed permanently. It will be interesting to see whether this gets off the ground. It could also be a phenomena that takes off in other regions of the territory.

The Executive Group of the department is spending more time around the regions and identifying with schools. In recent days the groups second visit to the Barkly took place of the year. Some went east and West others north and south.

Without the shadow of a doubt, NAPLAN results continue to ingrain the system. There are other testing batteries as well that seem to be predominately within education. Looking at results of being data driven is all well and good; however it ought not to destroy holistic education as a motivator and driving force.

Global Budgeting

it seems there are plenty of schools with pretty healthy bank balances. This being the case, some schools are discovering that with these they are able to fund extra teachers all staff positions if student enrolments increase. The self-realisation has come up on the school principals that if they need staffing increases, it is an area for them to look after rather than coming back on the department for support. This becomes an area of independent self-management.

(By the same token and it is important for schools to hang on to an amount of money that can be used for contingency purposes if necessary. While “special circumstances” funding can be available there is a fairly long wait on whether or not claims are made good. There are principles on this particular committee who may be more critical than others with evaluation of claims.

Seemingly, balances that are held in trust for schools are now being cashed out to schools at the end of each year. Unspent funds are not being returned to Consolidated revenue.
(I wonder whether this will encourage schools to skip a little when it comes the staffing or resource spending in order to build up cash reserves. Then the juxtaposition may be that with those extra monies, schools are required to spend before further support.)

Professional Development

Something has certainly improved on funding contexts then my ones have been the case. Either that, or school priorities have changed. More and more schools seem to be funding consultants to visit (with costs shared between a number of schools). People within schools are also going off spending time intra territory, interstate or overseas on study missions to take best practice into account. These visitations cost money.

Competition

The Department of Education certainly seems to see its self being in competition with private schools for student share.

Pastoral care and marketing are strong points for private sector schools. The percentage of coverage for government schools in media is far less. However, that trend may be turning a little. Principals and school councils need to be embolded when it comes to media attention.

Building and Construction Focus

In building and construction terms I think the industry is doing very very well. Nowhere is this more apparent than on multiple school premises in Darwin, Palmerston, and around the Northern Territory. It seems that every school has building or renovation of some kind happening.

The government put this into place because it wanted to support a flagging building and construction industry. This is in terms of both new work a major renovation. It’s not all that many years ago that no way no one would schools have gotten the building considerations that have been unfolding for the last several years. The closer with gotten to the election, seemingly, the more prolific and frequent these works have become. This seems to be a hardly school anywhere where something is not happening.

The timing is not necessarily right from the viewpoint of student and program facilitation. People have to work around what’s going on and will make do because I have to.

The sad thing about all this is the money that is needed to support programs in classrooms does not have a high priority. Governments are not able to look and see and boast about what they’ve done unless there are physical facilities that substantiate the claims.

Notwithstanding the rapid pace of constructions growth, it’s not an end! Labour has promised that if they win the election $300,000 will be given to each school for capital developments.

While always facilities are wonderful the people teacher in the face and the need for staff in terms of both training and support seems to go begging.

Edifices a wonderful bit more important are the program is happening with them.

With construction this off on the corollary. It’s the building tends to focus on staff facilities of ministration rather than classrooms and refinements necessary for teachers and students and working situations.

The fact that the Northern Territory Government received a lot of money from the Commonwealth that was “Gonski-like” but without strings attached, means that that money has been used for facilities construction particularly in the field of Special Education.

This may well have been needed. However, the “spirit of Gonski” has not been acknowledged by the way priorities on this money has been sent. There is no secret about the expenditure. The Government in Department quite openly talk about the facilities are have been and are being constructed.

Part of the justification for what’s happened is the principles in school councils can cope with staffing needs because of global budgeting. This assumption is it the money on the wherewithal is there to manage staff is necessary, including staff increases.

It will be interesting to see where indication in our schools goes in the near to mid future. We are told that the Department of Education is streamlined and functioning smoothly. That other departments I no way in there as well situated when it comes to operations.

As with the election of most government there are changes mooted within departments with some departments being collapsed and some turning into super departments. I certainly hope that doesn’t happen with Education! We’ve had a super department in past times. Education has been “employment, education and training”. It’s also been the “Department of Education and Children’s Services”. I believe the department should be the “Department of Education” as it was before becoming superstructural and as it’s been reinstated in the not-too-distant past.

Leaving well alone is wise but often not done. I’m imagining that if the Department of Education does change that one of the initial costs (and this is ad nauseum) will be yet another excursion into the land of rebadging, logo changing, and carrying on with other identifications the costs hundreds and thousands of dollars to implement.

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