Behavioural issues in schools are very real. In many schools, teachers spend as much time on matters of discipline and student control as they do on teaching. Poor behaviour of the few, deprive many students of learning opportunities. It is one of the reasons parents enrol their children in private schools.

More education money needs to be spent on teaching and learning needs and less on building and infrastructure. Facilities are being oversupplied while educational programs are being stretched. Expenditure balance is needed.

All the very best to our NT students and teachers for the upcoming school holiday. Your learning responsibility and teaching efforts earn the appreciation of parents and community. Have a great break; you deserve it.



Over the years I have on many occasions been told by principals and other educators that they do not read the paper or follow the popular news. They consider media, particularly it seems print media, to be biased against them and interested only in reporting negatives and downsides. That being the case, their predisposition is to shy away from reading or understanding what is being said and written about education.

Regardless of personal preference, it is to the detriment of school leaders and teachers if they do not know how education is being reported in the media. Without knowledge and awareness, repudiation and the expression of counterviewpoints is impossible.

I’m giving a shout out for the Aust Education Union (NT) but not the other representative associations.

Along with principals and teachers, it is important that their representative professional associations are in the business of knowing what is being written and said about members. Through their executives, they need to speak up in a representative context, participating in conversations and debates about issues. To shy away from this responsibility and cocoon against what is being raised in the public domain, is anathema.

Be bold, be representative and speak up!

Enjoy the school holidays

Today marks the beginning of the three week school holiday period separating Semester‘s one and two in the Northern Territory.

Significant periods of school holidays will be starting the children and teachers in schools elsewhere around Australia, either this weekend or next.

As a retired teacher I want to wish everyone all the very best for a happy, relaxed period of time away from the school.

These days, teachers particularly on students as well her off and on the receiving end of criticism. This can be for perceived lack of application and effort. It adds to the fact that we become a profession that takes on board criticism and also self reflects, where the reflections and thoughts are often negative.

It is important that educators take time to consider things that they have done well, outcomes of benefit students, the system and of course themselves! Self-congratulation is important.

Of course taking account of things that could be done differently and better is a part and parcel of self evaluation. However overlooking those things that have been done well means that reflection is one-sided. It needs to be balanced.

My suggestion is to periodically about and maybe note down those things that have been done well in order to balance the perceptual ledger. There is much more to education and our contributions than negatives.

I also suggest that educators think about the contributions of peers and associates, where their contributions have been a personal benefit or assistance to others. Touching base by text or card, phone call or message “thank you” in appreciation during downtime could well boost them as well as satisfying you for having recognised their contribution.


I acknowledge Colin Wicking’s cartoon on the subject. He is the pre-eminent cartoonist with the NT News.

And the issue IS easily fixed. It is only an issue because policy pertaining to mobile phones in schools has either not been developed or if in place, often not enforced.

So ‘pushing the envelope’ because of ‘accomodation’ has been the outcome.


As a long-term Northern Territory resident and a contributor to education pre-retirement for 36 years (and post retirement in various capacities for eight years since) I am often asked for an opinion or comment on various issues. These matters have had to do with general territory living, with education and with matters relating to more rural and remote areas of the territory (where we worked for quite a number of years before coming to Darwin).

One of the things I find bemusing is that while people are quite willing to ask for input, if that input is provided, there is rarely if any feedback on outcomes nor the benefit of that advice may have offered.

That’s not a case of asking over and over for thanks. It is however a case of being appreciated and people knowing that you’re interested in the outcomes of the conversations or meetings, where advice given has been a part of the discussion.

Is this a case of being appreciated or simply used?

In 2017 and 2018 there was wide ranging discussion on School Based Policing and the need for it to be returned as a program in Northern Territory schools. This is a subject in which I’ve been deeply interested for many years both from the viewpoint of being a practitioner and a student who wrote on the subject during a Masters university course.

Following quite intense conversations between the government, the Northern Territory Police, the Council of Government Schools Organisation and others the program has been reinstated and guidelines developed for its re-introduction.

I did receive verbal thanks from COGSO.

What crystallised my thoughts on this topic was receiving an email copy of the reinstated guidelines from Thomas Moorhead who is advisor to the Leader of the Opposition Gary Higgins, in the Northern Territory Parliament. I really appreciated sent these guidelines and reflected upon just how rare it is to receive follow up and feedback from those to whom assistance has been provided.

Responses of this nature are, unfortunately, all too rare these days. For the provider of input the process has a beginning (request for support) middle (assumption of the negotiations that follow) but no ending.

This is unfortunately a modern day trend that should be recognised and put to rights. However, I doubt that there will be any change.



This column was published in the NT Suns Newspapers on June 25 2019 under the title ‘Program plan a smart move’.

This was my final column for the Sun as it will no longer be printed. It has departed from the Northern Territory News stable.

I will continue to publish on my blog.

The NT Government’s reinstatement of the school based policing program is one of its smartest decisions. This is proof positive that governments are sometimes prepared to accept that not all decisions made, generate the best outcomes.

The School Based Policing program, introduced in the 1980’s, was a ‘top drawer’ initiative. Attached to high schools, each School Based Constable (SBC) had a number of feeder primary schools he or she attended. Constables would visit their schools to conduct Drug and Alcohol Education classes with children. They extended their role to include ‘stranger danger’ awareness and issues such as bullying.

The axing of the school based policing program from Territory schools was one of the worst decisions ever made. Judith Aisthorpe was absolutely right in reporting that when introduced to NT Schools in the 1980’s, “the program was heralded a success and adopted worldwide … the program in its original state was beneficial as it stopped crime and anti-social behaviour before it happened”. (Back to school for cops, NT News, 28/5/2018).

The dismantling of the School Based Policing program with the substitution of police station based ‘Youth Engagement Officers’, was tokenistic. As was forecast to happen, school programs lapsed, along with the contribution SBC’s made to the sharing of children’s learning and the development of positive attitudes. The absence of School Based Constables left a big hole in school support programs.

Fast forward twelve months, and Ms Aisthorpe has been able to write about the program in a far happier context. “The (reinstated) school based police program has been largely hailed as a success … schools, police officers and students (want) to see the program continue …” (School police praised but role ‘needs clarity’ NT News 15 June 2019).

Dripstone Middle School Principal Robyn Thorpe encapsulated positives of the program. “Being on site means (constables) can build positive relationships with students … staff and … community … that puts police in a positive frame rather than police being called in for negative reasons.” (Op cit). Senior Constable Dan Bull upheld the program for helping “… students deal with issues and problem solve hurdles they may have in the future.” (Op cit).

There is a need to train police to work with students. However, that may simply require the police training unit to dust off and reinstate the carefully designed training programs that were in place before the program was discontinued. There is no need to reinvent but simply revisit what was a part of the training regime. It is to be hoped the program regrows to include all NT schools.



Thank you to those many people who have read my column and offered me feedback during the past six years. Sharing contemporary educational issues with you has been my pleasure. You are always welcome to access my blog ‘Education a life force’ at


Ash Barty is a credit to tennis and a shining example to all young (and not so young) people.

She deserves all the accolades she is earning. BUT

What I don’t like is that universities all over Australia will now be pushing each other out of the way to award her honorary doctorates.Honorary academics qualifications should never be awarded to those who haven’t earned them.

Adam Goodes is an example. He has justifiable earned recognition including Australian of the Year. He also has 3 honorary doctorates. For non academic prowess. WRONG.

As are the honorary doctorates that have been given to many other sportspeople, both indigenous and non-indigenous. The list of honorary doctorate holders ion the sporting domain is mind-boggling. Check it on Google.

Honorary doctorates trivialise tertiary education. Handing them out willy-nilly to sportspeople, politicans, retired defence personnel and others who may have made an occupational mark, discounts those who work hard and study for years to earn PhD’s and other academic doctorates. To add to the slight on genuine doctorate earners, graduation ceremonies offer accolades to honorary awardees while genuine doctorates earners are left to sit and hear from those being so honoured.





The Sun Newspaper was launched as a community newspaper supported by the NT News in on July 4 2019. Initially it was published under three mastheads for Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield. Columns were common to all three editions, with some content local to each area being introduced into the editorial space. It was later that the three mastheads became one. And later still when the Sun was continued as a stand alone paper and also added as an insert into Tuesday’s edition of the NT News. There’s variations aside, the community newspaper, which had morphed from earlier versions, has been a feature of both print and later print and online news over the intervening years.

Until today.

I had been invited to write a column relating to education for the newspaper. My first column was published on July 4 2013. Since that time, I have written a weekly column on matters of an educational until today.

Today June 25 2019, was the last edition of the Suns Newspaper. Cessation is on the day my column marks six years of weekly writing for each of the 48 weeks of yearly Suns publication. So I got close to by 300th column but never quite made that anniversary.

Post retirement, I am glad I had this sharing opportunity.

Education Goes On

I ended my final column ( a happy one on the positives of our Government and the relevant departments reinstating School Based Policing) with the following postscript.

“Thank you to those many people who have read my column and offered me feedback during the past six years. Sharing contemporary educational issues with you has been my pleasure. You are always welcome to access my blog “Education a Life Force” at

Newspapers evolve and change, often quite rapidly in this digital age. However, there is a place for print and for the sharing of local issues that go to policy and organisational prescription. That is what an appreciation of education in an ongoing and contemporary context should be about.

Naturally I am sad that the Sun has gone down. I will look to continuing my work in terms of educational commentary in other ways and through other forums.

My final point is to clear any misconception about my status as a Suns columnist. My contributions have been voluntary and not associated with any payment. My column has been a way of giving back for the advice and help I have received and the support I have been given as an educator over the years.



Kylie Lang’s column in the NT ‘Sunday Territorian’ today is spot on.

Bullying behaviour is so often learned at home. It is parents and caregivers who teach their children about the subject.

I’ve highlighted a couple of her comments. It will resonate with many teachers and school leaders. It is one of the best and most telling columns written in a long time.


This was posted by a teacher in Brisbane on a Facebook page. An excerpt is posted on my Linked In account and in it I made reference to the full text from this alarmed and dispirited professional educator. It is below in italics. It is reproduced without editing.

It is NOT true of all classes and all schools. But it IS an issue. An issue likely to mushroom as and if schools focus on the theory of organisational structure and let the issues of the moment, the classroom context and let slide the application of overall school behavioural management policies. These policies might be sets of nice documents and pretty words but without action they are useless verbage.

2 weeks ago I was sexually assaulted and verbally abused by a student in one of my classes. Supposedly none of the other students saw the sexual assault, but did recall some of the tirade that I also endured. As management could not find “proof” of the assault the student will be coming back to school next week.

Since the incident 3 of his friends in class have not held back from their verbal abuse of me in every class, always getting off with a slap on the wrist from admin. Its meant to result in suspension.

Today one of them physically threatened me and I had to send an emergency red card to the office for help, again. A dean is meant to arrive asap. It took 25mins.

The classroom behaviour is constantly escalating from this group.

Theres one more week of term. Despite the fact that I genuinely need the money to get through the holidays, and don’t want my reputation as a teacher smeared in future contracts within the department, I’m seriously considering not going back. My anxiety and stress is through the roof.

I’ll be at another school next term, a private school this time. I am forever swearing off working anywhere near my current school again and I feel so bad for the good students there having to condtantly endure the crap that they do when admin dont back up their own behavior guidelines.

This is a plaintive cry for help and support. It is echoed in far too many schools and far too many classrooms. It is a growing issue and one that is clouding the purpose and the essence of education.