The Prime Minister’s announcement of a White Paper into the Reform of the Federation has spurred a welcome increase in interest in Australia’s federal system. The effectiveness of the division of policy responsibilities, fiscal settings, intergovernmental relations and institutions will all go under the microscope. The first issues paper – A Federation for our Future – makes the case for our federal system, succinctly recounts its evolution since 1901 and sets out goals, principles and reform priorities. Four more issues papers will follow, with an education one canvassing early childhood, schooling and tertiary education expected later this year. (I can’t wait!)
Complementing this government process, the Australian National University’s Tax and Transfer Policy Institute at the Crawford School of Public Policy and the University of Melbourne’s School of Government organised Renewing Federalism – a series of articles in The Conversation and a public symposium on 2 October. I was honoured to participate in both components. My piece on schooling policy is here. Do check out the other articles too.
If you would like to attend the symposium, please see event details and RSVP here. A link to the recording of the symposium will soon be made available. (Photograph of one of Parliament House’s internal courtyards taken by myself in 2005).
We talk a lot about the importance of innovation in education – as we should. We talk less about how to foster, sustain and share successful innovations that enhance student learning and engagement. This is a pity. In this recent expert comment article for The Conversation, I discuss the astonishingly blunt and honest comments of Victoria’s education chief, outlining why the states rather than the Commonwealth government should drive education policy. It was encouraging to hear a very senior bureaucrat, who has worked at both state and federal levels, concur with my PhD findings on the opportunities our federal system of government offers for innovative and best-practice policy-making, tailored to the needs of their residents. Could this be the dawn of a new era in education federalism in Australia?
I also spoke recently on Radio National‘s Drive program on the controversial “IBM school” in Brooklyn, New York. I argue that such innovations, when developed carefully to meet the needs of students at a particular school, can work wonders. Dismissing them as “US-style corporate schools” is a missed opportunity to learn how new models of schooling can improve excellence and equity here in Australia.
The Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy is an independent think tank that works with researchers, governments, analysts and communities to improve the connection between evidence-based social research and public policy reform.
The Institute will put emergent policy issues at the heart of its research agenda and promote sustainable policy change that addresses some of Australia’s most challenging health and education issues.
Our first publication ‘New approaches to persistent problems in Australia’s schools’ outlines four bold propositions policymakers could pursue to enable and accelerate system-wide improvements to learning and equity. Downloaded it here.