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What is the Gonski model for schools?

The recent Gonski report calls for a new model of school education. What might that look like, asks Geoff Masters in Teacher.

Following the Gonski Review’s recommendations, commentary has centred on existing and familiar school practices. Personalised student learning plans, phonics teaching, online classroom assessment tools, behaviour management, explicit teaching and the relationship between teaching general capabilities and teaching disciplinary knowledge have all been canvassed. None of this is new. Schools do these things every day.

Most teachers attempt to teach every student at an appropriate level, but they are constrained by a curriculum that ties what a student learns to their year level.

Gonski proposes to redefine how we set learning expectations in schools through a curriculum restructure presented, wherever possible, as a sequence of increasing proficiency levels in a subject rather than in year levels. This approach would recognise the different levels of attainment within a school year. Successful learning would be measured as the progress individuals make, whatever their starting points.

Individual learning plans and the abolition of year levels are impractical and unnecessary. But it is possible, when given the right tools, for teachers to determine each student’s level of attainment and ensure they are taught at an appropriate level.

Gonski’s proposed restructuring of the curriculum into ‘learning progressions’ with aligned assessment resources would be a major change in our approach to schooling. But it has the potential to support teachers’ current efforts to establish where individuals are in their learning, to meet students’ differing learning needs and to ensure that every student is appropriately challenged. On balance, it may be the change we need to lift performance in schools. ■

Read the full article:

‘Gonski’s model for schools’ by Geoff Masters in Teacher.

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