The Grattan Institute’s report: Ending the lesson lottery
18 October 2022
The Australian Alliance of Associations in Education (AAAE) notes the recent release of the Grattan Institute’s report, Ending the lesson lottery: How to improve curriculum planning in schools, and its subsequent discussion in the media, including by Minister for Education, The Hon. Jason Clare MP. In this report, the Grattan Institute has focused on the ‘lottery’ in the lessons that students are being taught, however, as AAAE Board Member, Tim Warwick said: “urgent attention is required on the lottery in the conditions teachers face in how they plan these lessons, and the day-to-day support they receive with this important work”.
The discussion surrounding this Report, as well as similar initiatives in some states, has focused on “taking something off the plate of busy teachers”, Tim Warwick said, overlooking “the true nature of this important work by both teachers, and ideally, students”.
AAAE President, Dr John Nicholas Saunders said: “The Grattan Institute’s report highlights some compelling data about the challenges teachers face regarding planning for teaching and learning. While it is commendable that the Grattan Institute, the government, and others are exploring opportunities to make teachers’ workloads more manageable, developing a series of national lesson plans is not the answer. Creating context-specific, differentiated learning materials is a fundamental part of a teacher’s role. While this can begin with access to high-quality curriculum materials, including those already being provided by teaching associations, there is then critical work for teachers in terms of how they collaborate with their colleagues, scaffold and differentiate the learning for their students, and include their voice and context. On their own, these curriculum materials are likely to only further disempower and disengage our teachers and students.” AAAE advocates for an increase in individual and collaborative planning time for primary and secondary teachers.
The Grattan Institute’s report provides limited recommendations regarding the nature, quality and consistency of the day-to-day planning processes of teachers and schools or the supports that should be in place for this. AAAE believes that work to improve these processes and the supports provided is the priority and must address:
- the repeated interruptions to teachers’ planning time with other tasks and meetings, including review of whether the release time allocated is sufficient (something covered in the Grattan Institute’s previous report, Making Time for Great Teaching);
- the inconsistency across schools around collaborative planning, leading to considerable inefficiencies and variability in the curriculum being taught;
- the need to improve scaffolding and differentiation within lessons, especially to avoid the lowering of expectations; and
- the need to increase student voice and agency in curriculum planning, so to ensure lessons reflect students’ contexts, interests, and aspirations.
National education associations, including our members, have long been leaders in providing high-quality teaching materials, prepared by experts in their teaching discipline, to our teachers and schools. This has been under-appreciated and under-utilised by the education system. AAAE, as the peak national teacher association, and our member associations, would welcome the opportunity to collaborate to increase access and expand these materials across all schools. If curriculum materials are to be developed as part of this reform, then it is essential that national education associations, and the expertise within them, are central to this process.
Dr John Nicholas Saunders
Mr Tim Warwick