The Teachers Are Blowing Their Whistles!


The Queensland Curriculum.

We need a root-and-branch renewal of education in Australia.

Kevin Donnelly has rightly attributed the fall in results in maths and science, based on the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMSS)  study, to those managing Australia's education system.

He highlighted as contributors to this decline -

 *  the dumbing down of the curriculum,

 *  educational fads such as inquiry learning,

 *  teachers as 'facilitators'

 *  and education departments drowning teachers in red tape.

Many of these issues would resonate with teachers.

Interestingly, Australia copied many of these teaching approaches from the US, which has now dumped them, and whose students are now achieving better results than their Australian counterparts.

Moreover, the fact our classrooms were rated across all OECD countires as the most disruptive because of badly behaved students, it comes as no surprise that our TIMSS results are mediocre.

Donnelly's call for a root-and-branch renewal of education would be welcomed by many in the educational field.

Many believe any renewal of the education system should involve adapting -

 *  a more robust an challenging curriculum,

 *  inorporating core learnings delivered more explicitly,

 *  better qualified teachers,

 *  enhanced school-based decision-making

 *  and support strategies to  minimise disruptive student behaviour.

John Quinn, Manly, Ailing education system must undergo a renewal, Letter to the Editor, P. 56, The Courier-Mail, 3 December 2016

Former primary teacher : Let Queensland primary school teachers teach the subjects that matter. Deal with the social issues at home.

As a former primary teacher, I think that as a start the Curriculum needs to be trimmed.

Whenever there is a "social problem" arising, then the answer is to teach it in school.

I have witnessed a lot of changes to the education system over the past 40 years and a lot of the changes have not been for the better.

If something works, then is there really a need to change it?

The idea that every child is a winner isn't true and I suspect that the children who really struggle do not get the attention that they need and at the other end of the scale, the brighter children do not get the attention they deserve.

Get rid of the social issues that should be taken care of at home and let the teachers, particularly at primary school, teach the subjects that matter, giving the children the solid grounding they require.

Just throwing more money at the problem is not the answer.

David, Reader's Comment, Reader's Comment, Modern teaching methods not working in a system infused with Leftist ideology, Rowan Dean, The Courier-Mail, 5 December 2016

Queensland politicians keep fiddling with the curriculum.

The Queensland education system is in about its fifth or sixth curriculum change in 30 years.

Every time a teacher gets their head around a new curriculum, another one is released.

And each iteration of the curriculum is worse than the last.

Add to this that education is tied to funding.

Funding is tied to results.

And results are tied to one comparative assessment ... NAPLAN.

Which means nothing.

Anyone thinking that NAPLAN means anything more than funding needs to do some research.

And every change of government means a change of policy ... you get the picture.

Take politicians and politics out of education.

Craig, Reader's Comment, Queensland teacher shortage : Government launches professional development program to boost skills, Lauren Martyn-Jones, The Courier-Mail, 4 June 2016

Not only are there changes to the curriculum with monotonous regularity, but also with each change a huge amount of money has to be spent on the accompanying resources and in-service.

Then a similar amount of money is spent on the next change.

The waste is ridiculous.

Barry, Reader's Comment, Queensland teacher shortage : Government launches professional development program to boost skills, Lauren Martyn-Jones, The Courier-Mail, 4 June 2016

The main problem is the constant changing and dumbing down of the syllabus - and including every Tom, Dick and Harry's 'bright' ideas so there is no time to teach anything properly.

This is what has done the main damage.

Then there is the endless meaningless paperwork.

And people wonder why the whole system is going backwards at an ever increasing rate!

Barry,  Reader's Comment, Queensland teacher shortage : Government launches professional development program to boost skills, Lauren Martyn-Jones, The Courier-Mail, 4 June 2016

The Queensland Year 12 exams need to be externally assessed. The "moderation"process is not working.

The decision to introduce a new external assessment component into Queensland's Year 12 examinations is welcome and long overdue.

Parents had lost faith in the whole process.

There was considerable evidence that some schools were gaming the system.

Teachers gathered at moderation meetings where their marks for a single piece of work could range from 40 per cent to 75 per cent.

Universities sat by passively.

The current Queensland curriculum authority, and especially its predecessors, have run a dubious moderation system.

They also delegated to schools the power to make a value judgement as to whether any weightings should be given to certain students in the name of equity, while forcing the bulk of the student population into normal curves which discriminated against gifted and talented students as well.


The government is considering running the new external assessment online.

Robina Cosser comments : Considering the problems with the 2016 census (etc.), this would seem to be putting the welfare of thousands of Queensland students at considerable risk.


In-school senior assessment still needs more examination, Kenneth Wiltshire, p. 20-21, The Weekend Australian, 8 September 2015.

Experienced teacher Kathy Margolis : In my teaching career I have never seen so many children suffering from stress and anxiety.

... The curriculum is so overcrowded.

Prep teachers who used to run lovely play based programs (which might I add work beautifully) are teaching children sight words and how to read and write alongside subjects like history and geography.

As a teacher and mother of three sons, this scares the proverbial out of me.

We all know that boys this age need to be moving around doing things that interest them, not sitting at desks.

And what about the notion of readiness?

I fear those little ones who are not ready are going to be left behind.

And here's the problem with our crowded curriculum.

There is not enough time to consolidate the basics.

Every teacher on this earth will tell you that the early years should be about the three R's.

My own children went off to Year One after having had a lovely, enriching play based year of learning back in the days of pre-school.

They didn't know any sight words; they could write maybe a few letters and guess what?

They learnt to read and write without being pushed at such an early age. 

In my teaching career I have never seen so many children suffering from stress and anxiety.

It saddens me greatly. 

Teaching at the moment is data-driven.

We are testing them and assessing them and pushing them so hard.

I get that teachers need to be accountable and of course we need assessment but teachers have an innate ability to know what kids need. 

A lot of it is data for data's sake.\Don't even get me started on Naplan.\Teachers wouldn't have a problem with Naplan if it wasn't made out to be such a big deal by the powers that be, the press and parents.

It has turned into something bigger than Ben Hur. ...



Kathy Margolis's post on her facebook page.

Experienced teacher : Education Queensland is a political entity. Their priority is NOT education.

I've been teaching in the public school system 16 years (still a current teacher) and I've worked in primary and secondary settings.

Kathy Margolis is correct about the curriculum and the constantly changing Queensland assessment and curriculum authorities, formerly QSA and now QCAA (before that in early 2000's it was QSSS or something), completely ridiculous and financially wasteful.

Of course the real issue is that Education Queensland is a political entity, so their first priority is accountability to the politicians of the day, ie; via NAPLAN and other rubbish standardised assessments.

The priority is NOT education despite the talking of the talk by EQ's spin doctors.



MaryJane, Reader's Comment, Editorial : Give teachers the power to design lessons to suit individual classrooms : The Courier-Mail 6 February 2016

Queensland's maths and science students are bottom of the class.

An analysis of Year 12 students coming to the University of New South Wales Canberra by UNSW Canberra researcher Professor John Arnold found that the average mark for -

a Queensland student in maths was 57

an ACT student in maths was 64

a Tasmanian student in maths was 69

a South Australian student in maths was 71

a Northern Territory student in maths was 71

"It's quite clear that Queenslanders are coming to UNSW Canberra much less prepared for subjects like maths and physics than any other state or territory in Australia," Prof Arnold said.

"There's something going on in the curriculum or assessment space, I think, that is causing Queensland students to be not as prepared."

The study results, collected over seven years, showed that Queensland students also faced challenges in physics, with the average mark sitting at 59.7.

Every other state had an average of 63 or higher.

"We are really trying to see whether we can work with educational experts in Queensland to identify what the problem is," Prof Arnold said.



State's Year 12s bottom of class, Brittany Vonow, P. 25, The Courier-Mail, 3 September 2015

For the past 20 years our education system has been sabotaged by pedagogy fads and fancies.

Pedagogy fads and fancies have passed as an education for the last twenty or more years.

Teachers who tried to teach knowledge of facts to the children ( as well as the more creative pursuits) were derided as dinosaurs who were 'not open to change'.

Now we have people teaching our children who lack all knowledge of basic spelling and grammar, and their lack of general knowledge is horrifying.


Barry, Reader's Comment, Queensland teaching graduates heading to UK after failing to land job locally, Brittany Vonow, The Courier-Mail, 29 December 2014

Ex-teacher :  Teachers following brainless 'philosophies' were being hailed as visionaries. I had to get out.

I actually got out of teaching because you could see the writing on the wall.

I was berated as a dinosaur when I spoke out against child-centred learning and the abandoning of proven traditional teaching methods, especially in the teaching of reading.

The final straw for me was when a colleague announced one day at a staff meeting that she had not taught maths for months and that the children would ask when they wanted to learn.

Simplistically she stated : her whole day was based on what the children wanted to do.

Another stated she never corrected the children's written work unless the child asked why their writing looked different.

Both teachers were hailed as visionaries.

Have we dumbed down our education system?

You bet we have.


KEVIN, Reader's comment, Hands up if you think we dumb down, Dr Kevin Donnelly, The Herald Sun, 5 August 2015

The Queensland maths curriculum has "been hijacked by education theorists who have no idea what is going on".

Eminent maths, science and education professors are concerned that under-qualified teachers, "student led" pedagogy and assignment-based assessment methods are rendering a generation of Australian children innumerate.

Scientist Jennifer Stow is a former Harvard University researcher with a PhD from Monash University and a post-doctoral degree from Yale.

Stow teaches science to undergraduates and trains PhD students at the University of Queensland Institute for Molecular Bio-science.

Stow is "flabbergasted" by what she views as substandard skills in maths and English among many Australian undergraduates.

Foreign PhD science students outnumber the locals in her field, she says, because Australian students are so far behind in maths.

"A  lot of them haven't learned the times tables at school, they haven't been drilled in spelling and they come to university not being able to do division."

"There are lots of international students at university now, and kids from places like Singapore have got much better reading, writing and maths skills than the Australian kids."

Stow believes that Australian high school students are getting "dumber by the minute".

The latest results from the OECD's Program for International Student Assessment reveal that Australia's maths performance in Year 10 fell by the equivalent of six months of schooling between 2003 and 2012.

One-fifth of Australian students were ranked among the poorest performers in maths, in contrast to 3.8 per cent of Chinese students.

"There needs to be rote learning, memorisation and mental arithmetic so it becomes automatic. The fashion for the past 20 years has been very much against memorisation and we need to bring that back," says education expert Kevin Donnelly.

But thousands of Australian students are being taught maths by teachers who specialised in humanities subjects at university.

"At high school the person teaching physics is more likely to be a physical education teacher than someone qualified to teach science", notes James Cook University professor Peter Ridd. 

Four times more phys-ed teachers graduated from Queensland universities than maths teachers in 2012 - and Queensland already has an oversupply of phys-ed teachers.

Ridd is highly critical of Queensland's controversial assessment methods for high school maths.

While other states and territories rely on regular external testing of kids' maths ability, Queensland high schools set a series of written assignments that can be 10,000 words long.

"We (scientists) want someone who can solve an equation and add fractions," Ridd says.

"The Queensland curriculum and Assessment Authority wants someone who can write an essay. ... The subject has been hijacked by education theorists who have no idea what's going on."

"It's as if they've done a mathematical appreciation course," says Matthew Dean, a researcher and former first-year lecturer at the University of Queensland school of mathematics and physics.

"They know of things but don't have the skill to do it themselves."


Counting the cost of national maths failure, Natasha Bita, P. 17, The Weekend Australian, 6-7 December 2014.

Australian teachers can't teach grammar because they have not been taught grammar themselves.

Professor Barry Spurr has reviewed the English strand of the Australian National Curriculum.

Professor Spur warns that a generation of Australians - including younger teachers - have missed out on being taught grammar at primary school.

Dr Fiona Mueller, another English Curriculum reviewer, notes that Australian teachers are struggling.

"The reality, which cannot be overstated, is that generations of Australian teachers have had little formal study of foreign languages," she said.

"They are also likely to be the product of decades of English teaching that contained little or no focus on grammar or punctuation."


Dumb and dumber,  Samantha Maiden, P. 28, The Courier-Mail, 13 October 2014

The teaching of maths and science in Queensland is a circus.

As a teacher with experience overseas, I find the Queensland system a circus.

Disquiet among parents has dragged on for years on the airy-fairy teaching of maths and science in this state.

Instead of statewide tests and normal marks, Queensland school children's high school exit grades depend heavily on projects and a sheet with alphabet letters that literally cannot be added up.

Teachers are told, quite bare-faced by curriculum authorities, to make a holistic guess as to the final grade.

Hardly fair play.

Parents are ridiculously time-poor because they have to help their students with many open-ended projects.

They also have to stay onside with the teachers and the schools because of the subjective marking of this feelgood framework.

But no parent or teacher dared criticise the system due to the human judgement involved in all report cards.

Especially when future career paths depend on them.


C. Troy, Mt Gravatt, Letter to the Editor, p.35, The Courier-Mail, 8 March, 2013

We need better maths textbooks in our schools.

In the most recent OECD test of 15-year-olds, Singapore ranked second in the world in maths.

Australia ranked 19th.

In May 2014 new maths textbooks will be released in Australia, setting out how maths is taught to primary school children in Singapore.

The books for Years 1 to 6 will be published by Scholastic Australia.  


Robina Cosser says : We need really, really need these textbooks in our schools.

So many of our teachers have such a poor grasp of maths themselves - teachers need some structure, some clear directions on how to teach maths.

With these textbooks, every child in every Australian school will have the same opportunity to learn maths, however low their teacher's OP score.


Getting the basics right is vital to further is vital to further maths study, Editorial, P.13, The Australian, 15 April 2014

Anita Bailey : all Queensland students would benefit from Noel Pearson's Direct Instruction.

Anita Bailey  there is currently enormous strain on Queensland teachers due to students going wild in schools -

"As a teacher who has had near-misses with flying chairs in inner-city public schools, it is important to point out the frustration felt by students and their parents with the current school system.

Traditional learning has been dismissed and replaced with a Google-as-you-go assignment nightmare.

Both students and teachers are buckling under the strain of project overload and feel-good fuzzy maths instituted by the Queensland Studies Authority.

... Because the QSA defends student-centred learning at the expense of knowledge, students whose parents work long hours or are unable to assist with research homework get further and further behind in the classroom and act out.

All Queensland students would benefit from the lively, structured Direct Instruction classrooms of the Noel Pearson academies.

Classrooms with conventional teaching and assessment lift student confidence."


Anita Bailey, Holland Park, Letter to the Editor, p.23, The Courier-Mail, 16 July 2013

Brad Ahern : too much student-centred, self-guided, inquiry learning has replaced teacher-guided, direct instruction.

Many frustrations felt by Queensland students arise from two serious mistakes wrought by the Queensland Studies Authority -

Firstly, the asessment students face focuses too much on higher order thinking skills rather than traditional, time-tested knowledge of the subject disciplines, especially in maths and sciences.

The undesirable outcome is that key knowledge is not emphasised but considered a commodity which can be found on Google.

The second problem stems from the QSA's attempts to mandate how teaching should occur in classrooms by setting strictures into syllabi.

Too much student-centred, self-guided, inquiry learning has replaced teacher-guided, direct instruction and left students to fend for themselves.

This manifests itself in faulty classroom behaviours.

Brad Ahern, Cannon Hill, Letter to the Editor, The Courier-Mail, p. 23, 16 July 2013.

Queensland teachers stressed as they try to start the new Australian curriculum for Prep to Year 10.
In 2012 Queensland students are among the first in the country to take on the Australian curriculum in all Prep to Year 10 classes in English, mathematics and science.

But Early Childhood Teachers' Association president Kim Walters said teachers couldn't download required resources because the network kept crashing or there were access and speed problems.

And some of the new curriculum content was too hard for the Queensland's youngest children.

"Definitely there are a lot of stressed teachers as they try to do their very best."

LNP education spokesman Bruce Flegg said the Queensland Labor Government had failed students by "rushing in the curriculum" before New South Wales and Victoria.


Chaos in schools, warn teachers as Australian curriculum rolled out, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 18 February 2012

The Queensland Studies Authority is underfunded.
The Queensland Studies Authority refuse to listen to teachers, who are in the classroom rather than occupying desks in the QSA building in South Brisbane.
I feel sorry for students having to sit the QCS as it's a bl__dy disaster.
One only has to look at the problems with the Biology, Chemistry and Physics syllabi, which are completely useless and driving Queensland students away from these subjects, to realise how hopeless the QSA really is.
But you can't blame the QSA for being so hopeless and incompetent when they are so underfunded by the government.
To give a comparison, the total amount of money the Qld government spends on running the QSA is equal to the amount of money the NSW government invests in security for the HSC.
No wonder things aren't working here in Queensland.
Anonymous and Frustrated Teacher of Upper Mt Gravatt, Reader's Comment 3 of 106, Errors in Queensland Core Skills test highlighted by students themselves, Jackie Sinnerton, The Sunday Mail, 11 September 2011
The Queensland Studies Authority is killing science.
I am hearing you "Frustrated Teacher of Mt Gravatt".
The Science syllabi are a hideous joke.
It is a miracle that we have ANY students in science.
The Queensland Studies Authority is killing it.
I have taught for 25 years and am no longer sure what an VHA level student actually looks like !!!
Desperate for Guidance, Reader's Comment 66 of 106,  Errors in Queensland Core Skills test highlighted by students themselves, Jackie Sinnerton, The Sunday Mail, 11 September 2011
The Queensland Studies Authority is torn apart by bad management, arrogance, intimidation and incompetence.
The Queensland Studies Authority are actually an arrogant and fundamentally incompetent organisation that should be disbanded and shut down.
Yes, I have dealt with them as an insider of Education Queensland.
They truly are hopeless and torn apart by bad management, arrogance, intimidation , incompetence and really should not exist at all as an organisation or authority!!
Scotchy of Brisbane, Reader's Comment 26 of 106,  Errors in Queensland Core Skills test highlighted by students themselves, Jackie Sinnerton, The Sunday Mail, 11 September 2011
The Queensland Education Department need to get better organised. Teachers need seminars on the new English and Social Studies syllabuses. And the people running the seminars need to know what they are talking about.

New English and Social Studies syllabuses are imminent for Queensland teachers and children.

The New Maths was introduced recently with disorganisation which will take years for Queensland's teachers and children to make up.

Seminars were only given to some teachers and then only at irregular intervals.

Some of the men conducting these seminars had limited knowledge of the New Maths and a corresponding lack of knowledge of the teaching applications of the new syllabus.

Will this disorganisation be repeated when the new syllabuses are introduced?

Or will the Education Department learn from its previous mistakes?

Wondering, Coorparoo, Letter to the Editor, p.34, The Courier-Mail Wednesday 8 September 2010.

Queensland state school students do not spend enough time doing maths.

The NAPLAN tests were a joke.

During my practicum last year in grade 7, we supervised the maths tests - the class teacher instructed us to review completed answer books of students who finished too early to look for 'any stupid mistakes' and hand them back to the student.

Any mistake ended up being reviewed and the child gently pointed in the direction of the correct answer.

Then again, how the children managed to complete the test at all was amazing in itself.

During normal weeks they must have spent 1 to 2 hours on maths in total.

Twenty years ago it would have been 1 to 2 hours a day - and no calculators!

I've quit education altogether now, it's pointless.

I'm not dedicating the rest of my life to teaching the garbage curriculum set in this state.

  • Student Teacher of Brisbane, Readers' Comment 21, Academic ratings compared, Tanya Chilcott,  The Courier-Mail, May 22, 2009
  • Anita Bailey : Queensland state school students do not seem to be taught the maths facts that they need to do high school maths.

    Anita Bailey writes "... As a secondary school maths teacher, I have had enough.

    It is certainly child abuse when Year 9 students reach me at their age and still need to count up in threes on their fingers in order to tell me what four times three is.

    I am amazed that they know how to add up in such groups to even work that out, considering they seem to have been taught virtually no maths facts in seven years of primary school.

    I cannot teach them fractions or formulae, decimals or percentages, so necessary for everyday life (let alone for doing any science) until I spend months of revision drilling them on the times tables."


    Anita Bailey, Holland Park West, QLD, Letter to the Editor, Opinion, p. 14, The Weekend Australian, Saturday 21 March 2009.

    Students think that the English curriculum is "garbage".

    "One of the main problems (at Queensland independent schools) seems to me to be the curriculum imposed on them, or at least the English curriculum ...

    My son is in Year 11 at one of these schools. It's a well-known school. And it is subject to an English curriculum imposed by the state that forces school kids to do English assignments ... on things such as advertisments. These kids have to "deconstruct" the ad. ...

    This awful discourse stuff has a few unintended consequences that are good ones. The main one is that it creates an awful lot of cynicism about this junk. The kids overwhelmingly think it is garbage.

    And if you can talk to the English teachers away from his or her boss, then most of them will quietly tell you it's garbage too. How awful it must be to have to teach this nonsense when you actually know it's nonsense. ..."

  • System is doing a good job of making students hate English, James Allan, Garrick Professor of law at The University of Queensland, page 29, The Courier-Mail.
  • Why aren't students learning to write in high school?

    Dwight Lemke, Lecturer in Management, School of Business, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, wrote a letter to the editor of The Australian :

    ... A large proportion, if not a majority, of my students cannot write a clear, concise and grammatically correct paragraph to save their lives.

    Those of us who care about the quality of the students we send out into the world are therefore compelled to correct their English so that they have a last chance to learn to communicate well.

    This is not something we should be doing at university.

    Students are supposed to graduate from high school with a basic knowledge of maths, English, science and social studies.

    Why isn't it happening?

  • Dwight Lemke, Letter to the Editor, Opinion, p.15, The Australian : 19 June 2008 ( approx date ).
  • Why are students who fail to master the work in one grade allowed to move up to the next grade?

    Why are students who fail a majority of their subjects every year allowed to move up to the next grade?

    Maybe there is a need to take a look at the way the whole Education System works.

    Or, should I say, fails to work.


    Jane Alley of Brisbane, Reader's Comment, Sort teaching wheat from chaff, Ross Guest, The Courier-Mail : 20 November 2009


    web counter

    Members Area

    Recent Blog Entries

    Newest Members