Home >  Blog >  External exams and school autonomy

External exams and school autonomy

Posted by Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President on 8 January 2017

An edited version of the letter below was published in The Australian of Thursday 29 December 2016. It had been submitted in response to an opinion piece by Kevin Donnelly. The letter was grouped with another under a heading not directly related to the subject matter of mine. Underlined words were deleted and bracketed ones were inserted. The quotation marks that I used for the pieces cited from Donnelly's article were also removed.

Educational commentator inconsistent

The latest opinion piece from educational commentator Kevin Donnelly is internally contradictory ("Here's why non-government schools work better", Dec 28).

Citing Brian Caldwell, he (Donnelly) argues that schools should have greater autonomy in relation to "curriculum, teaching and assessment". At the same time however, he repeats his regularly expressed support for "high-risk examinations".

These two positions don't really fit together. In educational regimes that feature high stakes external examinations, preparation for what is anticipated in the exam effectively becomes the curriculum irrespective of what any syllabus document might say. And by their very nature, external exams like the NSW HSC (HSC in NSW) are necessarily "one-size-fits-all" arrangements with all students across the state sitting for the same test. Donnelly regularly uses this phrase to criticise what he likes to call (calls) "command-and-control" management of schooling. Logically, he can't have it both ways.

Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past PresidentAuthor: Garry Collins, ETAQ Immediate Past President
About: Garry Collins was ETAQ President from mid July 2005 to 15 March 2014. He taught English in state high schools for around 35 years and now tutors in English curriculum courses in the School of Education at the University of Queensland.
Tags: Assessment

Post comment

Upcoming Events

Early Career Conference

The Early Career Conference will be held at the University of Southern Queensland, Springfield Campus.  We are seeking the following presenters: Expert Speakers to explore Practical English Teaching Early Career English Teachers to focus on skills,tips and tricks  Attendees range from pre-service teachers to ...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 26th October 2019
Venue:   Springfield Campus of USQ


Grammar Day 2019

ETAQ will be condudcting another of the very successful grammar days on Saturday 9th November  at Iona College, Wynnum. Download the flyer for further information. Registrations will open on Monday 30 September and close on Monday 28 October 2019.   ...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 9th November 2019
Venue:   Iona College


National Conference, Melbourne

The AATE National Conference will be held in Melbourne from 30 November to 3rd December. The theme is My story flows in more than one direction: power of story, politics of voice. The program is available here; visit the conference website Early bird registration closes on 20 September. A range of prices includes $550 for personal mem...

Category:   National Conference
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 30th November 2019
Venue:   Melbourne, various locations


View all

Latest News

Karen Yager is presenting at State Conference

View all

Blog Feed

Editor of Words'Worth - Expression of interest

Oct 04 2017
Words'Worth is the journal of The Englis...

Grammar myths

Sep 12 2017
An edited version of the letter below was pu...
Read all

Testimonials

Read All

This is the first time I have been to an ETAQ conference and it was really sensational to get so much at all of the sessions.

ETAQ conferences always have sessions that make me excited to be a teacher.

I know that ETAQ conferences in the past have never disappointed - valuable, relevant, practical, inspiring so I came again.

Read All

Newsletter

Receive updates
from ETAQ

PO Box 3375, STAFFORD,
Queensland, Australia, 4053
(07) 3284 3718
ABN: 17 689 278 512

Connect to a great range of people who are passionate about English and have their finger on the pulse.

Be Connected