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.

Author: 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

Structuring Analytical Responses - Syll Obj 4

Grace Loyden, Head of Faculty - English at Townsville Grammar School will present a workshop on Saturday 27th July 2019 to address Structuring Analytical Responses to Explicitly Demonstrate Syllabus Onjective 4 from 9am to 12:00 pm. This event will be held in the PR Rowland Memorial Library, Bourke Street, North Ward.  ...

Category:   Seminar
Start Time:   9:00 AM
Date:   Saturday 27th July 2019
Venue:   Townsville Grammar School
Email Enquiries:   adminofficer@etaq.org.au


State Conference 2019

State Conference will be held on 17th August 2019 at Lourdes Hill College,Hawthorne Road, Hawthorne. Bronwyn Lea, UQ will present a keynote address on the value of  poetry in the new curriculum landscape. Dr Claire Hansen from JCU will present the second keynote entitled 'Complexifying' Shakespeare: reinvigorating our te...

Category:   State Conference
Start Time:   8:45 AM
Date:   Saturday 17th August 2019
Venue:   Lourdes Hill School
Phone Enquiries:   0455 464 000
Email Enquiries:   trish.purcell@bigpond.com


View all

Latest News

 

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