From the Head of Crowther Centre – Dr Ray Swann

Gonski: Through Growth to Achievement  

Many parents would be aware of the latest Federal review into education led by David Gonski (sometimes titled ‘Gonski 2.0’) released on the 30 April this year. We have had a few parents asking about the report, so here is a brief overview.

What is the Gonski report?

Well, back in 2010, David Gonski (a businessmen known for his philanthropy) was asked by Julia Gillard (the Education Minister) to lead a review into the state of education. At the time, key concerns for Australia’s schooling were (and remain) our relative decline in academic achievement internationally (both in maths and literacy), a significant gap between our high and low performing students and a clear link between social disadvantage and low achievement (particularly in low socioeconomic backgrounds). Gonski’s first report recommended increased funding to finance a needs-based model for education, including loadings for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This became known as the schooling resource standard and the purpose was to promote better equity and resourcing for Australian children.

Due to the realities of our existing funding models (with the interplay between State and Federal in Education) much of Gonski 1.0 was unfunded until 2017 (source: Financial Review, 9 May).  Still, in the lead up to the 2016 election, Prime Minister Turnbull announced a new Gonski led review which would go deeper with the question: ‘what were the key areas that we need to focus on nationally?

This work was recently released and there has been quite a lot of discussion in the media about it already.

The full report, Through Growth to Achievement can be read here (PDF 2,957KB), and it includes this summary:

Since the release of the report last week much debate has ensued in the media. It seems to centre on a few critical areas:

  • When, where and how funding is allocated – does it focus on the right things?
  • Tensions between a more traditional view of education (the 3 R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic) and the ‘general capabilities’ (critical and creative thinking for instance) of the future
  • Tensions in the role of the teacher (either as an instructor and knowledgeable expert who can impart skills or as a facilitator who helps student to ‘discover’)
  • Opinion that the report is not clear and the language is not well defined with clear outcomes

This week, I attended an ASSIS meeting (Association of Senior Staff in Independent Schools) which is supported by the Centre for Strategic Education and heard from Professor Sandra Milligan. Her take on Gonski was that perhaps it didn’t go far enough; that to really address the challenges that Australia faces internationally we need to do more.

So where does that leave Brighton Grammar?

From a Crowther perspective it confirmed a few key things for us. First, our continued focus on lifting student learning outcomes (both academic and wellbeing) is right. There is no better gift to a child than a great education. Secondly, creating an aspirational culture with high standards, one that is driven by an intrinsic desire for our boys to improve and aspire, is aligned with the report. Finally, our focus on looking at learning through experience as well as having the opportunity to develop resilience and purpose will help future proof our boys and enable them to flourish in the uncertain years to come. 

Probably the best comment I have heard through all the media and analysis was actually from our Headmaster on gate duty: Ray, there are some big changes coming and it’s a great time to be in education!


Crowther Events
Looking ahead

The Crowther Centre we will be running three workshops this term (details as below). We hope to see parents from ELC – VCE coming along to learn and share.

Effective Learner Workshop

When – Thursday 7 June, 6 – 7pm

What – A workshop event to explore the Effective Learner model and look at how you can build routines into your home.

Where – Wellbeing Centre

How – Please book here


Engaging Adolescents Workshop

When – Wednesday 14 June, 4 – 5pm

What – This workshop is for parents of boys who are heading into adolescence (or already in it) and will have a focus on building and establishing communication with your son as well as managing technology.

Where – Wellbeing Centre

How – Please book here


Effective Learner Workshop (for parents and guardians of international boys only)

When – Monday 4 June, 2:30 – 3:30pm

What – A workshop event to explore the Effective Learner model and look at how you can build routines into your home. There will be a Chinese interpreter present at the event.

Where – Wellbeing Centre

How – Please book here