Bad Apple Bullies

Bad Apple Bully school principals and departmental officers can bully Australian teachers into ill health - and out of work!

Australian universities are still training too many teachers.

Only 46 per cent of recent Australian education graduates are working full-time in schools.

Only 40 per cent of Australian post-graduate education students are working full-time in schools.

(Initial Teacher Education : Data Report 2017, released on 8 September 2017 by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership.) 


"We've got a problem nationally matching supply and demand in teaching" AITSL  chief executive Lisa Rodgers said. 

Graduates find it tough to break into the classroom, Stephanie Balogh, P.7 The Nation, The Weekend Australian, 9-10 September 2017 

Glyn Davis : we need a way to ensure potential students are aware of the risks of undertaking an education degree.

There are more than 400 courses offered in aspects of teacher training across Australia, attracting some 80,000 students.

In any given year, however, only 7,000 full time teaching positions are available.


We need a way to ensure potential students are aware of the risks of undertaking a degree.


Glyn Davis, vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne,  Election or not, graduate outcomes and better regulation are key, The Australian, 29 June 2016.

Trainee teachers must be encouraged to teach phonics!

(Jennifer Buckingham writes in The Australian : Among English-speaking countries, Australia has one of the largest proportions of children who do not achieve minimum standards in literacy by Year 4.

The most effective way to develop accurate and fluent word identification is to learn the code of written English through being taught phonics - the relationships between sounds in speech and the letter patterns in written words in an explicit and systematic way.

Unfortunately, literacy policies and programs in use in Australian schools do not consistently incorporate evidence-based, effective phonics instruction.

It is difficult to explain precisely the resistance to such a well-proven method. 

However it seems to stem from a combination of ideological attachment to social theories of literacy, a rejection of the primacy of scientific evidence and vested interests in entrenched reading programs.)


I did a teaching degree in the early 80's.

Phonics was not advocated.

Whole language was in vogue.

It was not the fault of the trainee teachers that phonic techniques were not learned.

The reason they were not learned is because they were not taught.

This was the fault of the faculty and the education tzars at the time. 


Wayne, Reader's Comment,  Five minutes of phonics to lift child literacy levels, Jennifer Buckingham, The Australian, 24 November 2016


Phonics has always been demonstrably the most effective method for teaching reading (and writing) to children.

But the Left have always been against it.

Hence the teaching of phonics has waxed and waned like the moon - leading to serious shortcomings in the teaching of written English to Australian children.

That this vacuous debate has continued since I was taught reading (using phonics) in the early 1960's, is beyond belief.


Logical, Reader's Comment,   Five minutes of phonics to lift child literacy levels, Jennifer Buckingham, The Australian, 24 November 2016


Phonics is better for boys.

But the progressives / feminists have taken over the Education Department and unis.

The progressives are only interested in progressing girls.

All the new teaching 'fads' are techniques that boys don't enjoy and so they are harder for boys -

 * removing competition and marks and replacing them with continuous assessment, 

 * taking away explicit teaching techniques.

 * removing discipline and teacher-directed learning.

 * collaborative and communicative teaching techniques.

 * replacing 'doing' something with 'talking about it'. 

 * even removing rods and phonics made sure boys would do worse.

These changes and dozens of others made sure boys would suffer and dislike school, while girls enjoyed school more and did better.

Boys thrive with competition - without it, school is 'boring'. 


Same thing with Noel Pearson's Aurukun school - Queensland progressives are destroying it because the school uses Direct Instruction.

Direct Instruction uses phonics and continues all through the school years using similar effective techniques.

It is much better for the disadvantaged and struggling students and better for boys.


PTP, Reader's Comment (edited version of two comments)    Five minutes of phonics to lift child literacy levels, Jennifer Buckingham, The Australian, 24 November 2016



Editor : This debate has always interested me because I taught a class of mildly-handicapped children in NSW in the late 1980's.

The children had to be tested and to have IQ's below 85 to get a place in the class.

I taught them all to read using the SRA phonics reading books.

I had no special training, it was easy to use the SRA books.

I gave cards to the best readers and the children saved up their cards to buy small prizes.

One boy was re-tested and found to have an IQ of 108.

I was told that he was "university material". 

Another boy was found to have an IQ of 96.

These boys had just not been taught to read.

So I am a strong supporter of phonics-based reading programs.

And competition.

We need to re-think teacher-training. Some popular teaching methodologies are ineffective.

I've retired from a system where staff believed everyone in a high school should achieve to the same level.

Where competition was a naughty word.

Where a student who had finally mastered some basic spelling was awarded a certificate while those achieving at an amazing level in, say, maths, were ignored.  

Where group work was the only way to go - because it allowed the good students to help those with challenges - thereby actually doing the teacher's job for them.

Where even the thought of graded classes would lead to mass hyperventilation by the staff.


And you wonder why our students don't bother about achieving?


Trevor, Reader's Comment,  'She'll be right' - students mired in mediocrity : Kevin Donnelly, Stefanie Balogh, The Australian, 15 November, 2016

We need intelligent teachers in Australian schools.

"We have to make it very clear to people considering a teaching career that if you're dumb you can't be a teacher."


Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership chairman John Hattie : Phonics, coding and faith as nation's schools go back to basics, Natasha Bita, p.1 and 9, The Weekend Australian, 19-20 September 2015

Australian universities are saturating the market with teachers. They know that the teachers will have to return to re-train - and to pay more fees.

With teaching, the universities are polishing up dip.eds, stretching them into two-year courses and calling them Master's degrees.

This just seems like an attempt to sell more degrees based on title as opposed to actual quality of education - or employment prospects.

The universities are trying to discourage people from doing dip.eds because they want you to stay at uni as long as possible - to get as much money out of you as possible.

The universities are keen to mandate Master's degrees for all now teachers - but they are not willing to put restrictions on entry requirements.

You may find this odd.

And now they bring up this literacy and numeracy test ($185 to sit a Year 7 Naplan test) "as a way of ensuring quality teacher candidates".

It just seems like a weak cash grab.

The universities don't mind saturating the market with fresh teachers because, after 3 or 4 years struggling to find full-time employment, the teachers will just come back to re-train in another field and get another shiny new piece of paper to add to their collection.


Nick, Reader's Comment, Easier access to university has devalued degrees, created huge debt and made some feel like failures, Charis Chang, , 1 August 2016

University academics have contributed to the falling standards in our schools with their worship of educational fads and fashions and their groupthink.

The teaching and learning academics at the Australian Catholic University and similar institutions, with their worship of fads (multiple intelligences) and fashions (post modernism and its many spores) and their groupthink add up to a major factor in falling standards in schools, both of teachers and students.


Gregory, Reader's Comment, Educationally enfranchised form Australia's new political force, Greg Craven, vice-chancellor, Australian Catholic University, The Australian, 18 February 2016

Universities have no motivation to aim high - principals hire teachers for their 'likability', not their qualifications.

In a new report on teacher education reform, Learning First warns that some Australian principals are hiring teachers for "likability" instead of teaching ability.

So universities have no motivation to aim high when training teachers because "employer reaction to the quality of training is often weak".



Universities 'have incentive' to train bad teachers , Natasha Bita, The Australian, 28 March 2015.

Australian universities were training too many teachers in 2013.

16,000 trainee teachers graduated in Australia in 2013.

Four months after graduating only half of them had secured permanent employment.


"It is quite unethical to let people train in an occupation they are not going to be employed in," said Stephen Dinham, a professor of education at the University of Melbourne.


Graduate glut puts trainee teachers on the scrapheap, Anna Patty, The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 October 2014

The Australian Government spends a lot of tax-payers' money to train teachers.

The Australian Government spends about $10,000 to train each student who completes a one-year postgraduate education course.

The Australian Government spends almost $40,000 to train each student who completes a four-year education degree course.


The Australian Productivity Commission's latest report shows the Australian Government spent about $450 million on teacher training in 2012.

The Government said it spent about $617 million on teacher education in 2013.



Graduate glut puts trainee teachers on the scrapheap, Anna Patty, The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 October 2014

Many Australian primary teachers have not been well trained at university.

Thousands of Australian students are struggling without the vital educational building block of good reading.

As a result, many have found themselves unable to succeed at more advanced subjects such as science or literature, or function productively in the workforce later.

Universities need to be held to account for this problem.

Despite irrefutable evidence about the importance of phonics in teaching reading, one of the recent  NSW Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) report's most telling findings was the absence of phonics from some university teaching courses. 

The focus on lifting standards in Australian schools should now extend to improving the quality of teaching degrees.

Many Australian primary teachers are poorly prepared to teach the basics.



Teachers need practical skills to teach reading , Editorial, P. 11, The Australian, 6 January 2015

BOSTES president Tom Alegounarias : Every teacher has to be able to teach phonics.

"Although research evidence from recent major studies into the teaching of reading unequivocally supports the explicit and systematic teaching of ... phonics in the early years of schooling ... it is not apparent that all graduate teachers would be able to do so," finds a report by the New South Wales Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES)."

"Many current primary teachers do not have adequate knowledge and skills for best-practice in the teaching of reading and are unable to give appropriate guidance to ... students," the report says.

"Universities ... enrol students on the understanding that they will teach those students how to be a good schoolteacher and it lets down schools and it lets down those students if they don't deliver that," NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said.


BOSTES president Tom Alegounarias said every teacher had to be able to teach phonics - the teaching of sounds that comprise the English language - explicitly and systematically.

"Teaching phonics isn't about ideology or philosophy, it's about evidence."

"Doctors don't have a belief in penicillin, penicillin works."

"Phonics works, full stop."


The BOSTES report identifies big shortcomings in practical training provided for teaching students in the teaching of reading, saying many supervising teachers "appear to have little knowledge and understanding of literacy theories/models, and ineffective literacy skills".


Teacher training fails on literacy, Justine Ferrari, P.1, The Australian, 5 January 2015

West Australian teacher : We need to re-think teacher training.

I am a current class room teacher, past consultant and Head of Learning and Acting Deputy in the WA public education system

I am perplexed by Australian teacher training centres and Universities.

Many University Departments have removed the solid preparation courses of the past and the in-school-mentoring programmes or (even more of a noticeable trend) handed it to educators who have taken refuge from classrooms in these tertiary centres and have not held roles in schools for many years.

Many of these University 'educators' are ignorant of what is actually happening today in schools and have failed to build thriving and important relationships with the very schools in which they send their students for pracs and ultimately, a future career.

When are these key teacher training organisations, along with Ministers and politicians, going to realise that they must have currency in teacher training education that is valid and coupled with real modeled approaches to learning that are realistic and reflect the current environment and clientele of schools today.

The approaches they employ must teach the best learning and classroom management skills, so our young teachers are prepared for the classroom.

Tertiary teacher training organisations seem to be following the fast money with the proliferation of online training units and modules, or offering often poorly taught face-to-face lectures that showcase ignorance or model often outmoded approaches to learning.

We need to recognise that schools themselves are the training sites for new teachers.

Schools need to define the environment and day to day schedules that best suit its community, teachers and the future teachers, or Tertiary teacher training organisations risk becoming the "Kodak company" of Education, one that is left behind while the rest of the world changes.

If the trend continues of the provision of poor Tertiary teacher training and professional development, public schools and compulsory education will risk finding itself no longer a viable option for educating our children,


JH, Reader's Comment, Hey politicians, leave those teachers alone, Jane Caro, The Drum, ABC News, 11 March 2013 


BNR, Reader's Comment, Hey politicians, leave those teachers alone, Jane Caro, The Drum, ABC News, 11 March 2013

'Whole Language' is an example of poor quality teacher-training.

Kevin Donnelly writes in The Australian :

The University of Wollongong's Brian Cambourne is regarded as one of the prime movers in Australia's adoption of the whole language approach.

This is an approach where children are taught to look and guess instead of being taught the relationship between letters and groups of letters and sounds.

Cambourne argues that learning to read is as natural and easy as learning to talk on the basis that "oral and written forms of language are only superficially different".

Reading, so the argument goes, does not have to be taught in a highly structured, systematic way as it occurs naturally as "the brain can also learn to process oral and written forms of language in much the same way".

Whole language involves immersing children in a so-called rich language environment where they are taught to guess unknown words by their context or by looking at related pictures and illustrations.


The reality is that reading, similar to learning how to write, is decidedly unnatural.

As noted by the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, oral speech is "spontaneous, involuntary and nonconscious" while activities like reading and writing are "abstract, voluntary, and conscious".

The 2005 National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy concludes that successful reading programs involve "an early and systematic emphasis on the explicit teaching of phonics" and a "focus on direct teaching".

The 2005 inquiry found that the prevailing approach to pedagogy in teacher training is based on constructivism even though there is "a serious lack of supporting evidence for its effectiveness".

Whole language advocates like Cambourne are also wrong to argue that beginning teachers are taught a phonics and phonemic awareness approach during teacher training.

A 2007 study by academics at NSW's Avondale College summarising national and international research analysing pre-service and in-service approaches to reading also concludes there is a definite lack of balance.

The researchers note there is a "mismatch between, on the one hand, what converging evidence-based research supports as effective early reading instruction and, on the other hand, the knowledge and skills which new teachers bring to the task of teaching beginning reading".


Most teachers lack the knowledge and skills to implement a phonics approach.


The Editor : When Whole Language was introduced to NSW schools in about 1986, many experienced teachers did not think it was an effective strategy.

They were in-serviced for hours and told that they were 'finding it hard to adapt to change'.

I used phonics (SRA readers) in my NSW primary class and, unbeknown to me, my class was being compared with a class where TWO teachers had worked on a Whole Language approach.

The children in my class did much better.


In 1987 I went to a language teachers' conference in Darwin.

We compared Grade 5 writing at one school in 1882 with Grade 5 writing in 1987, after the introduction of 'Whole Language' to the school.

It was immediately obvious to everybody that the 1987 writing was of a much lower standard and that Whole Language was failing.

We were asked to keep the information "in-house" because it was not 'politically correct' to criticise Whole Language.


It is an absolute disgrace that this ineffective Whole Language strategy is still lingering on in Australian schools in 2013.

It is an example of how harmful some Australian teacher-training has been.

Teaching needs to be based on evidence, not on warm fuzzy 'beliefs'.


And Australian classroom teachers need to be respected, their professional opinions about teaching strategies need to be heard.

It is much too easy for the 'education experts' to dismiss classroom teachers who question ineffective teaching strategies as 'troublemakers' who are 'finding it had to adapt to change'.



Phonics proven path to literacy, Kevin Donnelly, The Australian, 3 October 2013 


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