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Transcript of interview with Alan Jones: 2GB: 3 December 2010: 'My School'; National Curriculum; NAPLAN



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Transcript - 2GB Alan Jones - 3 December 2010

Published 3/12/2010

SUBJECTS: 'My School', National Curriculum, NAPLAN

Alan Jones: Christopher Pyne, good morning.

Christopher Pyne: Good morning Alan.

Jones: When was this updated 'My School' website meant to go public?

Pyne: December 3rd. Today. The 'My School' website was supposed to be relaunched with all the financial data of the non-government schools sector but unfortunately the government because they're completely hopeless haven't been able to get their act together and they've delayed it indefinitely. Now two weeks ago Julia Gillard and Peter Garret publicly relaunched the 'My School 2.0', that they've called it, in Canberra as one of their achievements, one of their reforms, to the education sector and two weeks later they've had to announce that it will be delayed until next year.

Jones: Now there was a blow up in Victoria yesterday where a Montessori school in North East Victoria which is struggling financially has been ranked the third most advantaged school in the nation on this so-called revamped school website and this Beechworth Montessori is, we now learn, one of the poorest schools in Victoria. Twenty-five percent of its students on health care cards and yet it was ranked among the wealthiest schools in Australia. Can they do anything correctly?

Pyne: And their roof is leaking overnight. We spoke...

Jones: Its got 53 students and rents its premises.

Pyne: And it rents their premises and its roof is leaking. We spoke to them yesterday and they said as we speak our roof is leaking of our school hall, we have 53 students, twenty-five percent of them are on health cards, education cards, and that's the third most advantaged school in Australia.

Jones: And that was all supposed to go on the website today. Now it seems as though Garret is going to delay it because of these litany of complaints but I

understand that the lawyers for the Victorian Independent Schools have written to the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Authority, which is responsible for 'My School', demanding a guarantee that the site will not be made public, that's the 'My School' site, until the financial data is demonstrated to be correct. When will that be?

Pyne: Well that could well be months into the future.

Jones: Sorry to interrupt you there Christopher Pyne, was there ever any intention at all that this financial data would go on the website anyway?

Pyne: The Government was going to publish the financial data of independent and catholic schools today. They were going to publicly try and expose the non-government sector. There were schools in Victoria where there was an $11 million difference between what the Government said they had and what they said they had and yet the Government was going to publish that data. The really sinister aspect of what the Government is doing is while it seems like just another administrative stuff-up from Peter Garret and Julia Gillard, in fact this all goes to them trying to cut funding for the non-government schools sector from the Government. That is the real agenda. The only reason they wanted to publish the financial data in the first place was to undermine the non-government schools sector and they were going to publish faulty data.

Jones: Now just coming back on a couple of points you made there. This is the 'My School' website we're talking about. It's now clear its not reliable, the information that's there. But this was to be the centrepiece of Julia Gillard's education reform, it's beginning to be an embarrassment. Let me just say to my listeners, and Christopher Pyne will comment on this, we were told that the website would help parents make more informed decisions about where to send their children. According to the index, now are you sitting down or standing up, according to the index used to measure the socio-economic status of student's families, the most advantaged school in the nation, the most advantaged school in the nation (is) not Geelong Grammar, not the Kings School in Parramatta. The Douglas Daly Primary School. A one teacher government school two hundred and twenty kilometres south-west of Dawin. Now Christopher Pyne.

Pyne: Well that's a joke isn't it.

Jones: It is a joke.

Pyne: It is an absolute joke.

Jones: The most advantaged school in the nation.

Pyne: And the 'My School' website is the signature tune of Julia Gillard from her time as education minister. She's thrown a hospital pass to poor Peter Garret who yet again has an absolute dud of a policy to sell. At least he has had the good sense to stop the data being published, at least he's had the good sense to do that.

Jones: I mean there's the top school, the Douglas Daly Primary School. The third school, this outfit in Montessori where a third of the students, 25 percent of the students, are on health care cards.

Pyne: The parents at Loreto Kirribilli must be wondering why they're sending their kids to Loreto Kirribilli when they could send them up to Douglas Daly.

Jones: Exactly. But then on top of all of this we've got this question about the curriculum.

Pyne: Yep.

Jones: Where there seems to be very significant concern about what that's going to do to education.

Pyne: Well the National Curriculum is completely off the rails. And we have been saying for about nine months in the Coalition, we know this isn't working, we'll give you a leave pass, you know we won't criticise you for delaying it because it's better for the kids to have the right education rather than the Government save face politically. Clearly the National Curriculum is not ready to be introduced. Peter Garret is still saying that they will start it in January 2011. It is incapable of starting...

Jones: January 2011 is a matter of days away.

Pyne: Exactly. I mean it is supposed to start in less than a month. Western Australia and New South Wales have already said that they won't proceed with it. The new Victorian Minister for Education (inaudible)...

Jones: This is flirting with the future of young Australians.

Pyne: Well it's far, far too important. I mean we all support the...

Jones: So you've got financial data appearing on the 'My School' website which is riddled with error, there's your first thing. So that's a shambles. Then you've got the National Curriculum, the Board of Studies here saying that's a shambles. I just wanted to raise one issue with you that I'm getting in correspondence and this is this business about the Literacy and Numeracy tests. Is it your information that disabled children and under-performing children are being told not to turn up at school on the day that these tests are being conducted because the schools are terrified that their scores would reduce the overall score of that particular school and that school would appear on the website. Are you getting any information to that effect?

Pyne: Look yes I am Alan. And as the father of four children, two of which have learning difficulties, one of whom is dyslexic , I can tell you that if somebody said to me, if a teacher said to me 'can you please keep your child home on NAPLAN testing day' which hasn't happened but if it did happen it would be a devastating blow to my children and my family and I know that there are parents being told that it would be better if Johnnie or Jill didn't come on Wednesday or whatever day...

Jones: That's what I'm being told.

Pyne: ...because, you know, the NAPLAN tests are being done and...

Jones: The results will appear on the website and your child will affect all of that.

Pyne: Exactly. And, you know, we don't want to have a bung result and that's absolutely disastrous.

Jones: And that's why you said that the NAPLAN tests should not appear on the website, what should appear on the website is the improvement in the school. So if the disabled child improved that would add to the profile of improvement of that particular school.

Pyne: Absolutely. The Coalition's policy was test every year so we're actually getting a proper understanding of people's improvement and the test becomes just another test rather than this great big sort of thing that is going to happen which worries the hell out of the teachers and causes people to cheat and so forth and tell people to stay home. And publish the improvement so the motivation is actually to have the children that are struggling doing the tests so you can show what a great teacher and school you are because every year you're improving the difficult children's results rather than try to weed them out of the system.

Jones: Is there a program initiated by the Rudd Government then the Gillard Government, is there a program that's working? I mean this is beginning now to be an absolute disaster. The 'My School' update has got to be called off today, the National Curriculum will not start in January because it's a mess and now we find that the whole testing thing is jeopardising the educational well-being of those who most need a good education, the disabled and the poorly performing.

Pyne: Well Alan I had thought the New South Wales Labor Government was the worst government in Australia's history but I'm starting to come to the view that the Gillard Government could well be the worst government in Australia's history. They cannot introduce anything. The Minister for Schools is the same Minister who was responsible for the home insulation disaster, the solar panels disaster and the Green Loans disaster. He's been given the Schools portfolio and I mean we should let him

off the hook a bit because Julia Gillard was responsible for this policy and she's handed it to poor old Peter Garret and they are incapable of delivering anything.

Jones: We'll leave it there. It's good to talk to you and I thank you for your time.

Pyne: Thank you.

ENDS.