The Future of Schools: Lessons from the Reform of Public Education

By Donnelly, Kevin | Review - Institute of Public Affairs, February 1998 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Future of Schools: Lessons from the Reform of Public Education

Donnelly, Kevin, Review - Institute of Public Affairs

The Future of Schools: Lessons from the Reform of Public Education by Brian Caldwell and Don Hayward

Falmer Press (UK), 1998, $31.95

The Future of Schools provides a very important and timely contribution to the debate about the future of public education. It deserves particular praise as it successfully places Victorian events in a global context and succinctly outlines some of the major options for further reform.

Its timeliness is supported by the December 1997 report on the Schools of the Future by the Victorian Auditor-General. That report notes that the Accountability Framework devised for Schools of the Future `represents a significant advancement in terms of measuring school performance ...' and that the Department `is to be applauded for its initiative and the progress it has made ...'

As stated in the Preface, the purpose of the book is twofold: first, to tell the story of Victoria's Schools of the Future and, second, to put forward and explore a number of options for further reform of the school system. As such, the book is unique in that it is able to draw on both the practice and theory of large-scale educational reform.

It begins by outlining `the crisis in public education' across the Western world. Whether it be Britain, New Zealand, America or the different States of Australia, the general consensus is that public education has failed. High rates of illiteracy, the `dumbing down' of the curriculum and the success of Asian nations like Singapore, Japan and Korea in international tests like the Third International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) are provided as evidence of this failure.

The next two chapters provide Don Hayward's account of one attempt to provide a more efficient and effective system of public education. As the Shadow Minister for Education and the Minister for Education in the first Kennett Government from October 1992, Don Hayward is in a good position to provide an account of what he terms `... my revolution in education in Victoria'.

This revolution involved overhauling a highly bureaucratic, centralized system suffering from `provider capture'. Excessive teacher union demands, the moribund and self-serving nature of the education bureaucracy and the indulgences of the previous Labor Government had all conspired to ensure that students were no longer being properly educated.

The system, as outlined by Hayward, was ripe for change, and drawing on his experience as a senior executive in General Motors he set out a strategy to achieve such change. These chapters centre on the Minister's role in implementing this strategy. The reader is told by Hayward that he was instrumental in overhauling the curriculum, in devolving power to schools, in balancing the education budget, in introducing State-wide assessment and reporting, in introducing new technology to schools and ensuring that the community understood and supported the new initiatives.

The reader is also told that many around the Minister doubted whether such a wide-sweeping and fundamental change process could be successful and that `... the Schools of the Future program was underestimated by everybody except me'.

Why were education reforms in Victoria introduced so quickly and so comprehensively and have they led to a better system of public education? Part of the explanation, as argued in Chapter Four, is that the environment in Victoria was unique. Nowhere else has there been an alignment of political conditions so necessary for the introduction of such major reform.

In answering the second question, the results from a number of research projects are presented. The strength of this section of the book is that shortcomings raised by critics of Schools of the Future are presented and an international perspective is taken on research into the effectiveness of educational reform measures similar to those which have occurred in Victoria since 1992.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Future of Schools: Lessons from the Reform of Public Education


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?