ASPA is the leading voice for secondary school education in Australia. We work to influence and inform national the national education debate on a range of issues.
National School Reform Agreement
October 2023 It's urgent! ASPA calls for all our public schools to be fully funded to 100% of the School Resource Standard (at a minimum) through the upcoming National School Reform Agreement. It's about ensuring every kid gets a fair go, no matter who their parents are. The disparities in educational outcomes between our advantaged and disadvantaged students are getting worse. We are deeply concerned by these widening gaps. We concur with Correna Haythorpe: fully funding public schools is the cornerstone of offering each child every opportunity to succeed. The numbers are glaring – only 1.3% of public schools are funded to the SRS. This must change. Furthermore, we call for the introduction of new initiatives in this NSRA to measure and report on social segregation between schools. There are more students from the most disadvantaged quarter of the population in public schools (37%) than from the most advantaged half of the population (36%) (My School 2022). We are well below the OECD average on social segregation in our schools, in fact we are closer to the bottom. (Equity In Education: Equity in Education: Breaking Down Barriers to Social Mobility, OECD 2018). We have tried everything else in Australia, let's try equity; other systems have and demonstrated improvement. We are one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Our children and educators deserve better. Let's take a decisive step towards ensuring that every child, in every school, gets the resources they need to achieve their fullest potential.
Principals Health & Wellbeing
May 2023 The Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey 2022 has been released, receiving more media attention than ever before. The survey highlights the ongoing stress experienced by principals and school leaders, with many recording their highest levels. It also highlights the highest percentage of principals and school leaders reporting physical violence since the survey's inception. Particularly alarming is that the measures associated with job satisfaction, commitment to the work, and the meaning of work are at their lowest point ever. These are the ‘moral purpose’ reasons that have steered school communities through fires, floods and a pandemic in recent years. Principals may be losing heart for the first time. This should be a wake-up call for all Australians that we need to pay attention to the health and wellbeing of our school leaders, who have such a critical role to play in shaping the future of our children, and our country. ASPA commends the Australian Catholic University's Institute for Positive Psychology and Education work on this matter and sees these findings as symptomatic of the same issues underpinning Australia's declining academic standing, urgent teacher shortages, as well as the decline in student wellbeing in student wellbeing as indicated by PISA’s measures for Australian 15-year-olds over almost two decades. It is clear that schools and school leaders face increasing complexity and expectation from governments and community without a coherent and effective resourcing model in response. We also see the need for a national conversation about what schools and school leaders should be responsible for, and what responsibility should be taken by families, community, and other agencies. Australian government schools carry the overwhelming burden of educating and caring for our most vulnerable and disadvantaged students. It is unacceptable that we ask our school leaders to bear this burden without providing them with the necessary support and resources to do so. We urge an intervention on the part of all Australian Governments to address these issues. ASPA suggests the development of a National Principal’s Health & Wellbeing, Engagement and Retention strategy to expand on the 2022 National Teacher Workforce Action Plan. This would be a reasonable first step, and will be essential if the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s Review into the National School Reform Agreement (chapter 8) are to be implemented effectively. It will also be necessary to meet AITSL expectations for a healthy and sustainable workforce, and if we ultimately want a happy, healthy, and successful future for our children. The challenges facing our school leaders are significant, and the need for a national conversation about the future of education in Australia is urgent if we are to sustain principals in the job. It is time for all Australians to come together and work towards a common goal of providing our children with the best possible education, and to support the health and wellbeing of those who are responsible for delivering it.
Safe & Respectful Learning Environments
August 2023 ASPA is concerned about occupational violence in schools and disrespect toward educators by some parents and community members. ASPA believes that principals should have the authority to limit access to schools for those demonstrating unsafe, threatening, or violent behaviour. According to the ACU IPPE 2022 Principals' Health & Wellbeing Survey report, 1 in 3 principals experienced physical violence in 2021 1. This is unacceptable and highlights the need for action. ASPA supports the provisions in some jurisdictions such as Victoria and the ACT that allow principals to limit access to schools for parents, and members of the community following unsafe, threatening, or violent behaviour. ASPA would like to see the next Education Minister’s Meeting consider supporting the introduction of nationally consistent approaches. Principals are responsible for ensuring a safe and healthy environment for students and staff. They should be empowered to take necessary measures to protect their school community from harm.