Impossible mission: Turn a Ford into a Ferrari
The government's school rating website, My School, is up and running after a few initial problems. Armed with the information the website provides Ms Gillard, the Federal Education minister, hopes parents will challenge both teachers and school administrators deemed to be under-performing:
Following a briefing on the website yesterday, Ms Gillard told the Herald the Government welcomed the fact that the website would empower parents to badger school staff to lift standards. ''We would expect parents to have robust conversations with teachers and principals,'' she said.
Ms Gillard said teachers were already trained to deal with complaints on parent-teacher nights. Now, parents would be armed with even more information with which to complain.
''This should put pressure on people,'' Ms Gillard said.
On the other hand, Ms Gillard reckons some schools need help:
We're going to shine a light on some schools that need a helping hand and we are ready to work in partnership with those schools with new money and new programs.
Cool, teachers who are doing their best, often in very difficult circumstances, can expect to be badgered at the same time the government is increasing funding to help overcome problems beyond their control. That's going to make teachers, already working in a low status occupation, feel absolutely fantastic.
There's no getting around the obvious: even the most competent and highly motivated teacher cannot turn an ordinary, or less than ordinary, student into a high-achiever. Ultimately, the responsibility for student achievement rests with the student, not with the teacher.
An expert mechanic can optimise the performance of a vehicle but cannot turn a Ford into a Ferrari. So it is with teachers.