Highlights from 'Raising The Bar'
Raising The Bar was attended by principals and teachers from across Sydney. Danny Ritterman, CEO of Grossard Education introduced the conversation, “This is a unique opportunity to hear varying perspectives on the state of education in this country.” During this event, Danny Ritterman launched the NSW Version of MAPPEN.
Dennis Yarrington, President of the Australian Primary Principals Association, spoke about the importance of meaningful assessment in our schools. He explained his hands-on approach with curriculum when he was a principal, “I would ask my teachers to make sure that they weren’t setting ‘waste bin’ assessments.” He expressed a need for principals across the country to ‘take back control’ of the curriculum in their school.
He also highlighted a narrowing focus based on NAPLAN and PISA results, “The curriculum has narrowed due to a focus on national and international testing. Maybe our STEM, PE&H and the Arts are suffering because of this focus? It should be broad, balanced, rich and allow for deep learning. We want to know what kids can do with what they know! Not JUST What they know.”
Jane Caro, author and social commentator, spoke about the importance of the role of teachers and how we need to let teachers be themselves in the classroom. “There are some teachers who will suit some students and some who do not. I spoke to other parents whose child did not like a teacher that my child did - That’s the world, it’s a good lesson for our students to learn.”
Jane spoke passionately about the high expectations that we have for our children and the pressure to succeed.
“When my daughter came to me and told me that she had failed, I said good. We learn from our failures.” Talking about her own education, "I remember nothing from my primary school education."
Jane spoke about the importance of creativity in education, explaining that we need people to subvert the norm, to question the status quo.
Karen Green, a founder of MAPPEN, spoke about her years as a curriculum consultant, “I couldn’t keep up with the requests from principals and curriculum leaders who were concerned that the units being delivered in their schools lacked depth and consistency. However, my work was essentially like a band aid that came off in the bath.”
When she spoke to people outside of the education industry they were constantly surprised by the nature of her work, “they would universally show surprise that teachers had to write their own curriculum. Most people think that the government dictates what is taught and teachers just teach it. It comes as a shock when people hear that every teacher in every school is planning units of work every term.”
She spoke about the decision that she and her business partner Amanda McCallum made in 2007 to stop consulting and begin writing curriculum for teachers. Karen explained that this process, expected to take a year, took more than four, and resulted in MAPPEN which consists of 32 integrated units being delivered by teachers across Australia. “I am very proud of this work, we’re constantly updating the content based on feedback. I believe if you keep moving in the direction that you think is right, you will make a difference.
Danny Ritterman announced the release of New South Wales version of MAPPEN and shared some feedback from Cheryl Binns Principal of Cambridge Park Public School a pilot school in the Sydney area,
“MAPPEN has reduced teacher workload by effectively integrating NSW curriculum outcomes across several learning areas. This reform alone has had a huge impact on teacher workload, it has eased the programming and assessment burden for my teachers, whilst at the same time providing engaging quality learning experiences.”
Danny explained the mission statement of the company is to improve student outcomes by supporting teachers, “We write curriculum and layer in professional learning, it’s a unique solution for teachers and school leaders.”
He continued to describe the unique position that the business found itself in when it began, “Unlike most other education start-ups, for us, the education comes first, and we use technology to enhance our service. We’re not a text book, we even have a Live Chat feature on the site that allows teachers to talk directly with the authors of the curriculum, not a service that most publishers offer.”
Danny proudly welcomed a 10th employee to the business. “We’ve grown from four to 10 in two years, there is real demand out there to lighten the load for teachers, and to ensure we are raising the bar across the school. I think there is a bright future for products like ours”.