It is time for a new narrative on schools in Australia. Lifting Australia’s performance on international assessments depends on top-class teaching and learning that meets the needs of all students in all settings. The Alignment Premium focuses on how high-performing countries achieve strategic policy alignment; and how school leaders are professionally prepared to play their part.
Analysis of approaches used in 13 countries, including most of the world’s top-performers, provides 15 benchmarks against which Australia’s performance is assessed. Findings include:
- Alignment among different levels of government may be commendable in some respects, but there is much that is coercive, contrived, dysfunctional or illusory;
- While achieving a top-ten ranking will depend on what occurs in schools, attention should shift to how systems are adapting to support all schools to become as good as Australia’s best;
- Lack of trust and inertia are serious constraints on efforts to transform Australia’s schools.
Programs for professional learning of teachers and school leaders are impressive when assessed against international benchmarks. These should be the top priority. Building on findings in The Autonomy Premium, the focus should be on professional autonomy. The challenge is to design a system in which all those who work in or for schools are fully professional.
The Alignment Premium is essential reading for policy-makers, school leaders and researchers who wish to write the new narrative.