10 September 2009




New Authority to Assess and Report on Australian Schools

On September 3 2009 Australian Education Ministers in a Joint Media Release with the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment Training and Youth Affairs announced the membership of the new Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).They claimed that ACARA will be a key driver of the new era of transparency and quality in all Australian schools.

The Council of Australian Governments agreed in October 2008 that the new authority would be responsible for the management of curriculum, assessment and reporting at the national level. The Authority will be led by a 13 member Board of Directors made up of experts nominated by each of the Australian and State and Territory Governments as well as the Catholic and Independent school sectors. The membership of ACARA has also been agreed to by all state and territory Education Ministers through the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA).

The Release also announced that the establishment of ACARA will also enable the realisation of key commitments in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. One of these commitments was improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged young Australians, especially those from Indigenous and low socioeconomic backgrounds. DOGS note that, like so many government reports, this document is full of other motherhood statements but no mention is made of WHY disadvantaged children are still provided with sub-standard educational opportunities while schools for the wealthy are showered with taxpayers’ money.



ACARA will be led by Professor Barry McGaw and Mr. Tony Mackay, with representatives from all states and territories and the non-government sector. DOGS have already produced Press releases on the background of Barry McGaw and Mr. Tony McMackay in Press Releases 239 at

They are no friends of public education. The following are the members of the Board. DOGS note that there are representatives of both the Roman Catholic and Dependent School sector but not representatives of public school teachers or parents on this board. So much for the rhetoric of accountability and transparency with parents!

Professor Barry McGaw 


Mr. Tony Mackay

Deputy Chair

Mr. Tom Legionaries 

Board Member (New South Wales)

Mr. John Firth 

Board Member (Victoria)

Ms Lesley Englert 

Board Member (Queensland)

Ms Helen Wildash 

Board Member (South Australia)

Professor Bill Louden

Board Member (Western Australia)

Mr David Hanlon

Board Member (Tasmania)

Ms Debbie Efthymiades

Board Member (Northern Territory)

Ms Dianne Kerr

Board Member (Australian Capital Territory)

Mr Angus James 

Board Member (Australian Government)

Mr Garry Le Duff  

Board Member (Independent Schools Council of Australia)

Dr Brian Croke

Board Member (National Catholic Education Commission)

ACARA will report not report to parents or taxpayers. The Board will report to all Australian Education Ministers through the Ministerial Council.

a week later, on 9 September, Julia Gillard announced the appointment of Dr Peter Hill as Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).

She promoted Dr Hill, currently Senior Advisor to the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority, has more than 20 years experience in the fields of curriculum and assessment. He is expected to begin his new role on 28 September 2009.

Peter Hill will work closely with ACARA’s board, especially the chair, Professor Barry McGraw and with all education Ministers through the Ministerial Council, MCEECDYA. Peter Hill is a career educationist who started off as a geography teacher. Before he went to the University of Melbourne as a Professor then overseas to Washington and Hong Kong, he was the Chief General Manager of the Department of School Education in Victoria (1989-1992) and Chairperson and Chief Executive of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Board (1986-1989). When DOGS requested a statement of his commitment to public education from him as an administrator of the system in the early 1990s they were met with silence.

The Role of ACARA in Identifying ‘Failed’ Schools

Julia Gillard is setting up an instrument similar to OFSTED in the United Kingdom which can assess and identify schools which are allegedly failing. All the angst about publishing or not publishing league tables by newspapers is of no importance.  Julia Gillard is going to use ACARA to do it for her. In her media release she says:

At the end of the year, ACARA will publish school profiles online for the very first time. The profile of each school, government and non-government, will provide accurate data on individual school performance and important, relevant data about school context.

The school profiles will include results from the 2008 and 2009 National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN).

The National Summary Report for 2009 NAPLAN will be released on Friday 11 September and will outline results for each State and Territory. Parents of years 3, 5, 7 and 9 students will receive reports outlining their child’s results from Monday 14 September.

She claims that these transparency measures will give parents, teachers and the public much better information about the performance of our schools and allow governments to better target additional resources.

Julia Gillard must believe that public school principals, teachers and parents have no experience of disadvantaged children or sense of history. They know where the pockets of neglect, disadvantage and inequalities lie. The disadvantaged children are rarely found in the Roman Catholic and Dependent school sector. They are in the public school sector and are caused by billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money being used to prop up sectarian schools for those in search of the first class ticket to heaven and the good job.



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