Speaking out

Filling the pail

I recently met someone with a senior role in Australian education. As is often the case when talking to someone for the first time, the discussion began with potted biographies. I explained that I had worked in comprehensive schools in London, but when I moved to Australia I struggled to find work in government schools and so I took a post at an independent school. “You probably would not be able to write what you write if you were in a government school,” came the response.

I have been aware for some time that there are restrictions, both formal and informal, on what teachers are allowed to say in public. Government school teachers from New South Wales have told me that they are prohibited from writing anything controversial about education policy. Yet it is teachers at the chalk-face who are best able to comment on the practical effects of policy…

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