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7.1 – Masters, G (2018) What is ‘equity' in education?
Read the paper: What is ‘equity’ in education?
In this Teacher Magazine article, Geoff Masters notes that equity in education is often viewed as equivalence or sameness. He suggests a more useful way to view equity is through the lens of ‘fairness’. He concludes that in an ‘equitable' school system, students' special needs and unequal socioeconomic backgrounds are recognised and resources (for example, teaching expertise) are distributed unequally in an attempt to redress disadvantage due to personal and social circumstances.
“In an ‘equitable’ school system, students’ special needs and unequal socioeconomic backgrounds are recognised, and resources like teaching expertise are distributed unequally in an attempt to redress disadvantage due to personal and social circumstances. Here again, ‘equity’ is achieved by prioritising fairness over equality.” (Masters, G. 2018)
7.2 – Sahlberg, P (2022) Understanding equity in education. Part 1: What is equity?
Read the blog post: Understanding equity in education Part 1: What is equity?
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has advised governments to give equity similar high priority in education policies as they give to excellence (OECD, 2012). Equity is also one of the main goals in the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration (Council of Australian Governments Education Council, 2019). Sahlberg argues that:
- it is becoming clear that a world-class education system is hard to achieve without smarter investments in equity of education
- equality of opportunity is not equity
- there needs to be a new definition of equity, a definition of equity with two facets – individual and social
- it is important to understand that no society can be called a democracy while some social groups continue to be discriminated against in the provision of education or, indeed, in the provision of other public services
- equity in education should be the fundamental education policy goal in Australia.
“Many earlier efforts to define equity in education fall short of adequately combining equality of access and equality of outcomes in education. If we wish to offer world class schools for every child, we need a better definition of what equity in education means.“ (Sahlberg, P. 2022)
7.3 – OECD (2023) Equity and Inclusion in Education - Finding Strength through Diversity
This report presents a general framework for studying diversity, equity and inclusion in education, analysing five key policy areas: governance, resourcing, capacity building, school-level interventions, and monitoring and evaluation.
The report highlights that equity and inclusion matter because digital transformation, green transition, rising inequality, refugee crises and a host of other issues are having a major impact on societies around the world. That impact is being felt in schools, where the variety of backgrounds and cultures present in classrooms is expanding. This increase in diversity has many implications. And it is why it is more important than ever for policymakers and teachers to respond.
Improving equity and inclusion in education is vital to ensuring students have a fair and equal chance of succeeding in later life. This does not only relate to ethnicity, Indigenous or immigrant background. It also includes students with special education needs, of different sexual orientation, gender identity and much more. That diversity creates a diverse set of challenges. At the moment, far too many students fall behind their peers in terms of academic performance, well-being outcomes and future job opportunities. The report argues that by emphasising equitable and inclusive education, it help education systems and teachers focus on the needs of each individual student.
Key points include:
- More equitable and inclusive education helps students achieve their full potential.
- Education systems can take different paths to improve but there are universally relevant key steps.
- Supporting diversity in education can lead to better academic results, careers and help enhance societies.
"Education systems’ policies can create an equitable and inclusive framework for education settings, but their implementation at the school level is what determines students’ daily experiences in classrooms." (OECD, 2023)
7.4 – Hannon, V and Mackay, A (2021) The future of educational leadership: Five signposts
Read page 12-15 of the future of education leadership: five signposts
This paper explores and reflects on the nature of educational leadership post-covid and argues that a new form of leadership is urgently needed, taking into account how our schools fit with and relate to the economy, technology innovations, and the broader society. The authors offer and discuss five ‘signposts’ to indicate the direction that leadership should take.
The third signpost is tolead for equity, involving a relentless campaign to drive equity and redefine it.
The authors argue that we need to broaden the focus so as to encompass the variety of inequalities that beset us: income/wealth; social class; race; caste; gender; sexuality; neurodiversity, etc. Equity is fundamentally about what it is that is valued and how. Whilst ‘equity’ was simplistically conceived of in education as equality of opportunity/outcomes, it did not get to the heart of the question, and it is now apparent that the overarching goal of thriving cannot be achieved without rethinking equity.
The authors identify that “individual educational leaders do have a vital role in promoting equity, if we are to achieve this next stage in humanity’s evolution. Whether as leaders of systems or institutions, the educational leaders for tomorrow need to be prepared to tackle systemic inequity in all its forms. Such preparation entails an understanding of the historical and social processes that have led to our current predicament. This gives rise to the necessary cultural humility and understanding. However, the process also entails the deeply personal: gaining insight into one’s own unrecognised biases, and the sense of privilege and entitlement that can accompany them. Only from this place can authentic leadership for equity arise.
Watch a video from Learning Creates on Educational equity with a focus on senior secondary students to hear further thought from Anthony Mackay
“Leaders in the future need to be advocates for inclusion and diversity, for racial equality; fiercely anti-racist and anti-sexist; agents of change, activists intervening to attack institutional barriers to equity and achieve the power shifts that are necessary to produce justice for all.” (Hannon, V. and Mackay, A. 2021)
7.5 – Council E (2019) The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration
The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration sets out a vision for a world class education system that encourages and supports every student to be the very best they can be, no matter where they live or what kind of learning challenges they may face.
Education Ministers across Australia agreed that the first goal would focus on equity and education: Goal 1: The Australian education system promotes excellence and equity. This means that all Australian Governments will work with the education community to:
- provide all young Australians with access to high-quality education that is inclusive and free from any form of discrimination
- recognise the individual needs of all young Australians, identify barriers that can be addressed, and empower learners to overcome barriers
- promote personalised learning and provide support that aims to fulfil the individual capabilities and needs of learners
- ensure that young Australians of all backgrounds are supported to achieve their full educational potential
- encourage young people to hold high expectations for their educational outcomes, supported by parents, carers, families and the broader community
- ensure that education promotes and contributes to a socially cohesive society that values, respects and appreciates different points of view and cultural, social, linguistic and religious diversity
- ensure that learning is built on and includes local, regional and national cultural knowledge and experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and work in partnership with local communities
- collaborate internationally to share best practice and help young Australians learn about and engage with the world
- support all education sectors – government and non-government, secular and faith-based
- promote a culture of excellence in all learning environments, by providing varied, challenging, and stimulating learning experiences and opportunities that enable all learners to explore and build on their individual abilities, interests, and experiences
- ensure that Australia’s education system is recognised internationally for delivering high quality learning outcomes.
Read the article: Promoting equity is one thing, achieving it is another
“Australian Governments commit to ensuring the education community works to provide equality of opportunity and educational outcomes for all students at risk of educational disadvantage.” (Education Council, 2019)
7.6 – Loble, L (2022) Shaping AI and edtech to tackle Australia’s learning divide
Read the report Shaping Al and edtech to tackle Australia’s learning divide
This paper explores the question Can AI-powered edtech help disrupt entrenched education disadvantage?
Leslie Lobel AM, identifies three key conditions that must be met for optimum impact of edtech in reducing disadvantage:
- the quality of the tools
- their effective use and integration into teacher-led instruction
- the network of policies, institutions and incentives that shape the fast-growing edtech market.
This report identifies model practice in the independent evaluation of edtech initiatives based on their quality and impact. The caveat is that only edtech that is properly designed, used and regulated can have a
demonstrably positive impact on learning outcomes for disadvantaged students.
The report outlines ten recommendations (within four themes) to ensure any edtech that is proposed for use within Australian education priorities, helps to close the digital divide, and is assessed for its proven ability to lift outcomes for all students, especially those with complex needs.
Read Leslie’s response to recent media in The Conversation: Rise of ChatGPT shows why Australia needs a clearer approach to technology in schools
Watch a video of Leslie talking about the report’s recommendations
“Australian students deserve the best quality edtech, proven to deliver learning progress, aligned with our curriculum standards, and meeting or exceeding expectations for learning outcomes and social equity”. (Loble, L. 2022)
7.7 – SA Child Development Council (2022), How are they faring? SA 2022 Report Card for Children and Young People, Government of South Australia
This is the third report of population-level outcomes for children and young people from birth to 18 years under South Australia's Outcomes Framework for Children and Young People (framework). The data reported under the framework’s five legislated dimensions – health, safety, wellbeing, education and citizenship, is to be used to provide an evidence-base that informs strategies, objectives, policies and funding decisions.
In the Wellbeing dimension, the report found that most children and young people in South Australia are happy, inspired and engaged. Of concern are the following trends:
- About three-fifths of the students in Year 4 to Year 10 participating in the WEC reported feeling connected to an adult at school. (Measure is based on the WEC question whether there are any adults who are important to the student at their school.)
- In 2022, 89% of Year 4 to Year 10 students reported that they had one or more friends in whom they could confide, down from 90% in 2019.
- The 2022 WEC data indicate that 82.4% of Year 4 to Year 10 students reported feeling optimistic about life, down from 85.7% in 2019.
- The proportion of Year 4 to Year 10 students that reported medium to high levels of satisfaction with life in 2022 was 79%, down from 80.9% in 2019
- The enrolment rate of Aboriginal three-year-olds in quality preschool programs was 81.5% in 2021, down slightly from 84.1% in 2017.
- The 2022 WEC data indicate that 78.2% of Year 4 to Year 10 Aboriginal students in government schools reported feeling optimistic about life, down from 81.4% in 2019.
- The proportion of Year 4 to Year 10 Aboriginal students in government schools that reported medium to high levels of satisfaction with life in 2022 was 75%, down from 77.2% in 2019.
In the Education dimension, the report found that most children and young people in South Australia have positive experiences of learning. Of concern are the following trends:
- A marginal increase in the proportion of children being developmentally vulnerable is observed between 2015 and 2021.
- The proportion of Year 7 students achieving at or above the national minimum standard in numeracy was highest in 2016 (95.2%) but declined to 92.6% in 2021.
- The proportion of young people (15-19 years) with disability that were partially or fully engaged in school, work or further education in SA was 81.5% in 2021 down from 84.8% in 2016.
- The proportion of Year 7 Aboriginal students achieving at or above the national minimum standard in numeracy has declined continuously from 2016 to 2021.
- The proportion of Aboriginal young people (15-19 years) studying and/or training and/or working was 67.1% in 2021, down from 70.9% in 2016. (The denominator only includes the number of young people aged 15-19 years who gave a valid response in the Census.)
- The proportion of Aboriginal young people (15-19 years) with disability that were partially or fully engaged in school, work or further education was 72.9% in 2021, down from 84.7% in 2016. (The denominator only includes the number of young people with disability aged 15-19 years who gave a valid response in the Census.)
- The school attendance rate for Aboriginal students in Year 1 to Year 10 has been falling from 2017 to 2021
"National comparison shows that, proportionally, more children and young people under 20 years live in disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances in South Australia. In 2021, more than half of all children and young people (53.6%) lived in disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances, compared to 38.9% nationally. Of these, 26% lived with the most disadvantage (19.3% nationally)." (SA Child Development Council, 2022)