Often discipline is seen as a form of punishment in the schools system. It’s actually an essential component of an orderly, productive learning environment. In any part of life, without structure and stability, it is difficult to absorb information. Classroom chaos is the enemy of a keen student, eager to learn.
With the decline in the status of teaching and NSW school standards, student behaviour has also fallen away. For instance, police reports of violence on school grounds increased by nearly a third in 2017-18. In OECD rankings, Australian students rank poorly on various measures of classroom behaviour: 32 percent don’t listen to what the teacher says (versus an OECD average of 24 percent); 33 percent of classrooms have too much noise and disorder (24 percent OECD average); and in 29 percent of cases, the teacher waits too long for students to quieten down (19 percent OECD average).
Anecdotal evidence is also disturbing. As the former NSW Labor MP and long-serving English teacher, Peter Crawford, has said, “You can throw all the Gonski money under the sun at schools but it makes no difference unless teachers have control of their classrooms. In many state comprehensive schools, discipline is out of control, making classrooms unworkable. One has to experience teaching in one of these schools to realise the extent of this horrible problem. Another elephant in the room is that discipline often relates to the ethnicity of the student population in a given school.”
In many schools, multiple excuses are made for bad behaviour, such as mental health, stress, home-related problems and even gender confusion. Rationalisations have replaced proper school leadership in trying to overcome the crisis of classroom chaos. For instance, regional offices have become apologists for failing principals and failing schools. There was a time when school inspectors tried to solve these problems – a vigorous process of classroom accountability.
One Nation believes in facing up honestly to this issue. We want a learning environment in which good, hard working students can prosper, without being held back by the misbehaviour of others. This means putting teachers at the centre of classroom activity, enjoying the respect and attention of the students around them.
In the modern trend, teachers are acting as ‘facilitators’, with students roaming the Internet or picking the topics they feel like doing, as part of ‘project-based learning’ in ‘open-plan classrooms’. This is a recipe for ill-discipline among students, downgrading the authority and role of teachers. This fad should be abandoned, with teachers resuming their role as learning instructors and mentors at the centre of classroom activity.
One Nation believes there should be zero tolerance of poor behaviour in schools. We have a five-point policy for restoring discipline to classrooms:
Ensuring teachers gain the respect and attention of students by placing themselves at the centre of the learning process through direct instruction and interaction.
Placing hardcore troublemakers in special schools, instead of going through the current futile cycle of warnings/suspensions/renewed classroom problems.
Getting regional office staff out into schools and classrooms, acting as inspectors who report on and resolve chronic behavioural problems.
An increased emphasis on vocational training from Year 7 onwards. Troubled students need to find learning interests that make their schooldays better focused and more satisfying.
Banning mobile phones in schools other than for necessary contact with parents.
One Nation expects the NSW education system to be unequivocally pro-Australia and pro-Western civilisation. Education is one of our great civilisational achievements, so how could it ever turn against the values and culture that created it? The only reason would be political infiltration, the rise of mutant Leftist ideology, disparaging Australia and the European people and know-how that arrived here in 1788.
NSW schools must teach respect for Australia and its important national traditions, such as freedom, the fair go principle (meritocracy), ANZAC Day, Australia Day and the national flag and anthem. Australian history must reflect an accurate account of our many outstanding national achievements, balanced by errors made in the early colonial period with regard to the treatment of Indigenous Australians. It must not become an exercise in post-modernist revisionism, a black armband view of the Australian story.
We have much to be proud of as a nation, and students should unashamedly feel this pride – one of the basics of good citizenship. Schools must respect Australia’s other civilisational foundations, such as the importance of Christianity and its celebration of Christmas and Easter. Merit-selection must guide school practices, abandoning discriminatory identity quotas in the selection of representative teams.
One Nation will promote these values and institutions within the NSW education system. In particular, we will:
Ensure all NSW school students learn the words and history of the National Anthem. There will be zero tolerance of students who disrespect the national anthem and/or flag with political-style protests.
Promote the importance of Australia Day and Anzac Day as two commemorations of national achievement and unity. Schools need to teach their students about the value of both days, understanding that love of Australia is a natural emotion in life.
In the teaching of Australian history, ensure the emphasis is on a balanced understanding of our national success story. As a country, we have never done enough to appreciate the courage and work of the early settlers in turning a penal colony into a civilisation – one of the great achievements in human history. It is essential for schools to fill this gap in how young Australians understand the history of great leaders like Lachlan Macquarie.
Ensure that outside political influences are kept out of schools. There should be no repeat in NSW of the Queensland Labor practice of allowing trade unionists in schools, teaching Year 9-12 students about militant unionism.