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Adrian Piccoli criticises NAPLAN changes, attitudes to education in Australia

Adrian Piccoli criticises NAPLAN changes, attitudes to education in Australia
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Former Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has criticised a move by the Berejiklian Government to divorce year 9 NAPLAN testing from HSC. 

The NSW Government scrapped a policy that saw year nine students required to score three band eights in NAPLAN to qualify for the HSC following pressure from teachers and parents alike. 

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes said by linking NAPLAN to HSC “year 9 NAPLAN scores inadvertently transformed NAPLAN into a high stakes test”. 

The longtime Member for Murray said there isn’t enough focus on better equipping students for exams.

“It did make NAPLAN more important, but the instead of the general view being about how can we help our kids cope with a more stressful situation, the response was about how we can get rid of the stressful situation itself,” he said. 

“There’s this expectation that nothing should be hard.” 

Under the new changes, students will now meet the HSC minimum standard through short online tests in numeracy, reading and writing. 

“We wonder why we have so much anxiety in teenagers and beyond where people are having trouble with stress or failure because they aren’t exposed to it until their HSC,” he said. 

Almost 70 per cent of year 9 students did not meet the requirements during 2016. 

“A lot of parents get more worked up about sport at school than how their kids are doing at school. And then the country goes into meltdown each time the NAPLAN results come out,” Mr Piccoli said at the time. 

“I don’t think any individual is complacent about their kids’ education, but is there this broader thing about the value we place on education?”

Mr Piccoli served as Education Minister under O’Farrell and Baird Governments between 2011 and January 2017. 

When asked about last week’s comments, Mr Piccoli referred to the blame often placed on teachers in the wake of bad results.

When looking at education in Australia, he feels we need to consider a range of factors both in and outside of schools. 

“I raised a question about what kind of role Australian attitudes toward education play.” he said.

He says it’s time we move beyond simply criticising teachers and principals. 

“To address our performance in education we have to look at what’s happening in schools of course. But there are cultural attitudes outside school that affect the way children perform.” 

He was a strong proponent of the Gonksi education reforms during his time in office. 

”When teachers don’t command as much respect and authority in schools, we need to look at why that is outside of schools?” he said  

“I think we’ve dropped the standard we expect of children in education, culturally speaking.” 



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