The latest PISA measures of international education results are shocking for Australia – our worst ever – and it’s clear that something is going wrong. The first Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling tried to ensure that differences in educational outcomes should not be because of ‘differences in wealth, income, power, or possessions’. We like to think of ourselves as an egalitarian country and home of the ‘fair go’, yet one in six Australian children live in poverty and UNICEF rates us one of the most unfair nations when it comes to childhood education. International studies show that countries with better performing school systems tend to also have fairer school systems. So, are attempts at quick fixes in schools not only failing to solve the problems, but actually manufacturing inequality in our education system?
Pasi Sahlberg is a Finnish educator and author who has worked as schoolteacher, teacher educator, researcher, and policy advisor in Finland and has studied education systems, analysed education policies, and advised education reforms around the world. He has written and spoken widely about how to improve learning in all schools and why strengthening equity and equality are the best ways to build school system where all children can succeed. He is author of award-winning book “Finnish Lessons 2.0: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland” and his latest book with William Doyle is “Let the Children Play: Why more play will save our schools and help children thrive”. He is a professor of education policy at the Gonski Institute for Education, University of New South Wales and lives in Sydney with his wife and two children.