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What kind of children will we get out of this?

Education policy in times of performance


Australia is no stranger to torrid education policy debates. The recent difficult passage of the Gonski 2.0 funding package is the latest example, in some respects a discourse that has abandoned education for funding, testing and world rankings.

The Whitlam Institute’s latest Perspectives paper is by Justine Grønbæk Pors, Associate Professor in the Copenhagen Business School. It makes a claim for a deeper conversation about education, which is captured in the title of this paper: What kind of children will we get out of this?

Drawing on the Danish experience, Grønbæk Pors exposes the underlying dynamics of the focus on performance at the expense of learning. The Denmark studies, highlighting the emphasis on test scores, provide comparable lessons for Australian schooling.

Research shows that standardised testing and educational rankings continue to have adverse effects on children and young people. Australia’s NAPLAN has moved us no closer to improved outcomes but instead it has contributed to increased anxiety and stress amongst young people.

As educators in Denmark and Australia face an inescapable expectation to do more with less, school principals are required to shift their focus from education to management, and education rankings dominate political and policy discussion, Associate Professor Justine Grønbæk Pors challenges these approaches.

Grønbæk Pors offers ‘an invitation to the stakeholders of public education to have conversations about the purposes of education in a way that escapes the black and white imperative of current policies where you are either working towards better performance or posing an obstacle to it’. Read the paper.

This publication forms part of Perspectives - essays on contemporary public policy published by the Whitlam Institute in which respected public intellectuals put forward their views and canvass ideas on policies that shape a better, fairer Australia. Perspectives encourages creative, bold thinking and new ways of looking at the challenges of the 21st century to spark thought and debate among the community and policy makers. More


Read the paper:


Associate Professor Grønbæk Pors discusses the key elements of her paper What kind of children will we get out of this? 

A call for space for professional dialogue and reflection.

What does education need to be if we still want democratic socities?

It's challenging to be a teacher in a time where we're asked to do more with less.

Media enquiries: Lyndal Howison | 0404 854 033 | l.howison@westernsydney.edu.au