Think about it. A government high school in one of the poorer Melbourne suburbs, St Albans Secondary College, is a place where student leaders say to visitors - "you know the teachers are not just here for the pay, they're here for us." And where relief teachers volunteer that "this is a great school because you can really teach here." Not something you would ever hear in the chaotic and exclusionist world of Ja'mie, but it turns out to be the more arresting and under-reported reality that Maxine McKew describes in Class Act.
Through a series of conversations with some of the most prominent thinkers in education and an examination of culture and academic change in six Australian schools, Class Act invites reflection on one of our most pressing national dilemmas – how we replicate success across a fragmented system and reverse the decline in student performance.
Recognizing that as a country we have a remarkable capacity for gnawing away at our deficiencies, Maxine McKew calls for a reality check; a thoughtful examination of the transformation that’s underway in some of Australia’s most challenged schools. In many cases the turnaround is remarkable.
Class Act is Maxine McKew’s second book, following the success of her political memoir Tales From the Political Trenches. At a time of intense and often acrimonious debate around the funding of Australian schools, Class Act will appeal to parents, teachers and policy-makers alike with the freshness of its stories and frank accounts of the joys and pit-falls of learning in the new millennia. Above all, McKew calls for a ceasefire in the education wars – the largely irrelevant arguments over choice of schooling and governance issues – and makes the case for moving beyond the politics of distraction. It’s time we learnt from the best.
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