An artist's impression of the new Ballina Coast High School.
An artist's impression of the new Ballina Coast High School.

School report shows need for change

A NEW school system is needed if Australian educational standards are to be maintained, or better, increased.

This is according to a new report issued by the NSW Business Chamber.

The report, Old School/ New School: Transforming school education for the 21st century, is the latest in the Chamber's Thinking Business series.

It highlights seven features how a new school system would look:

  • Responsibility is shared by Government, educators, parents, students and industry;
  • Innovative ways of teaching and learning, as well as tried and tested approaches are implemented Australia-wide
  • Evidence informed practice is supported and educators have the knowledge they need to succeed;
  • Teachers are celebrated for their success, attracting the best and brightest;
  • Schools harness technology to facilitate a richer learning experience for students
  • Education is inclusive and all students have the opportunity to learn and succeed; and
  • Schools promote educational pathways that release the potential of all young people.


"Our education system in NSW has long delivered quality outcomes for students and society as a whole. Here in the Northern Rivers we have many great schools, passionate and dedicated teachers, and parents who aspire to help their children succeed," Regional Manager Northern Rivers Jane Laverty said.

"Together with education influencers, policymakers, parents, the business community and young people, the NSW Business Chamber has come up with a vision for the New School system of the 21st century. We wanted to take the very best of our Old School system and combine this with new world thinking to help the next wave of young people."

Brighter future

Ms Laverty cites the new $40m Ballina Coast High School as an example of featuring the latest innovative classroom design, ensuring students will learn in the best possible environment when it opens in 2019.

"Students and teachers are looking forward to flexible learning spaces that will enable group and individual projects that require research, problem-solving and critical thinking," she said.

"I have been told the new curriculum will be extensive and innovative with a "choose your own adventure" flavour."

Ms Laverty said the report is based on hours of one-on-one interviews as well as a full day forum with senior educators, student groups, teachers, parents, academics, administrators and business leaders.

"The great thing was that everyone we spoke to acknowledged that while our NSW school system delivers quality outcomes for many, we can't rest on our laurels. We must look at ways to transform our schools to meet the needs of society in the digital age," she said.

"The origins of the Higher School Certificate, for example, lie in the 1950s, and it is overwhelmingly geared toward students who plan to progress to higher education.

"With the increase in the minimum school leaving age, the HSC needs to be revamped so that all students obtain benefit from those final two years in the classroom."

One school's way

Ms Laverty said Richmond River High School's science teacher Scott Hogden is working in partnership wit Southern Cross University and TAFE to deliver a creative initiative that involves students taking charge of their own education while exercising critical thinking skills.

"Student groups are given science problems to solve using a 'collective ideas', or team-based approach. This mirrors what happens in the modern workplace where we don't work in silos but in project-based teams," she said.

"Short of cloning Scott, what can we do to help all teachers succeed and learn to be the best educators they can be?

"As our report proposes, one way to do this is through creating professional learning hubs where teachers within a single school can share their knowledge about the innovative teaching approaches that work."

Building a New School now

This is one of the six ideas the Report proposes to start building a 'New School' system now:

  • Pilot proven teaching and learning approaches to scale
  • Collect and publish data tracking student progress, performance and outcomes
  • Revamp the HSC to set all students on the right pathway to work
  • Recognise teachers and support their development through professional learning hubs, supported by an opt-in mentoring program
  • Ensure every child in every school can access support services, including comprehensive careers advice and targeted mentoring for high risk students and;
  • Integrate enterprise skills in curriculum and measure their attainment from Year 9 on.


Further information on the NSW Business Chamber's report and Old School/New School campaign can be found at