Flying the flag for mainstream Australia

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  • Published 20060307
  • ISBN: 9780733316210
  • Extent: 268 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

ON JUNE 2004, the Prime Minister, John Howard, and the former Federal Minister for Education, Brendan Nelson, announced a new $31 billion federal education package in which funding would be tied to a National Values Framework.[i] The increased government support would be contingent on the implementation of several policy initiatives “that will underpin the Australian Government’s national priorities, shaping our schools over the next decade”. These requirements included two hours of compulsory exercise for students every week, adoption of a national safe-schools framework and installation of a “functioning flagpole” to fly the Australian flag. “This is a major investment in Australia’s future,” their joint media release promised. “It will leave us better equipped to face the global future and help us build on our long traditions of innovation and technical excellence.”[ii]

While it was not made clear exactly how the teaching and learning of these values might be undertaken, their importance was obvious: they would educate the nation, there would be reporting measures to ensure schools were being held accountable, and they were intrinsic to “Australia’s future”. The initiative was designed to support greater national consistency in schooling, such as a standard school starting age and the promotion of educational standards. “Better reporting to parents”, “transparency of school performance”, and “making values a core part of schooling” framed the policy. Moreover, “every school must have a functioning flagpole, fly the Australian flag and display the values framework in a prominent place in the school, as a condition of funding”.[iii]

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