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How to flip one of the world’s largest school systems

Co-editing ‘Flip the System Australia: What Matters in Education’ has given Cameron Paterson plenty of food for thought about change in Australian education.

Three boys sit at a desk across from a teacher, who is pointing to a sheet of paper on the desk.

Cameron Paterson teaches students at the Shore School in Sydney.

As the co-editor of a book full of contributions from some of Australia’s best education minds, Shore School mentor of teaching and learning Cameron Paterson has had many opportunities to consider the changes he’d like to see in education systems the world over.

The book, the fourth instalment in the Flip the System series after the UK, Swedish and Dutch editions, gave Mr Paterson the opportunity to ask how Australia could put “teachers more in the driver’s seat”.

Discussing the book with Secretary Mark Scott on the Every Student Podcast, Mr Paterson said that having teachers as a core part of the education discussion was vital.

“When you turn on your news and there is a conversation occurring about education ... very, very rarely will you see an educator involved in those conversations,” Mr Paterson said.

“It’s usually people talking about schools, rather than people in schools talking about what is going on. It’s people talking about teachers.”

The discussion also turned to the role of teaching standards, with Mr Paterson saying that while teachers should be learning from their colleagues and implementing evidence-based approaches, one-size-fits-all approaches rarely succeeded.

“We run into problems when the standards are the driver rather than reinforcing what’s happening in the classroom,” he said.

“I think standards are useful in many, many respects but quite often what I’m seeing on a daily basis is many of my colleagues who are slaves to the standards, who won’t look outside the standards, who are spending enormous amounts of time preparing evidence to satisfy standards, rather than focusing on the needs of their students.”

Listen to the full episode:

Read the transcript of Every Student Podcast: Cameron Paterson.

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