Success Is No Accident

Dear Reader,

Back to the Future

The recent announcement by Victorian Education Minister Ben Carroll mandating all Victorian government schools to teach the same type of reading lessons, based on ‘Systematic Synthetic Phonics’, will bring Victoria into line as one of the final states and territories to adopt the change. Under the new model, students from prep to grade 2 will be taught using a structured phonics approach, with a minimum of 25 minutes of daily, explicit teaching of phonics and phonemic awareness.

‘Systematic Synthetic Phonics’ teaches children the sounds of the English language and the letter combinations that make them. Yes – you guessed it – ‘Systematic Synthetic Phonics’ is just jargon for the way I am sure all IPA members learned to read back in the day. But the explicit teaching of phonics was demonised and, starting in the 1970’s, was replaced with ‘student-led inquiry-based learning’ which relies heavily on strategies to guess words based on pictures and context.

If implemented effectively, the return to the explicit, dedicated teaching of phonics is a significant and positive step forward. The reality is, however, the vast majority of teachers in schools today did not learn to read under explicit instruction themselves, nor did they learn about it during their university course and so have little to no understanding of what it means. The announcement runs the risk of being just that – an announcement only.

For program success, teachers must first be taught how to teach properly. (I talk about this in my recent interview with Rita Panahi – see below). But the announcement is an important acknowledgment of the need to address the teaching of foundational literacy skills that has been sadly lacking in our education system for far too long.

The Parent Movement

Moms for America (M4A) is a national movement of mothers (and fathers), whose stated ambition is to reclaim culture for “truth, family freedom and the constitution”. M4A aims to activate, empower and mobilise parents to promote and “advance freedom in our homes, communities and through our vote”.

In local clusters, Mums meet in homes across America, hold cluster events and network in social media groups to build their knowledge about the principles of freedom. These ‘Momma bears’ as they sometimes like to refer to themselves, champion the needs of their children and their right to a quality education. Their voice is loud and clear, demanding an end to the teaching of critical race theories, pornographic sex education and gender manipulation in the name of choice. M4A provides resources to parents to enable them to become educated on the critical issues facing kids and families in public education, including parental rights and how to effectively exercise them, how to effectively engage with the school board or to run for the school board, and how to connect with other parents for encouragement and support.

Moms for Liberty (M4L) founded in 2021, is another and similarly disposed American parents’ rights group addressing the dire consequences of schools’ over-involvement in shaping the moral lives of their offspring.

M4A and M4L and other organisations like them, are harnessing the might of the parents’ rights movement and are making significant inroads into school boards across the country, as they focus on developing the next generation of patriots. Of the 500 candidates M4L endorsed for school boards in 2022, three-quarters of whom had never run before, 275 won. In Florida, the group says, 80 percent of its endorsed candidates won.

The influence of the parents’ rights groups has been significant in the political arena too, where M4A propelled Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to victory in 2021, and M4L has a reach that secured the likes of Florida’s Governor DeSantis and even Donald Trump to speak at their conferences.

Back home in Australia, recent comment by Mrs Gina Rinehart offering her encouragement to establish a ‘Mums for Australia’ has resonated with parents. “If you are concerned about your children and grandchildren being exposed to such things instead of facts, logic, and reason, it’s time to have a Mums for Australia start and flourish here,” Mrs Rinehart said. “I understand a rough estimate is that woke, anti-Australia and similar propaganda takes up approximately one-third of the school curriculums in Australia and while it’s not easy to stand up, people do need to consider speaking up for the sake of our children and grandchildren,” Mrs Rinehart said. [Read here]

With NAPLAN results showing an alarming one in three students not meeting minimum numeracy and literacy expectations, and the NAPP-CC results indicating only 38 per cent of students are able to display a sufficient level of understanding of the significance and history of our democracy and our shared values, the ‘progressive’ agenda of the National Curriculum has ensured a regression, not progression, of our education standards.

Part of Class Action’s agenda is to openly discuss and highlight these issues in education in the community. Indeed, the reason Class Action exists is to assist in the growth of Australian boys and girls who are a credit to themselves, their communities and the nation. The steady growth of our curriculum materials, connections, presentations and media presence, shows that there is a growing recognition of the need, and appetite for positive conversations about Australia.

We can only do what we do because of your support, which is critical to keeping up the momentum of Class Action. The IPA neither seeks nor receives any government funding.

If you have already made a donation to the IPA’s End of Financial Year Appeal, thank you!

If you have not, please consider making an online tax-deductible donation to the IPA’s appeal.

Make a donation to support 2024 IPA End of Financial Year Appeal

How did we get here?

In my last newsletter we identified that in any school year, students observe thirteen different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Culture ‘name-days’, and several weeks dedicated to ATSI issues. This is in addition to the ‘cross curriculum priority’ in the National Curriculum that mandates the embedding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Culture into every subject at every year level. However, what is all but absent in the curriculum, is consideration and recognition of the lives some pioneering Australians lived and the significant contributions they made. 

‘Investigating Pioneers Who Made Australia’ is a Class Action series of evidence-based investigative biographies of selected Australians from the past whose actions shaped the Australian nature and identity, helping make our nation what it is today. This series is relevant to aspects of History, English and Civics & Citizenship at various year levels from Years 4-5 and 9-10. When complete, the ‘Pioneers suite’ will consist of detailed classroom units on ten pioneers. 

Class Action is pleased to launch number two of our ten Pioneers – a unit on pioneering pastoralist Sidney Kidman. As with all Class Action material this unit provides teachers with the curriculum markers to justify its use and all the resources required to implement it in the classroom.

You can download ‘Sidney Kidman’ here:

Australian Pioneers - Caroline Chisholm-Teacher-and-Student-Guide

Class Action out and about

You can view my latest interview with Rita Panahi on Sky News on the teacher shortage ... and the underlying problems the government and universities refuse to address. I do get annoyed when people claim that we are anti-teacher, which is not the case at all. IPA research is overwhelmingly concerned with critiquing the system in which teachers manage (somehow) to operate. So, amongst other things I said to Rita was this:

“The real issue is that teaching as a profession is not really appealing to most people at the moment because of the conditions of the curriculum, of having the cross-curriculum priorities of prioritising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders history and cultures and sustainability ahead of the skill set that the children require.”

Australian Pioneers - Caroline Chisholm-Teacher-and-Student-Guide


You know I like to finish my monthly updates to you with a quote. This month, I finish with one of my own – a statement I frequently make when presenting to parent groups:

“Always remember, your child is not a ward of the state”.

Colleen Harkin

National Manager, Class Action Program and Research Fellow