World News

Education Minister Urges for Closing the Education Gap in Response to Panel’s Review

What this report showed us yesterday is that we have one of the most segregated school systems in the OECD. Education Minister Jason Clare has vowed to close the funding gap between public and private schools, saying that students from poor families are “three times more likely to fall behind.” The comment came in light of a comprehensive independent panel’s review released on Dec. 11, which is set to affect policy making in the next five years. The panel was set up ahead of the National School Reform Agreement (NSRA) report which was postponed until 2025. The NSRA would set out multi-year reform objectives and funding arrangements for schooling that the Commonwealth and state governments need to follow.

The panel’s much-anticipated report identified seven main challenges that Australia’s education system faces, including declining learning outcomes, growing equity gap, mental health and wellbeing issues, teacher shortages, limitations in data, and lack of transparency in funding arrangements.

Following the report’s release, the education minister has repeated his call to fix the funding gap and “level the playing field.” “What this report showed us yesterday is that we have one of the most segregated school systems in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Not by the colour of your skin, but by the size of your parents’ pay packet,” he told ABC Radio on Dec. 12. “We’ve got to close this education gap.”

When asked whether he would create requirements for schools to reach national targets along with the funding increase, Mr. Clare said, “the short answer to that is there are no blank cheques here.” In another interview, he said the government would also work to fix the education course at university. “Only one in two people who start a teaching degree actually finish it,” he told the Today show on Dec. 12. “And a lot of people who finish the course don’t feel prepared for the classroom once they get to school. So, we’ve got to improve that curriculum.”

At a meeting of education ministers on Dec. 11, Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said the report’s recommendation to fund 100 percent of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) wasn’t realistic enough. The SRS is an estimate of how much total taxpayer funding a school needs to educate each student. “How do I deliver [support to students] in the Torres Strait, where we’re even struggling to get teachers, let alone catch-up classes?’’ she said, according to The Australian.

Panel’s Key Recommendations
To lift students’ outcomes, the expert panel’s report suggested schools opt for explicit teaching methods and give “targeted and tailored” support for struggling students through programs such as universal screening for literacy and numeracy and catch up tutoring. Universal screening is “the most effective and cost-efficient way” to help any student at risk of scoring below average level by early identification and providing “the help they need to catch up.” It estimated that all schools will have a Year 1 phonics check by the end of 2026 and a numeracy check by the end of 2028.

“While Australia is performing well, there is a significant opportunity to strengthen our education system,” the panel said. “The significant proportion of students who are falling behind indicates that despite the significant efforts of systems and schools, current approaches are not providing all students with foundational literacy and numeracy skills.”

Report Urges To Achieve ‘Equity’ In Schooling
In order to achieve “equity in schooling,” the report proposed to inject funds into government schools, up to 100 percent of the SRS, which was backed by the unions. Public schools in all jurisdictions except the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) are, on average, “yet to be funded to 100 percent of the SRS,” while private schools in all jurisdictions except the Northern Territory (NT) are, on average, “funded at or above their full funding level.” Mr. Clare told the ABC that at the current trajectory, public school funding will not reach 100 percent of the SRS. “It’s either at 95 percent in some states today, or it will get to 95 percent by the end of the decade,” he said. “In the case of the Northern Territory, never. And that’s the gap that we need to fix.”

The expert panel also noted that students from the lowest socio-economic backgrounds are “more than four times as likely” to have developmental issues in language and cognitive skills than students from the most advantaged background. “The fact that inequality in funding persists—and is predicted to persist in nearly every jurisdiction—is an issue that requires urgent action,” the report noted, adding that the issue is “particularly acute in the NT.” The report further suggested that the best teachers should be incentivised to work in poorer areas where there’s a concentration of disadvantaged students.

Expert Weighs In
Glenn Fahey, education expert at the Centre for Independent Studies, said a sole focus on school funding was ineffective. “So-called ‘needs-based’ funding doesn’t work unless it’s used to ensure that the very best teachers in the system find their way to the very neediest of students,” he argued in an opinion piece for The Australian Financial Review. “Rather than pumping in more money across-the-board, it could be better invested to bring champion teachers to schools in dire need of turnaround.” He noted that Mr. Clare had previously committed to placing performance targets on the states and urged him to “stay true to this mission.”

Other recommendations in the report include connecting schools with community health and wellbeing services, raising pay and improving conditions for teachers, fast-tracking teaching degrees, and forming a “data custodian” body to track government funding and data-sharing. The next national school reform agreement is set to be finalised in 2024 and start in 2025.

Source link


I'm TruthUSA, the author behind TruthUSA News Hub located at With our One Story at a Time," my aim is to provide you with unbiased and comprehensive news coverage. I dive deep into the latest happenings in the US and global events, and bring you objective stories sourced from reputable sources. My goal is to keep you informed and enlightened, ensuring you have access to the truth. Stay tuned to TruthUSA News Hub to discover the reality behind the headlines and gain a well-rounded perspective on the world.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.