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What reforms does Australia’s education system need?

by Staff

What reforms does Australia’s education system need?

In March, the Federal Government announced an Expert Panel, chaired by Dr Lisa O’Brien, to advise on the key targets and reforms to be tied to school funding in the next National School Reform Agreement (NSRA).

Informing this Panel is a Ministerial Reference Group – chaired by Minister Clare and made up of teachers, principals, students, parent organisations, education unions, and other education experts and stakeholders – that will act as “a sounding board and source of advice”.

With just a few months remaining before the Panel is due to deliver its final report to the Federal Government, prominent voices in education are calling for bold reforms that do away with the thinking that caused the very problems schools are now trying to fix.

But when it comes to what reforms Australia’s schools need, it depends on who you ask.

To find out what kind of education system Australians want to see, Minister Clare released a new school reform consultation paper, which will accept submissions from the public until 11.59pm (AEST) on 2 August 2023.

Following the release of the consultation paper, Australian Education Union deputy federal president, Meredith Peace highlighted the need for smaller class sizes, more manageable workloads and “real action” on uncompetitive salaries and career structures for public school staff.

However, Peace said the most pressing issue the sector faces – growing inequity in Australia’s school funding system – is not even addressed in the government’s consultation paper.

“This is a massive oversight and if it remains unaddressed will mean yet another generation of public school students will miss out on full and fair funding for their education,” she said.

“If the Federal Government is serious about building a school system based on equity and excellence, as the consultation paper suggests, they must deliver full and fair funding for every public school student. Resources delayed are resources denied.”

Meanwhile, Australia’s Catholic schools want to see national policy initiatives become more aligned to student outcomes and centered on a strong evidence base, with better planning and costed outcomes.

National Catholic Education Commission president, Jacinta Collins, said the sector is also pushing for greater consultation in the development of national and bilateral agreements with the non-government sector from the outset, and funding for teacher professional learning opportunities.

“These should include support for teacher curriculum implementation and developing rich formative assessment resources,” Collins told The Educator.

Collins also highlighted the importance of support the implementation of consistent, high-quality standards in initial teacher education and a national approach to child protection and safety registration.

Independent Schools Australia CEO, Graham Catt has been contacted for comment.

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