Although the OECD has recognised Australia’s education spend is above average, a new report from the Grattan Institute has shown that education gaps between different students are widening.
The Widening Gaps report shows the lag between student whose parents have a low education themselves versus those students with parents of a high education grows from just 10 months in Year 3 to 2.5 years by the time they reach Year 9.
Co-author of the report and Director of Grattan’s School Education Program, Peter Goss told SBS News the findings are “alarming”.
“Students who start behind fall much further behind so that by Year 9 the top students in a class might be up to seven years ahead of where the bottom students are,” Mr Goss said.
The report also shows students from a disadvantaged background were also likely to be one or two years behind by Year 9.
Rather than advocate for further funding, the report suggests that teachers could be provided with better information, allowing them to better identify the various levels of learning from student to student.
The Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham said the report shows that providing a quality educations must take into account much more than adequate funding levels.
“This report validates our focus on teacher quality and demonstrates that we need to ensure all teachers are skilled in ensuring every student in a class is progressing, with a years’ worth of learning equating to a years’ worth of progression, to the best of their abilities.
“Australia is investing record funding in education that will continue to grow, all targeted based on need, and the Turnbull Government is focused on improving student outcomes through measures we know are effective – teacher quality, a better curriculum, greater parental engagement and support for principals to make local decisions about their local school,” he said.