The release of a plan to improve student achievement and school performance offers a wide-ranging blueprint that includes more individualised learning plans.
Through Growth to Achievement: Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools, also known as Gonski 2.0 after the chair of the review panel, David Gonski, was released on 30 April.
The panel consulted with a broad range of stakeholders and experts, and received nearly 300 submissions from teachers, principals, professional associations, teachers unions, parents and carers, school systems, state and territory governments, researchers, universities, community organisations, and business and industry.
In his executive summary, Mr Gonski states: “Australia has a strong educational heritage and committed educators.
“Since 2000, however, academic performance has declined when compared to other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, suggesting that Australian students and schools are not improving at the same rate and are falling short of achieving the full learning potential of which they are capable,” he wrote.
The report says school education must prepare students for a complex and rapidly changing world. As routine manual and administrative activities are increasingly automated, more jobs will require a higher level of skill, and more school leavers will need skills that are not easily replicated by machines, such as problem-solving, interactive and social skills, and critical and creative thinking.
The report identifies three priorities in the country’s education, and goes on to make 23 recommendations across five areas.
The priorities are to deliver at least one year’s growth in learning for every student every year; equip every child to be a creative, connected and engaged learner in a rapidly changing world; and cultivate an adaptive, innovative and continuously improving education system.
The review panel heard that the fundamentals for supporting all students do not change and personalised learning and teaching based on each child’s learning needs, is effective at improving educational outcomes.
“This holds regardless of a student’s circumstances, whether they are students with disability, students in rural or remote locations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, those from non-English speaking backgrounds, low socio-economic backgrounds, gifted and talented students, or any combination of these,” Gonski 2.0 states.
The recommendations came under five themes: laying the foundations for learning; equipping every student to grow and succeed in a changing world; creating, supporting and valuing a profession of expert educators: empowering and supporting school leaders: and lifting aspirations with quality assurance, data and evidence-based research.
Minister for Education Simon Birmingham welcomed the report as a clear plan on which to build a stronger school system and ensure schools, teacher and parents have the tools and capabilities to ensure students reach their full potential.
“I welcome the widespread support for reform across primary and secondary education stakeholders, as well as throughout government, Catholic and independent school sectors and from various parent, welfare and business organisations,” Mr Birmingham said. “I hope that the constructive reactions of key education stakeholders are mirrored in the approach taken by the states and territories.”
The full report can be viewed here.