Children’s education charity The Smith Family says it’s optimistic the commitment of education ministers, and a new expert report informing education reform, will lead to improved outcomes for students most in need – but the time to act is now.
Education Minister Jason Clare yesterday released an expert report delivered to Education Ministers in October. The report, Improving Outcomes for All: The Report of the Independent Expert Panel’s Review to Inform a Better and Fairer Education System, highlights areas of reform focus for governments’ consideration.
“Commonwealth, state and territory education ministers have agreed they’re committed to closing the educational gap that has been growing at an alarming rate,” The Smith Family CEO Doug Taylor said.
“We welcome this and urge them to move quickly to finalise the next National School Reform Agreement so we can reverse this trend.”
The expert report highlights the benefit of targeted educational support for students who have slipped behind at school.
“The Smith Family sees everyday how providing students with the right support at the right time can be transformational in their education journeys,” Mr Taylor said.
“We welcome the initiative to provide tailored extra learning support for students facing disadvantage, who often face a complex set of circumstances that can hinder their educational outcomes. Enabling these students to catch up, keep up, and stay engaged at school will allow all young people, no matter their backgrounds, to have the best chance of completing Year 12. We know that students who finish school have better futures.”
Mr Taylor was a member of the Ministerial Reference Group advising on how to make education more equitable.
“The latest OECD PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results showed 15-year-old Australians experiencing disadvantage are, on average, around five years of schooling behind their more advantaged classmates. We know from our work on the ground supporting students that the majority are eager to learn, but just need the right help to reach their potential,” he said.
The Smith Family CEO is also welcoming the commitment by education ministers to fully fund all Australian schools.
“We would urge that this starts as soon as possible, and with the schools who have the greatest need, and that any additional measures are informed by evidence,” Mr Taylor said.
“We know that improved use of data helps schools achieve better educational outcomes. It enables our nation to meet our equity goals and ensure public accountability for the significant investment in education.”
He said the next five-year agreement has the power to bring long-lasting, positive change to hundreds of thousands of children and young people.
“With the right policies and the right implementation, we can build a school system that works for all. One that matches the dedication and commitment of our teachers, educators and families and gives all students the best possible opportunity to make the most of their future lives.”
The new agreement is set to come into effect in January 2025.
“We urge our nation’s education ministers to action their commitments made today, swiftly, so we can provide a better and fairer education system for all young people as soon as possible.
“There is not a moment to lose,” Mr Taylor said.