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Education Revolution: Rudd And Gillard Launch Quality Education Plan

The Rudd government has released a “Quality Education” plan as the next chapter in its “Education Revolution”.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that a “world class education system” is needed “to help build a stronger economy for Australia’s future”.

The plan is in three parts: improving the quality of teaching, measuring school performance and helping disadvantaged school communities.

Text of media release from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

The Rudd Government today launched the next chapter in its Education Revolution to help build a stronger economy for Australia’s future.

Australia needs a world class education system to face the challenges presented by a rapidly changing world.

The Rudd Government’s Quality Education plan represents the biggest school reform agenda in recent history.

Boosting the quality of education in Australia’s 9581 schools builds on Labor’s $19.3 billion commitment to education in the last budget.

By working together with the States and Territories, the Government aims to improve the quality of education delivered in Australian schools in three key areas:

Improving the Quality of Teaching

  • Recruiting the highest performing graduates into teaching.
  • Recognising and rewarding top teachers.

Measuring School Performance

  • Collecting and making available to parents in a clear and simple format information about the performance of their child, and their child’s school.
  • Public reporting by schools of their performance on key measures including national test results.

Helping Disadvantaged School Communities

  • Using national data to target funding to underachieving schools.
  • Funding targeted strategies to lift performance by attracting higher performing teachers, funding intensive learning activities, engaging parents, and developing extended learning hours and services.

The Rudd Government will seek agreement on these reforms through the Council of Australian Governments at its meetings in October and December.

Reporting on performance will be a requirement of any new school funding agreement.

The Government is confident these measures will be implemented in Australian schools from the beginning of next year.

Today’s new chapter in the Education Revolution builds on the Rudd Government’s existing commitments to improving education in Australia. These include:

  • a national curriculum in English, maths, the sciences and history;
  • guaranteed funding to both Government and non-Government schools;
  • a $1.2 billion Digital Education Revolution that over time will provide access to a computer for every student in years 9 -12, and
  • a $2.5 billion Trade Training Centre program across Australia to build trade training centres in Australian secondary schools.

Improve the Quality of Teaching

Research shows that nothing at school influences student outcomes more than excellent teaching.

The Government will establish a National Partnership on Quality Teaching to inspire and to reward principals and accomplished expert teachers.

The package will include measures to recruit the nation’s most talented graduates into teaching. They will be given an accelerated pathway into teaching, placed into the most challenging school environments, and paid at a higher rate.

Under this new reform partnership school authorities will be encouraged to reward our highest performing classroom teachers and provide incentives for them to teach in our most challenging schools.

We will encourage a wider range of skills and experience in schools, using specialist teaching expertise to the full and doing a better job in meeting every student’s needs.

School principals will be given the autonomy to make more staffing and salary decisions to tackle local problems like poor literacy and numeracy.

Our reforms will encourage teachers to spend their time doing what they do best – teaching, and not on paperwork better handled by support staff.

Measuring school performance

In return for increased investment in the quality of schools, the Rudd Government will demand greater transparency and greater accountability.

It will insist on a system of individual school performance reporting as part of the new national education agreement to come into effect from 1 January 2009.

These reports will allow parents to compare schools with a similar mix of students and the extent to which they are adding value.

These public reports will reveal a limited number of instances where it is clear that individual schools are simply not achieving the essentials.

The Government is prepared to invest money and effort to lift their performance.

However, where despite best efforts, these schools are not lifting their performance, the Commonwealth expects education authorities to take serious action – such as replacing the school principal, replacing senior staff, reorganising the school or even merging it with other more effective schools.

Tough action is necessary to achieve real change. And it’s tough action that our reform payments will reward.

Investing in disadvantaged school communities

The Rudd Government will pursue a National Partnership with the States and Territories to address underachieving schools.

These measures will be designed to suit the needs of local schools and could include measures to help:

  • attract high performing principals and teachers to underperforming schools;
  • provide funding for intensive learning activities and additional coaching for those students who are falling behind;
  • create robust networks of parents, other schools, local communities and businesses to help students in transitioning successfully to work or further education, and
  • provide incentives for individual schools to extend their reach through longer opening hours, after-school study support, sports and other activities to help keep students engaged in their studies.

To make a real difference, we anticipate that governments will need to commit to investments of around $500,000 per year for an average sized school.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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