Dan Tehan: our Plan for Australian Education

In this article for The Parents' Website, Education Minister Dan Tehan sets out the education reform priorities of the re-elected Morrison Government.

By Dan Tehan

The Morrison Government believes that every Australian child, no matter where they live, should have access to a world-class education.

Our Government is providing record funding to ensure all Australian students have their opportunity to reach their potential. We are also implementing important reforms that ensure our record funding delivers the best outcomes.

Our Government’s Quality Schools package will see more than $310 billion provided to all schools – that’s an extra $37 billion, an increase of 62 per cent per student.

We have also secured the future for parents whose children are educated in Independent and Catholic schools through our $1.2 billion Choice and Affordability Fund.

Every state and territory government has signed up to the National School Reform Agreement that commits the Federal Government and the states and territories to work together to implement the reforms recommended by David Gonski that will improve our nation’s education system.

In response, the Federal Government will be collecting better data to improve the national evidence base. We will create a unique student identifier so that students can be better supported no matter where they live. This will enable us to track the performance of all students, including rural and regional students, to provide a clear indication of where students may be lagging, and what can be done to address that.

We will also establish a new national evidence institute to drive improvements in teaching practice, school systems and policies. The institute’s work will identify ‘good practice’ in our classrooms and translate that into practical tools to ensure it becomes ‘common practice’ throughout Australia’s teaching profession. This will benefit all students, including rural and regional students.

Learning how to read and write is fundamental to a quality education, and research over many years has shown phonics is the best way to teach basic literacy skills.

One of our key priorities for this term of government is the rollout of a nationwide phonics health check for Year 1 students. We will also ensure that teaching students learn how to teach phonics for use in the classroom to improve the literacy of their students.

As the Year 1 phonics check in South Australia has shown, identifying at an early stage students who are not able to recognise words and ensuring they get the extra support they need is invaluable in guaranteeing no child falls behind.

But our work does not stop there.

Every parent will tell you the best asset in their school is the teachers. We want to attract more high-quality teachers into the classrooms by expanding the successful Teach for Australia program to target the next generation of school leaders. The Morrison Government will invest an additional $15 million to train more high-achieving teachers to work in rural, remote or disadvantaged schools through the program.

It is vital that teachers receive the support they need to succeed. That is why the Morrison Government is backing our teachers so they can focus on teaching. We are tasking the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership to develop a National Strategy to support schools to tackle the abuse of teachers in the classroom.

We will work hard to make sure that principals and teachers are free from excessive red tape, giving them more time to focus on teaching their students.

As part of the Australian Curriculum review due to occur in 2020, the Morrison Government will also place on the COAG Education Council agenda a review of the compliance and regulation that teachers face.

Our Government has established a $30 million Local School Community Fund to support local government, Catholic and Independent schools with specific projects that will benefit their students and local school communities. We will provide $200,000 to each federal electorate to support priority projects in local schools, such as IT upgrades for a specific cohort of students, excursions for students from remote areas, sporting facilities, or equipment for students with explicit needs.

Our Government understands how important it is that all children and young people in Australia learn to become digitally literate in a safe and supportive environment, and develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage digital systems and combat risks.

But we also know that, increasingly, student wellbeing inside and outside the classroom is becoming an issue for parents and teachers, particularly as we see the rise of cyberbullying and the inappropriate use of new technology.

The Morrison Government wants every child to feel safe and happy at school. We also want to ensure that our children are concentrating in class so they can get the best possible education. We will work with the states and territories on best practice policies on mobile phone use in classrooms.

Our Government wants to bring out experts from France and Ontario, Canada – where they have put in place bans on mobile phones in schools – to provide advice and guidance to state and territory governments as to how schools could go about limiting the use of mobile phones in the classroom.

Through these initiatives, the Morrison Government is helping to ensure every child can achieve their full potential every year they are at school.

We will continue to work hard to make sure that no child is held back by disadvantage.

From our record funding to all schools to our support for teachers, the Coalition Government has a plan to ensure that every Australian child, no matter there they go to school, gets the world-class education they deserve.

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