Many of you would have seen the headlines this year – that we’ve locked in the schools funding system David Gonski and his panel envisaged.
That we’ve scrapped the hodgepodge of 27 different and special deals Labor cobbled together that distorted the way funding was distributed.
We’ve delivered on the commitment I made to you in these pages last year that future school funding distribution is done according to need and that it is fair and transparent.
As well as overhauling the funding system, we’re investing an additional $23.5 billion in our schools over the next ten years, that’s about an extra $2300 per student on average.
It means on average, funding for government school students increases by 5.1 per cent each year over the next decade, while funding for nongovernment school students grows by 3.7 per cent.
Over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to visit dozens of schools across the country in every sector.
And what has stuck with me is the positivity of students – their optimism, their energy, the great work that you, their teachers, are doing, supported by dedicated families and communities.
Our funding plan means that schools will be able to continue – and expand – successful programs such as specialist teachers or targeted programs for children falling behind.
And, while funding is important, how we use that funding is vital for driving better educational outcomes for our children.
To ensure we are delivering better educational outcomes for students – we’ve set up the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools, chaired by David Gonski.
Working with Mr Gonski on the panel of the review are seven eminent educators and policy experts who collectively have a wealth of knowledge in the education arena.
Their backgrounds cover the gamut of practical classroom experience, school leadership roles, national leadership in public policy, and experience in overcoming challenges in regional and remote areas or disadvantaged and Indigenous communities.
The panel has been examining the submissions, the evidence, the reports, reading the stories and the observations, and they are considering how we can ensure teachers are equipped with the best, evidence-based, proven methods and practices to help all students achieve at the very upper end of their potential.
By the end of this year the Government is also expecting a report from Emeritus Professor John Halsey of Flinders University who is leading the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education.
The review is looking at fresh ideas and thinking to overcome some of the barriers and challenges that students living in regional areas can face in education.
The findings of these reviews will help us develop a new national schooling agreement between the Commonwealth and states. With 75 per cent of the fastestgrowing industries requiring STEM skills, I am also focused on enabling students to embrace the digital and STEM age.
Our National STEM School Education Strategy sets clear goals and areas for action to improve STEM education in Australia.
There’s a range of different initiatives that you will see being rolled out. These include encouraging more engagement in the early years through programs like Let’s Count and Little Scientists, through to professional development for people teaching digital technologies, prizes and competitions we’re encouraging more engagement with STEM subjects and establishing summer schools so that underrepresented groups, particularly girls, discover the potential of STEM.
While STEM skills are important for our teachers, we haven’t lost sight of the fundamentals.
We are continuing our work to ensure new educators have the best possible skills and the strongest possible basis from which they can grow and develop as skilled, professional teachers.
Alongside AITSL we’ve been putting in place more rigorous entry criteria for those applying for teacher education programs.
We now also require all primary teacher graduates to have a subject specialisation and for initial teacher education students to have literacy and numeracy skills in the top 30 per cent of the adult population – this year the literacy and numeracy test for graduate teachers was sat more than 20,000 times.
We have also strengthened the registration requirements for initial teacher education courses so they deliver knowledge and professional experience that better prepares graduates for life in the classroom.
To assist our established teachers and school leaders, AITSL is also taking the lead in a review into teacher registration with a view to improving national consistency and looking at options to increase the quality of the professional learning opportunities available.
As Minister for Education and Training — I want to ensure you as teachers have the support and that all the pieces are in place to improve student outcomes, and provide our children with the best opportunity to succeed at school.
The Turnbull Government values your efforts, and I look forward to continuing to work with you to make the teaching profession the best it can be – for you and our children.