The Federal Government should be congratulated for getting its landmark school funding changes through the Parliament and now all sides of the debate need to focus on improving performance standards among our students, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said today.
James Pearson, CEO of the Australian Chamber, said: “After years of political wrangling it was pleasing to see a needs-based school funding model pass the Parliament overnight. We applaud the Government, particularly Education Minister Simon Birmingham, for holding the line on the need for an equitable funding arrangement in the face of a cynical campaign by the Australian Education Union.
“The next major challenge in education is to improve the performance standards among students. Just last week an alarming report found that Australia ranked 39 out of 41 high- and middle-income countries in achieving quality education, with Australia lagging the world in basic measures of teaching and learning.
“Every parent should be deeply concerned that nearly a third of 15-year-olds in Australia fail to meet international baseline standards for reading, maths and science, according to the UNICEF report.
“A big part of the solution is to introduce national minimum standards for literacy and numeracy for all school leavers. We need to make sure that our kids leave school with the skills they need to get a job or go onto further study.
“We sell our kids short when we do not give them the reading, writing and maths skills they need to tap into the opportunities of the future. The jobs of tomorrow will require people to have a strong foundation in the basics as well as the ability to thinking critically, work well in a team and engage with new technologies. Failing to take action on standards across Australia will deny students the start they need.
“We are pleased to see national standards as part of the Federal Government’s school package in discussions with state and territory governments. We applaud states that have already moved to introduce minimum standards and urge the others to do the same.
“Australia must do better. We must seize the moment.”