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Reversing declining school standards must be a critical priority

Liberal Party of Australia

Reversing declining school standards must be a critical priority

Yesterday in
the Senate, I spoke about the critical importance of reversing declining school

Students and teachers cannot excel in the classroom when they’re not supported
by proven teaching methods.

Albanese Government is not only cutting funding to government schools, but
failing to ensure that evidence-based teaching and learning is mandated in
every Australian classroom.

again called on Education Minister, Jason Clare, to urgently fix the growing
teacher shortage crisis which is crippling so many schools particularly in
regional Australia.

transcript of my speech is below.

I rise to speak today on this Matter of Public
Importance on the failure of Labor to listen to students, parents, unions and
teachers on school funding.

I firstly want to thank Australian teachers for
the incredible work they do.

I regret that this motion has not referenced
the importance of evidence-based teaching and learning, critical to turning
around our declining school standards, which is now a national embarrassment.

This is the most critical issue facing
Australian parents, carers, teachers and students who are being denied the
opportunity to reach their best potential. Why do one in five students in year
7 have the reading ability of a grade 4 student? Why did one in three students
fail the most recent their plan? These are shocking statistics. Proven teaching
methods such as explicit instruction must be mandated in every Australian

Why is this critical issue receiving such scant
attention from both Labor and the Greens? The biggest disadvantage is not
learning to read and write. Over the past two decades, despite a 60% increase
in funding, our standards have declined. Twenty years ago, Australia ranked
fourth internationally in reading, eighth in science and eleventh in maths. Now
we have fallen to sixteenth in reading, seventeenth in science and twenty-ninth
in maths.

Australia has lost the equivalent of one year’s
worth of learning over the past two decades. We were once on par with
top-performing nations such as Singapore. Now the average 15-year-old
Singaporean is three years ahead of their Australian counterparts.

In its submission to Labor’s review on the
National School Reform Agreement, the Australian Education Research
Organisation has reiterated the importance of reforms to ensure that proven
evidence-based teaching methods are adopted in every Australian classroom,
along with regular student assessment, targeted interventions and continuous
database tracking of student progress.

I put on the record, under the Coalition,
funding doubled from $13 billion to $25.3 billion. But this must not be a
funding war, but a war to improve student outcomes to ensure the next
generation of Australians can reach for the stars.

Under the Gonski needs-based funding model, the
Commonwealth is meeting its current obligations, providing 20 per cent and more
of the schooling resource standard to government schools. But
with the exception of the ACT, the states and territories which run
schools are well below 80 per cent. Victoria is only 70 per cent, Queensland 69
per cent and the Northern Territory a dismal 59 per cent. So under Gonski,
students in government schools are being short-changed by the states and the
Northern Territory. All but one of these are Labor governments.

The Albanese Government was elected on a
promise to deliver 100 per cent SRS funding, a pathway to full and fair
funding. But Labor’s pathway has become some fanciful yellow brick road to
nowhere. All we have seen is review after review from Education Minister, Jason
Clare, who has delayed the National School Reform Agreement
by one year, in a decision that even the Australian Education Union has called
a betrayal of underfunded public schools and disadvantaged students.

In fact, the Budget papers show the
Albanese Government is cutting $1.2 billion in funding to government schools
over the next four years. What hypocrisy from Labor. Where is the
investment in better student outcomes or even building boarding schools for
Indigenous students in East Arnhem Land and the Pilbara, which have been
cruelly axed by this government? So much for listening to Indigenous voices.

The big funding challenge facing Australian
schools is to ensure that we are investing in the things that will help
students and teachers to excel. Evidence-based teaching and learning. Fixing
the overcrowded curriculum and dramatic improvements in initial teacher

And I say to this minister, what about the
growing teacher shortage crisis? We have a crisis in this country. So many
teachers are under pressure with the administrative burden, and yet this
minister has done absolutely nothing to fix the teacher shortage crisis,
particularly in regional Australia. Our teachers are drowning in work.
Principals cannot find teachers to teach their students. It is an absolute
disgrace and in this motion today I am calling for urgent action from the
government to fix the teacher shortage crisis in Australian schools,
particularly across regional Australia. Thank you.

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