Why Australia needs an education overhaul

Australia’s school curriculum should be overhauled over five years to shift the focus to individual student achievements, the much anticipated Gonski 2.0 report recommends.

Students should not just be finishing the year meeting age- or year-based expectations but with a full year’s worth of extra knowledge, the report by businessman David Gonski says.

Federal, state and territory education ministers will meet on Friday for a briefing from Mr Gonski about 23 recommendations in his second education system review, released publicly on Monday.

The federal government has flagged support for all the recommendations.

The Gonski report said students should not just be finishing the year meeting age- or year-based expectations but with a full year’s worth of extra knowledge. Source: Sunrise

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham is hopeful a new reform agreement can be negotiated with his state counterparts this year, allowing changes to be implemented from 2019.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government had implemented needs-based funding recommended by Mr Gonski in 2011 but that was not enough.

“We can and must do more. We now have the blueprint to do it,” he said.

“We are drawing a line in the sand to say with our record and growing funding secured, we now must focus on the reforms that improve education outcomes for all Australian students.”

The Gonski 2.0 report has recommended a radical overhaul to Australia’s school curriculum. Source: Sunrise

Mr Gonski says his latest recommendations are designed to be implemented together to turn around the decline in academic performance Australia has experienced since 2000.

“This is a long-term project however if we stay on course, with strong, sustained bipartisan support we will look back in a decade to a transformed school education system,” he said in the report.

Among the changes, Mr Gonski wants to see the national curriculum progressively revised over five years to create a roadmap setting out progressive learning steps in each subject.

Teachers should also be prioritising literacy and numeracy to ensure students have the core basics before they turn eight, and there needs to be a smooth transition between early childhood learning and school.

An overarching recommendation would ensure each student achieves a year’s worth of learning for each year at school.

“To achieve this shift to growth, the review panel believes it is essential to move from a year-based curriculum to a curriculum expressed as learning progressions independent of year or age,” the report says.

It suggests new reporting arrangements focus on learning attainment and gain, noting schools with high achievers who do not make good progress are not as successful as they could be.

Mr Gonski also wants an independent national inquiry into objectives, curriculum and assessment provisions for Year 11 and 12 students, with findings within 12 months.

It is to ensure students are working toward the skills needed for the future.

There is also a series of recommendations to support teachers – including the development of an online tool to allow them to track individual student progress and suggest individualised support for students.

Teachers should also receive professional development training from schools and education authorities.

Mr Gonski also wants to see the creation of a research and evidence institute to continue driving innovation and improvement.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham is hopeful for changes to be put in place from 2019. Source: Sunrise