Frecklington slams Qld ATAR English call

Ed Jackson

Queensland's opposition has blasted a decision to make it non-compulsory for a student's English marks to be included in their university entrance rank.

Queensland is falling in line with NSW and Victoria by introducing the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) in its secondary schools.

But unlike the other states, state Education Minister Grace Grace has confirmed English won't be a mandatory part of the rank - meaning if the student performs better in five other subjects, they will be used to calculate their final mark.

Ms Grace says students will need to obtain a "sound achievement" in their English subject to obtain an ATAR.

Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington says the decision is "ludicrous" and needs to be immediately reversed.

"There is no more important subject than English," Ms Frecklington told reporters on Friday.

"There is nothing more important than being able to read and write.

"We have to give our kids the best start in life. Why should we be behind states like NSW and Victoria? If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for us."

Education academic Kevin Donnelly said the decision to not make English a compulsory part of the ATAR in Queensland did not make sense.

"Whatever students do after Year 12 they are going to have to be proficient in English," Mr Donnelly told The Courier-Mail.

"If it is formulated differently in Queensland by not including the score for English, it throws it out-of-kilter with the rest of Australia."

Labor MP Kate Jones, who was education minister when the ATAR adoption was announced in 2015, said the new qualification actually lifted the standard in Queensland.

Students can obtain the current OP (overall position) ranking without studying English in Years 11 or 12, Ms Jones said.

"What this reform will do is make it compulsory for every Year 11 and 12 student who wants an ATAR to complete English and pass English," Ms Jones said.

"Independent schools lobbied very hard for the current position because they did not want to penalise international students or students that live in Queensland that come from a non-English speaking background that are exceptional in science and exceptional in maths.

"Quite frankly I think that we have got the balance right."