Private schools welcome Gonski 2.0 reforms
CATHOLIC and independent private schools have welcomed the 'Gonski 2.0' recommendations for a major overhaul of Australia's education system as the nation continues to slip in world rankings.
State Education ministers will meet with federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham on Friday to discuss implementing the 23 recommendations in schools across the nation.
Report author David Gonski will also attend the meeting to outline his strategy, which includes more "individualised lessons" where teachers target the ability of each child, more regular real-time testing, more and better professional development for teachers, and more autonomy for schools.
It also sets out the goal to ensure each child has a year's growth in their learning for every year at school.
An urgent review of the curriculum for Year 11s and 12s has also been recommended.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has already endorsed the report's findings, saying: "We have got to do better for our kids".
Mr Turnbull declared Australia needed a 21st century education system instead of a 20th century approach.
"There's too much coasting and cruising," he told reporters in Sydney.
"Every child should advance by a year whether they're an A grade student, if they're getting As, they should be moving up to A+, if they're a B, they should be moving up to As and so forth - everyone should be advancing, that's the critical thing.
"And this approach, I think, is one that is going to give teachers the tools to ... enable them to do that better."
The National Catholic Education Commission and the Independent Schools Council of Australia both welcomed the Gonski 2.0 review today.
ISCA executive director Colette Colman said the report outlined a "multifaceted, integrated" approach to improving Australia's schools rather than a single "magic bullet".
Ms Colman particularly welcomed the recommendation for an independent body to undertake and pool evidence-based education research that teachers could turn to.
She also said many of the initiatives and innovations in the report were already underway in independent schools, such as principal professional autonomy, professional learning and mentoring.
NCEC's acting executive director Ray Collins said Catholic schools "strongly" backed the recommendations to reduce the administrative and reporting burden on teachers and principals to allow more time for professional learning.
"The focus on personalised learning to achieve one year's learning gain for each student regardless of their starting point is a commendable goal, which will make it absolutely necessary to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and distractions to learning and teaching, and will have critical implications for the resourcing and funding of schools and systems," Mr Collins said.
He also called for more discussion around developing a national curriculum for Year 11s and 12s, while welcoming the recommendations for a strong foundation for the early years of schooling and a stronger focus on capabilities such as critical thinking, creativity and complex problem solving.
But the NCEC also warned the recommendations would be challenging to implement because they relied on the co-operation of all sectors and governments.
The Australian Education Union has called for more resources for schools to implement the changes.
"We know that when schools have the resources they need to give students the individual attention they need, we see improved educational outcomes," AEU president Correna Haythorpe said.
"If the Turnbull government thinks that this report and its recommendations will be a distraction from the critical issue of funding, then they are wrong."
Mr Gonski defended his call for more individualised lessons given teachers were already stretched implementing the current curriculum.
Speaking alongside the Prime Minister in Sydney to launch his report today, Mr Gonski said teachers should be given the tools to monitor and plan for each child. New technology and more regular testing would also facilitate his plan for individual "learning progression" for each child.
"A lot of teachers are already doing that. Let me make that quite clear.
"But what we found, talking to teachers and listening to them is, if they could be given what we called a tool, which the new technologies allow, they could be as one teacher put it 'in the driver's seat'. So instead, as one person put it, of bowling down the middle, only looking after the middle of the class because the bright kids will look after themselves, and those who aren't up to it - well, that's too difficult - they could actually do the whole thing.
"Because by using the tool, they can monitor everyone.
"And if one has learning progression, one can work quietly and satisfactorily with each student to try to progress them."
Labor education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said there was nothing particularly objectionable or new in the panel's recommendations.
"The most depressing thing about the report is that so many of these things were underway until Christopher Pyne became education minister and dumped the reforms, saying that they were just red tape," Ms Plibersek told reporters.