PM Address to National Press Club

The Prime Minister today addressed the National Press Club in Canberra.   While his speech touched on a number of areas, the main focus of the speech provided further detail on the Government’s ‘education revolution’.

In particular, the Government’s approach on schools funding will be founded on three pillars of reform including:

  • Improving the quality of teaching
  • Increasing transparency for school reporting
  • Lifting achievement in disadvantaged areas.

Improving the quality of teaching

The Prime Minister indicated that the quality of teaching students receive in school has measurable impacts on their cognitive, affective and behavioural development.  The Prime Minister stressed the need to recruit top graduates into teacher training, and indicated that under the new reforms the Government will work with the States and Territories to implement programs similar to those in the US and UK where talented graduates are given accelerated pathways into teaching, placed into the most challenging school environments and paid at a higher rate.

Increasing transparency for school reporting

The Prime Minister highlighted that one of the main priorities for the Federal Government is increasing transparency for school reporting by developing performance indicators for schools.  These performance measures will be designed to increase the accountability of schools and enable the Government, communities and parents to better analyse what schools and students are achieving.  He announced that from 1 January 2009, individual school performance reporting will be a condition of funding in the new national education agreement.

Lifting achievement in disadvantaged areas

The Prime Minister announced that the Government will pursue a National Policy Partnership with the States and Territories to tackle underachievement in schools.  He acknowledged that Federal and State Governments will need to commit to additional investments of around $500,000 per year for an average sized school.

The National Policy Partnership will contain measures to help:

  • attract high performing principals and teachers to underperforming schools;
  • provide funding for intensive learning activities and additional coaching for those students who are falling behind;
  • create robust networks of parents, other schools, local communities and businesses to help students in transitioning successfully to work or further education; and
  • to provide incentives for individual schools to extend their reach through longer opening hours, after-school study support, sports and other activities to help keep students engaged in their studies.