Education Minister Jason Clare has announced that 2023 will see major reforms to early education, school education, and higher education.
In a press conference on Monday, Clare detailed the government's plans for these three critical areas of education, highlighting how work in each area could help address education inequality.
“Today if you're a child from a poor family, you're less likely to go to preschool, you're more likely to fall behind, you're less likely to finish high school and you're less likely to finish university,” the Minister said. “This is an opportunity to change that.”
For early education, Clare had previously announced the “most comprehensive review in Australia's history.” This review is being led by Professor Deborah Brennan AM from the University of New South Wales, in collaboration with the Productivity Commission.
“That work kicks off next month and will report to the government in the middle of next year,” Clare told the press Monday.
A review of higher education is also in the works, set to be “the biggest and broadest review of higher education since the Bradley Review 15 years ago.”
According to Clare, work for the University Accord will be led by Professor Mary O'Kane AO, with a discussion paper due to be released at the Universities Australia Conference in Canberra this week. An interim report will also be available by June, followed by a final report in December.
As for school education, Clare said reforms will focus on the next National School Reform Agreement, with the aim of addressing issues with the current agreement.
“Funding is important, but so is what it's spent on, what it's invested in, and that's what the work that we will do this year will be focused on,” the Minister said.
The Productivity Commission previously released a report on the current National School Reform Agreement, which recommended redesigning the agreement to focus more attention on lifting students’ academic results and supporting students’ wellbeing.
According to the report, nearly 90,000 students do not meet minimum standards for reading or numeracy in NAPLAN. Furthermore, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students in outer regional and remote Australia, and students of parents with low educational attainment were found to be three times more likely to fall behind than other students.
“Over the next few weeks, education ministers across the country will finalise terms of reference and a team to give us the advice we need on what are the practical reforms to help children who fall behind,” Clare said. “And more broadly, what are the real reforms that we need to embed in the next National School Reform agreements.”