ALI CLARK: We are talking about this report that has been handed down by the Australian Council of Educational Research. Professor Geoff Masters is my guest, he has analysed this report and has found five challenges in the Australian school education system. Simon Birmingham has actually picked up the phone and called in, the Federal Education Minister, good morning, Minister.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Good morning, good to be with you and can I really welcome this report from Professor Masters. It is a valuable contribution and it really does highlight some of the things that Malcolm Turnbull and I released in our schools policy just a couple of weeks ago about the need to better support our most capable teachers, better recognise them and put in place the structures to encourage them to stay in the profession and mentor new teachers to make sure that we asses our Year One students at the earliest opportunity around their reading capability so that we can put in place interventions to support them because that really is the foundation stone and building block of learning success…

ALI CLARK: With all due respect Minister, we’ve heard for so long from politicians that education is key, education is important. We saw the Gonski reforms, we’ve seen all these different political structures and political ways to try to answer this; are we not getting traction and does there have to be a complete rethink about where this is placed in the Australian psyche?

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well I think there needs to be a rethink about the idea that throwing money at things simply makes a difference. That seems to be the debate that sadly, we are stuck in, that the Labor party prosecute at present. What we need to do is actually have a look at why what we’ve been doing isn’t working and we’ve taken a hard look at that, which is where some of the reforms that we are proposing come from.

So I am very eager, if we are re-elected, to work with the states and to use our Federal funding for schools to leverage real reform in those schools, to get that focus on basic reading skills, on better support for our best teachers and recognition of those teachers in terms of their salary revenue so that they are then encouraged to stay in the profession, on ensuring that we actually have minimum standards for literacy and numeracy before people can qualify for a year 12 certificate.

It is really important for employers, TAFEs and universities that if somebody is leaving school they actually have a minimum level of literacy and numeracy which, as this report demonstrates, far too many do not.

ALI CLARK: Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham, thank you very much