Carrie Bickmore: Well, Senator Simon Birmingham is the Education Minister and he joins us now. Minister, as we’ve just heard, NAPLAN results are plateauing. We’re falling behind by international standards. Our education system just doesn’t seem to be in a good place at the moment. As Education Minister, that can’t be a great feeling?
Simon Birmingham: Look, we shouldn’t talk down our education system. We have great teachers doing wonderful things in good schools but, yeah, it is concerning that the results in terms of the latest NAPLAN tests show that despite record levels of funding and investment, our performance is plateauing and we’ve got to do better.
Waleed Aly: Can I just get some markers from you, Minister, because I’m interested in the money question. You are investing you say a record amount but it’s considerably less than what the Opposition is proposing. So, are you saying to us that money doesn’t actually matter?
Simon Birmingham: Of course money matters and we are investing a record level. Funding has grown by 23 per cent from the Federal Government over the last three years. It will …
Waleed Aly: [Talks over] Okay, then, Minister, you’re investing considerably less than Labor proposed after having gone through an extensive review. So, I’m just interested to what extent is spending on education part of your response?
Simon Birmingham: Spending on education for schools will grow by the Turnbull Government from $16 billion this year to more than $20 billion by 2020 but what these results show is that after years of increased spending we’re not actually getting improved outcomes so we’ve got to say it’s not just about the money which is where supporting our best teachers to take on leadership roles, to stay in schools, ensuring we have early intervention for children who need it …
Waleed Aly: [Interrupts] What do you mean? In concrete terms, what are you doing to support those teachers?
Simon Birmingham: So, we’ve developed with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership the professional standards for teachers and what we want to see is those teachers who are highly capable and lead teachers are rewarded based on their capabilities and the effort they put into their professional development.
Peter Helliar: Education Minister, you make a … you’re talking a good game, there’s no doubt about that, but I want to see how you might go with the real thing. I want to throw a couple of NAPLAN questions at you. You ready?
Simon Birmingham: We’ll do our best, Pete.
Peter Helliar: Do your best, Birmo. Alright, Steve joined two blocks together to make this object. He used a cone and a what?
Simon Birmingham: Oh, you’ve taken it off the screen, too. Just [indistinct].
Carrie Bickmore: Oh, come on Minister. You don’t need any longer than that.
Jen Byrne: Time’s up. Your time’s up.
Simon Birmingham: This is the difficulty of not … You used a cone and a … oh, a cylinder.
Peter Helliar: A cylinder is correct.
Jen Byrne: You had me worried for a moment there.
Peter Helliar:Your advisers were …
Simon Birmingham: Thank you, thank you. That took a little longer than it should’ve.
Peter Helliar:Your advisers are having a bit of a panic attack at the moment. This lolly – I believe it’s a liquorice allsort – is made with equal layers. The layers are white or black. What fraction of the lolly is made of black layers?
Simon Birmingham: Well, we have one, two, three, four, five layers. There are two black layers, so I’d go with two fifths.
Carrie Bickmore: Oh, he’s back.
Peter Helliar: Your reputation has been restored.
Carrie Bickmore: Alright minister, we appreciate your time tonight.
Simon Birmingham:Thank you so much, guys. Pleasure.