Interview on Channel 7 Sunrise with Natalie Barr
Topics: Release of Gonski 2.0 report
Natalie Barr: Well, the second Gonski report into our education system has recommended a new online test to regularly assess each student and measure their progress. The test, called Teaching Tools, would also help teachers with individual support they can offer students. The review was commissioned by the Turnbull Government to address a steady decline in Australia’s reading and maths results. Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham joins me now. Good morning to you.
Simon Birmingham: Good morning, Nat.
Natalie Barr: So, run us through the testing first of all. We’ve had NAPLAN. Will NAPLAN go and be replaced by testing?
Simon Birmingham: Look, I think we’re a long way away from NAPLAN going. But certainly what this tool that’s proposed would be is something that teachers can apply in the classroom when it suits them according to their judgement, but using a range of resources where they can pick the test or assessment program that works for their students, then get real time results back to them that tell them how their students progressed compared with previous tests they’ve undertaken that tell them how their students compare with students in similar schools or across the country. That also then gives them tips as to how to individualise and target their teaching in terms of the different skill levels of the different students in that classroom. It really does put the teacher in the driver’s seat and give them much greater resource and capacity to be able to help their students perform better.
Natalie Barr: Right. Well, one of the focuses sounds like it’s on this individual progress. How do you do that when you’ve really got one teacher in most classrooms? How do you cater for each individual student?
Simon Birmingham: That’s right, and that’s where providing something that uses technology to give teachers targeted feedback, to give them the tips to extend their student in this way by applying this program of work, give other students differentiated work, as well as changing the curriculum as is recommended to be clear steps in learning progression so you know where each student is clearly at in terms of their progress of learning. So, there’s significant changes there, but it’s about making sure that it is simple and easy for teachers to apply this sort of targeted teaching so that ultimately we lift the performance of all students, get more high achievers in our system, as well as fewer underachievers.
Natalie Barr: Because one of the criticisms is we’re sliding down international rankings. Year 11 and 12, particularly, there are problems. How are you reviewing those?
Simon Birmingham: So, we called for this review because the evidence is clear that Australia’s been underperforming as a nation in our school system and that’s why we need a blueprint for change, and that’s exactly what this report delivers. Now, it recommends that, first and foremost, you’ve got to get the basics right, literacy and numeracy skills, in the early years established by age eight. But equally, senior school students have to leave work ready. Ready to go out, further training, further study, or into the workforce with the skills to be able to engage and participate successfully with fellow employees.
Natalie Barr: Okay. Simon Birmingham, good luck. Thank you.
Simon Birmingham: Thank you, Nat.