Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham has called on schools, families and education experts to focus on evidence-based measures to lift student achievement in the face of flat results from the 2016 NAPLAN tests.

“We need to focus on evidence based measures that will get results for our students because today’s results once again show that, despite significant funding growth, we are not getting sufficient improvements in student outcomes,” Minister Birmingham said.

“That’s why the Turnbull Government has clear, evidence-based policies focused on quality educational outcomes for our children.

“This NAPLAN data clearly shows that while strong levels of investment in schools are important, it’s more important to ensure that funding is being used on initiatives proven to boost student results.”

The 2016 preliminary NAPLAN results point to an increase in reading scores across the country of 0.40 per cent since 2013, a decrease in writing scores of -0.20 per cent and an increase in numeracy of 1.26 per cent across all year levels. Over the same period there has been a 23.7 per cent increase in federal school funding.

“We have excellent schools and teachers in Australia that successfully set the vast majority of our students up for life but we need to move the conversation on from just how much is being spent in schools to focus on how record funding can best be used for the benefit of students,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Of course investment in our schools is important, which is why we will continue to grow funding from a record $16 billion this year to $20.1 billion in 2020, all to be allocated based on need,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Our funding growth is sustainable but will be tied to a range of evidence-based initiatives to support students by focusing on outcomes in literacy, numeracy and STEM subjects, helping lift teacher quality and better preparing our children for life after school.

“Those initiatives will build on our work over the last three years including our reforms to teacher education through the Ministerial Advisory Group, our review of the National Curriculum to declutter it and refocus on the basics of literacy and numeracy and funding through the National Innovation and Science Agenda for STEM school programs.”

In May the Coalition outlined its Student Achievement Plan and a range of reforms to boost student outcomes, including:

  • Minimum proportions of trainee teachers specialising in literacy and numeracy
  • Use of explicit literacy and numeracy instruction in all schools
  • Assessment of Year 1 students’ reading, phonics and numeracy skills to ensure the earliest possible interventions occur for students who need additional help
  • Annual reports to parents that identify literacy and numeracy attainment against national standards that will help monitor progress and identify problems
  • Minimum standards of literacy and numeracy skills for Year 12 school leavers
  • Students needing to complete an English or humanities subject and a maths or science subject prior to attaining an ATAR
  • Recruitment targets for teachers qualified in science, technology, engineering or mathematics subjects.
  • Ensuring all principals are certified before their appointment
  • Linking teacher salary progression to demonstrated competency and achievement against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, rather than just length of service
  • Requiring graduate teachers to achieve registration at the Proficient Level of the Professional Standards within three years.
  • Incentivising high-performing teachers to work in disadvantaged schools.
  • Expanding the Early Learning Languages Australia programme into the early years of schooling.
  • Pursuing school access and immigration reforms to fast track availability of teachers in key foreign languages.
  • Improving career advice by working with industry and schools to develop a new National Career Education Strategy

“Every dollar we spend on education must be spent as effectively as possible and the Turnbull Government will ensure this occurs in our schools so that students receive the quality outcomes they need to secure jobs in our new economy,” Minister Birmingham said.

“It’s time for Australian leaders, educators and families to focus on what works in our schools and I look forward to collaborating with all sections of the community to implement our reforms which are designed to support all students to achieve their absolute best.”