A new international report has again highlighted the importance of reforms to lift the performance of Australian schools in maths and science.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) shows Australia has fallen by as much as 10 places as measured against students in other countries in Year 4 and 8 mathematics and science since 2011 despite an 11.9 per cent growth in real federal funding for schools.

Minister Birmingham said the results show that Australia has slipped 10 places in international rankings for Year 4 mathematics since 2011 (18th to 28th), five places for Year 8 mathematics (12th to 17th), five places for Year 8 science (12th to 17th) and there’s been no movement in Year 4 science (steady at 25th).

Since 2003, Australia has slipped by up to 14 places compared to other countries while real federal funding has jumped by 49.6 per cent. 

Minister Birmingham said the latest mathematics and science results would be a key part of his discussions with states and territories in December about the Turnbull Government’s school quality reforms that focus on how best to target Australia’s record levels of investment in schools and improve student outcomes.

“Australia has many hard-working teachers and all policymakers need to hone in on what initiatives our funding should be supporting so we can better support our educators to help our students and lift skills in maths and science that are vital to the country’s future successes,” Minister Birmingham said. 

“The Turnbull Government is focused on evidence-based measures that will get results for our students because these new statistics, our NAPLAN results and other international rankings all show that, despite significant funding growth in Australia, we are not getting sufficient improvements in student outcomes. 

“The Turnbull Government’s Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes reforms outlined in May includes more than a dozen initiatives backed by experts that evidence shows will help Australian young people to get more out of their schooling.

“Many of the Turnbull Government’s quality reforms are designed to directly tackle Australia’s falling mathematics and science skills, including a ‘back to basics’ focus on more teachers specialising in literacy and numeracy and qualified to teach science, technology, engineering or maths subjects, ensuring students complete a maths or science subject before they graduate and setting minimum literacy and numeracy standards for Year 12s.

“When I sit down with my state and territory counterparts in December these results highlight that we all need to focus on what evidence-backed initiatives will lift student outcomes and how our record and growing funding is best used to get much better results.”

Minister Birmingham said the Commonwealth’s already-record levels of investment in schools would grow from $16 billion in 2016 to $20.1 billion in 2020 and that it needed to be used to implement reforms in our schools that are proven to lift student performance.

For further information on the Turnbull Government’s Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes reforms, visit https://www.education.gov.au/quality-schools-quality-outcomes