Education and Learning
SA-BEST will put student centred learning as the focus for all South Australians now and in the future. Every student deserves an opportunity to excel through quality learning experiences.
In November 2017, a Grattan Institute report concluded that Australia’s school education system is not fit for purpose, and we need to rethink the way students learn.
SA-BEST will change how students learn by moving emphasis from education to learning, from system centric to learner focussed. To highlight this, we propose the Ministry and Department of Education will become the Ministry and Department of Learning.
In an ever connected, digital world, where information and answers are a scroll or click away, the way we learn has changed.
The way our schools teach and support our students – and our communities - has also changed.
The traditional African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” now applies equally to our schools as it does to our communities.
Teachers are no longer just educators. They’re adjudicators, psychologists, enforcers, philosophers, even nutritionists, sports coaches and career counsellors.
The ever-growing gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in Australia means that many children are simply slipping through the cracks.
Teachers are hard-working dedicated professionals who have had far too little support when dealing with the complex problems children often bring with them to school.
We must make sure our schools, and our teachers, have the resources necessary to equip our students in the 21st century and the flexibility to apply these resources to meet their local needs.
We need to do better.
A FACT CHECK ON CLAIMS MADE BY LABOR ON EDUCATION FUNDING
In 2017 Nick Xenophon’s federal team negotiated an extra $4.9 billion in education funding – including an additional $424 million for South Australia. This was on top of the federal government’s $18.6 billion in extra funding.
We will fight to ensure Commonwealth and State education funding and resources are allocated fairly and equitably; and remove the centralized bureaucracy and ‘one-size-fits-all’ policies that are failing our schools and our students, particularly those in country communities and those with high levels of disadvantage.
The majority of funding for the public school sector comes from the State Government. Under Gonski 2.0, if any public school is not at its target Schooling Resource Standard by 2027, that is the fault of its State Government.
Because of the NXT, all schools in Australia will receive at least 95% of their target SRS by 2023.
We will meet that target with a view to reaching 100%.
In addition, we will better support our teachers with skill development programs rather than simply more funding.
We will rigorously evaluate the impact of new reforms and focus on raising the quality of education expenditure.
Further research has highlighted that, “…overall student performance is declining, and an unacceptably high number of our students are not ready for life after school….”. Further research has found that school productivity in Australia has fallen over the past four decades and that resources alone are not the answer to improving school performance.
Underpinned by a significant body of national and international research, SA-BEST intends to work with sector experts and practitioners to support learning excellence by:
- Reduce the centralised bureaucracy and administration and more effectively allocate resources to where they are most needed and will make the most difference, including needs-based loadings. (For example, fully funded needs-based loadings for students whose education needs require greater levels of sustained investment, including many students with disabilities, Aboriginal students, students from low-SES backgrounds, regional, rural and remote students, and students requiring English language support.)
- Review incentives, support mechanisms and infrastructure to overcome the challenges associated with geographic location and communities with concentrations of disadvantage (this includes attracting and retaining teachers and principals, lack of access to relief teachers and training for country schools, decent internet etc)
- Review findings and recommendations from the Debelle Royal Commission and determine why some recommendations were not enacted. Particular attention will be paid to the role of school governing councils and whether they have meaningful authority or act merely as an advisory board.
- Address the lack of job security for teachers and support staff, particularly the high levels of short term contracts and casual employment; and the increase in non-core administrative tasks.
- Address the increasing incidence of violence in our public education workplaces by implementing effective early intervention and training measures, as well as assessing and improving safety in schools.
- Improve workforce planning to ensure adequate supply of appropriately qualified and trained teachers, leaders, and support staff. Explore innovative solutions to ensure graduate teachers are provided with meaningful teaching opportunities here in South Australia. For example, a scheme to give schools a rebate for offering SA graduates work opportunities, to prevent those young graduate teachers from leaving the state.
- Targeted, incisive professional development opportunities in support of improving NAPLAN scores in primary schools. For instances, teachers may need additional professional development in two distinct areas. Firstly, in how to extrapolate and interpret data from NAPLAN and other sources. Secondly there’s a consistent dip in achievement from year 3 to year 5 across all metrics which has to be addressed with further PD in how to teach reading and how to teach numeracy
- Trial the Phonics check in line with Dyslexia SA’s recommendations.
- Structured peer led feedback and review as a core element of a raft of professional development programs to raise standards.
- ‘Village SA’ – pilot an online one stop shop for parents to visit which provides details on how to support excellent learning for their children and provides a platform for collaboration between the wider community including government departments, NGOs, community groups, business groups and individuals.
- Work with stakeholders to offer innovative, engaging ‘STEAMED’ curricula (an expansion of ‘STEM’ that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics, Entrepreneurship and Design) to address the 40% of teenagers The Grattan Institute believe are disengaged from learning.
- Digital Literacy programs are needed for 10-12-year olds initially as they transition from devices as platforms for games to the world of social media and potential risk of cyber bullying
- We support transitioning year 7 into secondary school. There’s compelling reason to move 13 year olds into secondary school when all of the resources and support in not only Australia but also internationally, is based on the assumption that year seven students will be learning from specialist teachers.
- Review the ‘Research Project’ as currently delivered in senior secondary schools to determine its relevance how to best support teachers, parents and students.
- Encourage and support foreign language (in particular those with shared linguistic roots) teaching in schools as it broadens the vocabulary of English speakers, improves their grammar and provides greater cultural awareness and cultural intelligence. Fluency in language will increase opportunities for business and employment beyond Australia’s shores.
- Pilot a scholarship scheme for up to 50 students each year from disadvantaged backgrounds to live at a residential college whilst undertaking their tertiary studies.
- An urgent independent inquiry into TAFE SA with regard to course accreditation and operational management to be conducted by senior academics, experts and industry organisations, and to report back to the parliament by 1 June.
- Support vocational learning and training with its applied assessments along with its focus on personal learning and development. This support is crucial especially in light of catastrophe at TAFE under Labor.
- Restore industry skills boards (dismantled under Labor) in order to provide professional advice to maximise the effectiveness of vocational training and its integration into workplace outcomes.