Wednesday, 27 May 2015
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Education and Training. How will the minister's proposal to ask the states and territories to make science or maths compulsory in years 11 and 12 and other measures to promote STEM in schools help prepare our young people for the future.? Why is it important that this goal be informed by facts?
I thank the member for Bonner for his question, because I know that he, like most members of this House, believes that promoting science and maths in school should be a national priority, and that is exactly what this government is doing. We are doing it in a number of ways. I will mention three, but there are more than three. We are reforming the national curriculum in order to create more space in the curriculum for in-depth study of science and maths. We are reforming initial teacher education so that there is an emphasis on specialisation around science and maths for primary school teachers. And we are putting the idea of science or maths being a compulsory subject in years 11 and 12 on the agenda for the education ministers' council meeting coming up this Friday. I am looking forward to working with the states and territories to examine how that might be able to be achieved.
We have received very strong support for this measure from the Chief Scientist, Ian Chubb, who has been working with the government over the last 18 months to try to repair the inertia that was the case under the previous government around science and maths. He said in a statement yesterday of the initiative on year 11 and 12 compulsory science or maths:
I support this initiative without reservation.
But let me turn to coding, which the Leader of the Opposition has suddenly discovered an interest in—or programming, as it is also called. The Leader of the Opposition spent most of last week holding door stops where he demanded that coding be included in the national curriculum. In fact—and I hate to break it to him—it is already in the national curriculum. It is called Digital Technologies, Australian Curriculum. I table Digital Technologies from the Australian Curriculum so that the Leader of the Opposition and his staff can examine the facts around coding and programming—
Mr Husic interjecting—
in the national curriculum. He seems to be let down once again. We saw on budget night, of course, that we had a $353 million proposal that became $45 million the next morning and $1.4 billion the next afternoon, when it really cost $2.25 billion. We also got a $3.5 million coding across the curriculum program to support teachers to promote coding in the curriculum. So, let me suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that rather than focus on his zingers he start focusing on the detail, that rather than thinking of lines like, 'I don't know what she said but I agree with it already' or 'The future is happening now' or 'Everybody is somebody' or, my favourite, 'If you don't know where you're going any road will get you there'—rather than focusing on these brilliant lines—he might actually do the homework that he expects of our students around Australian schools and get his facts right.
My question is to the Prime Minister. In light of the education minister's answer, will the Prime Minister commit to ensuring that coding is taught in every primary school in Australia to ensure that our children have the skills for the jobs of the future economy?
He says that he wants primary school kids to be taught coding so that they can get the jobs of the future. Does he want to send them all out to work at the age of 11? Is that what he wants to do? I mean, seriously: we know from his modelling that he thinks kids go straight from the delivery room to school, and now he thinks that they go straight from primary school to employment. This is a Leader of the Opposition in deep trouble. He is in deep, deep trouble. He is floundering, he is drowning, and frankly this question time performance demonstrates just why he is in such diabolical trouble.