Wednesday, 26 March 2014
That the Senate—
(a) agrees that every Australian student deserves a world-class education, specifically:
(i) that all Australian students deserve quality teachers and quality teaching to ensure the highest standard of education, and
(ii) that excellence in teaching practice has a significant impact on student outcomes;
(b) notes that Australia's most recent PISA [Programme for International Student Assessment] results indicate a downward trend in Australia's student performance relative to other nations across the fields of mathematics since 2003, reading since 2000 and scientific literacy since 2006;
(c) recognises That the most successful education systems across the globe have a consistent approach to education policy that has a practical focus on learning, and develops a strong culture of teacher education, research, collaboration, mentoring, feedback and continued professional development;
(d) accepts that high quality education is critical to ensuring the Australian economy is equipped with the skills and knowledge to adapt to the challenges of this century; and
(e) supports measures that improve professional development, pedagogical approaches, and mentoring for teachers in order to promote quality teaching in Australia.
Question agreed to.
I rise to express support for the motion but also to express surprise about which side of the chamber this motion has come from. Although I believe that Senator McKenzie does have the future of Australian schools at heart, we must remember that it is her government which has stood in the way of achieving everything Senator McKenzie proposes here.
The coalition government has undermined the recommendations of the Gonski review panel at every step of the way. The coalition education minister still maintains that there is no inequality in Australian schools. Australia's thousands of excellent teachers do have a huge impact on students all around the country, but the biggest determining factor for student outcomes in Australia remains family wealth. Until the coalition government acknowledges this and supports genuine needs based funding to give every child a world-class education we will not see the change we need. I urge Senator McKenzie to persuade the education minister to implement the original recommendations of the Gonski review panel in all Australian schools.
I rise to support Senator McKenzie in moving this motion and express a degree of surprise and reject the comments made by Senator Wright. We sit on enough committees so that we all know very well that there is a very strong support for education in this country. I remind Senator Wright—she is well aware—that the pillars are, firstly, parental engagement—the expectation of parents that will ensure that children go to school at the earliest age with the highest possible expectations; secondly, the quality of training of teachers; thirdly, the quality and mentoring and capacity of ongoing professional learning by teachers; and, lastly, special attention to the disadvantaged: those of Aboriginal background, disabled students, those from low socio-economic backgrounds and those from regional and remote areas. I strongly endorse Senator McKenzie's comments and I express disappointment at Senator Wright's.