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Budget 2007: Realising our potential: ensuring quality in our school system.

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Media Release

Realising our potential - ensuring quality in our school system

8 May 2007 BUDB 19/07

Around 3.4 million students from over 9,600 schools and school communities across Australia will benefit from the range of significant education initiatives announced today as part of the Australian Government’s 2007-08 Budget package.

The Australian Government is delivering more than $843 million over four years to schools through the Realising Our Potential package. The new initiatives will ensure that the Australian education system better meets the needs of students, enabling them to prosper economically and socially in a global environment. It will improve quality, ensure consistency and assist students falling behind in literacy and numeracy.

The Minister for Education, Science and Training, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, said today that the package of measures was carefully targeted and built on proven policies to assist schools, principals, teachers, universities and most importantly, students.

"The Realising Our Potential schooling package recognises that parents are entitled to an assurance of quality education for their children regardless of which school they choose - government or non-government, regional or remote," Minister Bishop said.

This year’s Budget highlights include:

• $457.4 million over four years for the National Literacy and Numeracy Vouchers programme which will provide assistance to parents of students who have not achieved minimum literacy or numeracy standards in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. • $101.7 million over four years for a new Australian Government Summer Schools for Teachers programme to be delivered by Australia’s best tertiary educators for our best teachers. The 10-day residential programmes will up-skill teachers in the core subjects of Literacy and Numeracy, English, Maths, Science and Australian History to support their ongoing professional learning and leadership role in schools. Teachers chosen for the Summer Schools will also receive a $5,000 bonus on completion of the programme. • $53.2 million over four years for the Rewarding Schools for Improving Literacy and Numeracy Outcomes initiative. Schools that can demonstrate sustained improvements measured against student literacy and numeracy achievement will be eligible for a grant of up to $50,000. This is a tangible incentive for schools to improve. • $77 million over four years for the Improving the Practical Component of Teacher Education initiative, which will boost funding for universities to ensure the practical experience of student teachers is of high quality and represents a substantial component of teacher education courses.

In addition to the total funding provided by the Realising Our Potential schooling package, the Australian Government will, from 2009, require that government and non-government education authorities focus on quality improvement. These measures set the foundations for future schools funding requirements, which will ensure continual improvement in the quality of education in Australian schools.

"The Realising Our Potential schooling package demonstrates the Australian Government’s ongoing commitment to parents and their children’s education," Minister Bishop said.

Media Contacts

Minister Bishop’s Office: Tory Vidler 0414 228 727

Dept of Education, Science & Training: Virginia Cook 0412 971 323

Non-media queries: 1300 363 079

Supporting Information

Why is this important?

• A well-educated, flexible, creative and self-confident population is the key to achieving economic prosperity and social and civic engagement. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), education is an important gateway to employment. By increasing the knowledge and skills of the future workforce, and preparing students for further education and training, the school system contributes significantly to higher national income and economic growth. This benefits all Australians.

Literacy and numeracy skills

• The basic skills acquired in schooling, particularly literacy and numeracy, are the necessary foundation for developing higher-order skills that create a more productive workforce. Literacy and numeracy achievement is the single most influential factor in Year 9 students staying on to complete Year 12 and the strongest predictor of tertiary entrance performance. • Low achievers are more likely to leave school before completing Year 12

and more likely to drop out as early as the end of Year 10. Students who stay on to complete Year 12 or an equivalent qualification are: o more likely to experience good transitions from school and settle more quickly into productive activities;

o more likely to gain a post-school qualification than early school leavers; o at lower risk of experiencing unemployment throughout their working life; o more likely to participate in the labour force at all ages (particularly

older ages); o more likely to be in full-time employment; and o higher income earners. • The teaching of literacy and numeracy in schools is therefore a critical

element in improving Australia’s participation rate, an ongoing concern in the context of the ageing of the population.

Rewarding quality teachers

• Research has shown that teacher quality is the single most important contributor to student outcomes after the socio-economic status and background of the student, consistent with findings based on substantial data in the United States. • Research also points to school autonomy in staffing decisions and allocating resources, accountability for performance, and early intervention, particularly for disadvantaged students, as key features of high-quality, high-performance schools across the world.

National core curricula standards

• A recent study conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) investigated the curriculum content and achievement standards of five selected Year 12 subjects across Australia, including English, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Australian History. • The study found that there is a huge array of arrangements across the states and territories in mathematics (27 different tertiary entrance courses offered across Australia),

History (20 different courses offered with only two called Australian History) and English (18 courses offered). • The study presents a compelling case for the identification of core curricula standards that specify what all students are expected to learn in a subject. It also calls for the development of achievement standards so that there is a nationally-consistent description of how well students are expected to learn the core in each subject.

Who will benefit?

• All school students will benefit from the Realising Our Potential schooling package. • Every parent is entitled to expect that their children will receive a high quality education and develop the core skills necessary to be able to

realise their potential, no matter which school they attend. The Realising Our Potential schooling package will drive reform in school education and help ensure that state and territory education authorities deliver quality schooling for all students. • Teachers, principals and school communities will benefit from skill

improvement provisions available under the package. • Universities will receive additional funding to improve the provision of teacher training. • Australia’s economy will also benefit as education builds capacity,

encourages social participation and can help individuals and groups overcome disadvantage.

What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?

• $843 million over four years.

What have we done in the past?

• The 2007-08 Budget continues the significant support for school education provided by the Australian Government including the following initiatives announced in the 2006-67 Budget: o $20.6 million for the Reading Assistance Voucher programme which

is providing $700 for Year 3 children not meeting national minimum literacy standards in 2006; o $22.9 million for the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Innovation to Support National Consistency which is

contributing to the provision of online content for all students and teachers and enabling schools to gain better access to digital resources of Australia’s cultural and scientific institutions; o Additional funding of $40.8 million for the English as a Second Language programme.