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Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Page: 2412


Senator GICHUHI (South Australia) (14:50): My question is to the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham. Can the minister inform the Senate of the national teaching awards and the importance of recognising quality teaching?

Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (14:51): I thank Senator Gichuhi for her question and her particular interest in excellence in teaching. Last week it was my pleasure to attend the Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards, which recognise and reward 12 outstanding teachers and school leaders for the way in which they improve the learning outcomes of Australian students. That came hot on the heels of the recent Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher Summit. The Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers program recognises certified outstanding teachers whose practice sets a benchmark and provides an example of the real impacts that great teaching practice has on student learning. Professor John Hattie, of the University of Melbourne and chair of AITSL, and a range of international experts from the OECD and elsewhere presented at the HALT summit, which recognised the quality of teaching.

The Commonwealth Bank Teaching Awards were delivered by Australian Schools Plus—and I acknowledge Senator Collins' role in the establishment of Australian Schools Plus. Australian Schools Plus Pioneers in Philanthropy is chaired by David Gonski. I acknowledge his contribution and the contribution of many of the Pioneers of Australian Schools Plus. Australian Schools Plus provided awards to a number of teachers of outstanding practice. I particularly acknowledge and congratulate on the record Matthew Eyles, from Hobart College, for his innovative real-world experiences in health; Yasodai Selvakumaran, from Rooty Hill High School, for her specialist knowledge and focus on history and society; Kerry White, from Holy Family Catholic School in South Australia, for positive education initiatives; and Greg McMahon, from Doveton College in Victoria, for drawing on international research to overhaul the school's approach to teaching and learning. Each of these award winners is an outstanding example to their colleagues and sets a benchmark that is met by many other quality teachers across the country in the way they provide outstanding learning opportunities to their students.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Gichuhi, a supplementary question.

Senator GICHUHI (South Australia) (14:53): Can the minister inform the Senate how the teaching award winners are using evidence based measures to improve student results?

Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (14:53): Applicants and award winners must demonstrate that they are having a true impact on their students' learning. Many of Friday's award winners were recognised for the improved NAPLAN results of their students, which many cited in their applications. Some of those have improved quite dramatically. Ann Caro, from Lithgow High School, highlighted that her students have improved dramatically in the Higher School Certificate and NAPLAN results. John Cleary, a HALT teacher from Casuarina Street Primary School in the Northern Territory, noted that his students now had one of the nation's best NAPLAN-measured improvements between years 3 and 5 in reading, writing and numeracy. John Goh, from Merrylands East Public School in New South Wales, stressed that the literacy and numeracy results in that school had improved dramatically. And Paul Kenna, of Belle Vue Park Primary School in Victoria, highlighted that the NAPLAN results over the past four years show that the school is now well above growth measures for similar student cohorts. This demonstrates that these teachers are using measures and tools to assess the success in their classrooms.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Gichuhi, a final supplementary question.

Senator GICHUHI (South Australia) (14:54): Will the minister provide the Senate with further information on how the Turnbull government is providing for teachers, principals and schools to help them meet the individual needs of their students?

Senator BIRMINGHAM (South AustraliaMinister for Education and Training and Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (14:54): The ongoing work of AITSL in regard to the certification of teachers and ensuring that teachers can work towards being recognised as highly accomplished teachers, as lead teachers within their schools, is helping to lift practice and, indeed, is seeing, in many of those schools, those highly accomplished and lead teachers given the opportunity to mentor newer, younger teachers to take on more leadership roles and to be recognised for their excellence, without necessarily moving into principal, administrator or other positions.

The government is also supporting enhanced improvements to the way in which teacher training occurs. The reforms, as a result of the TEMAG program, around initial teacher education are ensuring higher benchmarks for those leaving our higher education institutions in future, around the quality of their teaching practice. As has been discussed many times before, the Turnbull government is delivering record and growing funding into Australian schools, across all states, across all different sectors, providing an extra $25 billion, distributed fairly, according to need. (Time expired)