Opposition Education spokesman Christopher Pyne has confirmed that a Coalition Government would increase class sizes in Australian schools and ignore the need for extra funding for disadvantaged schools.
Acting School Education Minister Senator Chris Evans said the Opposition clearly wants fewer teachers and massive class sizes, where students won’t get the individual attention they need.
“After months of deafening silence on education policy, this is all he can come up with – sacking teachers and squeezing more students into our classrooms,” Senator Evans said.
In his interview on Lateline last night, Pyne said Australia had become “obsessed” with small class sizes and should model itself on other countries where classes of more than 40 students are common.
He also dismissed the findings of the Gonski review into school funding, which has been welcomed by the education community across the country.
And he ignored the evidence of the Gonski review, the COAG Reform Council and the OECD by claiming that there is no link between low-socio economic background and student performance.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: The greatest determinants of the outcome of students is the parental involvement in their children's lives at school, it's about principal autonomy, it's about the independence that teachers have to teach, it's about governing council control of schools.
PRESENTER: But it's also about socioeconomic background, isn't it?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, not really.
“All the evidence says otherwise. For example – by Year 9, the gap in reading, maths and science literacy between disadvantaged and advantaged students is equivalent to about two years of schooling,” Senator Evans said.
“Perhaps Christopher Pyne needs to get out and visit some schools in disadvantaged or remote communities to see the evidence for himself.”
His only other solution is to announce policies the Gillard Government is already introducing:
- Paying our best teachers more – which we’re doing through our Rewards for Great Teachers scheme
- Giving principals more autonomy – which we’re doing with our Empowering Local Schools initiative.
“Christopher Pyne is out of touch with the education community. He has no vision for Australian schools but instead has promised to slash the schools budget by $2.8 billion,” Senator Evans said.
“In contrast, the Gillard Government has almost doubled funding for schools, with targeted spending on teacher quality and helping disadvantaged students.”