Subject: Improving school standards.
JACQUELINE FELGATE: There’s an urgent push to improve the quality of our schools amid reports Australia is falling behind the rest of the world. The country’s standards in reading, science and maths have dropped significantly in almost two decades, to 16th, 17th and 29th respectively. For more on this, let’s bring in Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge, who’s heading this 10-year campaign. Thank you for joining us this afternoon Minister. Can you tell us how the declines happened?
ALAN TUDGE: There’s no single reason why our standards have declined over the last 20 years. But there certainly has been a profound shift both in absolute terms, as well as relative to other countries. And this is despite a massive increase in funding. Now, it’s partly because I don’t think we’ve had the most effective training at the universities. I think the curriculum has been too cluttered. And in some instances, we’ve had major workforce issues and shortages, particularly in mathematics. So they’re some of the things that we need to work on.
JACQUELINE FELGATE: So can you talk us through a little bit about the new campaign and what’s being done at the Federal Level to achieve better results?
ALAN TUDGE: Yeah, so there’s three things that I will be concentrating on. Firstly, attracting the highest calibre people into teaching, and training them in the most effective way. Second, having a world class curriculum, which is up there with the best in the world. And then thirdly, having great assessment tools to support the teachers in the world that they do in the class room.
JACQUELINE FELGATE: So, can you tell us how things are being done differently in top performing countries like Finland and Singapore?
ALAN TUDGE: So, places like Finland and Singapore, who are considerably above us in their standards, they have very high selection criteria for people going into teaching to start with. They have very rigorous training regimes, and they have a very rigorous curriculum. They’re the main differences, really, between those countries and Australia. And they are some of the things that we would like to replicate.
JACQUELINE FELGATE: And are there things at home that parents who are watching can do to help their kids?
ALAN TUDGE: That’s a great question. I mean of course as parents, I am one, you are always trying to encourage your kids to do their homework, to stay up to speed. And of course be disciplined in the classroom. And that’s a very important factor as well.
JACQUELINE FELGATE: Yeah, I always have trouble with that one. The homework. Thank you so much for your time Minister, great to get your thoughts this afternoon.
ALAN TUDGE: Absolute pleasure.