Last night the federal budget delivered across-the-board cuts and the education sector was certainly not immune.
Schools need certainty in both funding and direction.
Funding has been essentially cut in real terms by linking increases to CPI, while educational expenditure grows at almost double the rate.
The Better Schools Plan (Gonski), which was agreed to by the majority of states, had given schools a clear pathway for improvement within a national framework. This has now been abandoned and the government has adopted a ‘back to the future’ approach of devolving responsibility to the states.
Regardless of your politics, if we want Australia to be competitive internationally we need a coherent, funded national policy framework for schools focused on the areas that make the greatest difference. We know this focus needs to be on improving the quality of teaching by building professional expertise and practice.
Cuts to AITSL and ACARA will significantly impact on Australia’s ability to deliver a national framework encompassing a national standard for teachers and leaders, and a national curriculum.
Furthermore, the constantly shifting educational landscape with each successive government or budget serves as a distraction to the core work of improving schooling.
Any plan for improvement relies on three things – clarity, precision and relentless consistency. Can we be surprised, then, that Australia is not gaining momentum in school performance?