Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 September 2018) . . Page.. 3823 ..
I am happy to outline today that a big conversation has in fact been had and the product of this conversation is a future of education strategy that lays out a road map for work over the coming 10 years … The ACT education system of the future will be personalised to each child. It will celebrate difference. It will take a holistic view of the people it serves—our children and our young people.
The 10-year road map? Does that road map acknowledge the work that has already been done by now—the five different reports that outline the ACT’s declining academic standards? Does that 10-year road map acknowledge repeated calls for a review into performance standards in our schools as a matter of priority?
When the 2015 PISA results were made public, the minister suggested that she would explore the information. But she went on to say that Canberra is significantly above the Australian average and our declining performance is replicating similar trends in other jurisdictions. Then there is the other tested method: “Oh, but the other jurisdictions are just catching up to us.”
That makes it okay, then, does it? While ever we are ahead of other states it does not matter that we are now 39 out of 41 countries in education on global standards? It does not matter that our maths students are one and a half years behind where they were in 2003? And it does not matter that our percentage of high performing students in maths has almost halved from 27 per cent to 14 per cent over 12 years?
Apparently it does not matter because, Madam Deputy Speaker, it is not her fault. The minister prefers to hide behind union objections to standardised testing, especially NAPLAN, and refers to talk instead of how wicked NAPLAN is. When pushed, it is either a line including the magic fix-all word “equity” or, another line she repeats, “Every one of our schools is great.” If the minister cannot even acknowledge that there is a serious and systemic academic underperformance in ACT schools, what hope do Canberra parents, students and the broader community have that she will actually do something about it?
The minister fails to understand that whether it is NAPLAN or any other assessment tool they are simply indicators of whether we are on the wrong track. For too long we have been on the wrong track. The minister fails to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence of our slipping academic standards in the time ACT Labor has been in charge of education in the ACT.
The minister fails to understand that equity is not the catch-all buzzword miracle answer to everything in our education system. The minister fails to acknowledge that we are now currently 39 out of 41 countries in terms of educational outcomes in the OECD. And in failing in all these areas, she fails our future generation.
The ACT needs a teacher-led, student-focused education system that will teach our students the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy, equip them with the skills they need for the future and foster a culture and expectation of rigour and excellence in education. Anything less is just not good enough.
The starting point must be an independent review into where we are going wrong with academic performance. A review that will get us to the heart of why we are not