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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 August 2015) . . Page.. 2710 ..

blueprint for what the federal government is doing, and I am pleased that he recognises the quality work that the coalition government is doing to lift educational outcomes and teacher quality throughout Australia. The federal coalition parties first proposed these initiatives before they came to government, and I congratulate him on recognising the quality work that it is.

The basis for the initiatives outlined in the motion today are contained in the federal coalition’s education policy, released in August 2013, just prior to the federal election. Called “Policy for schools: students first”, the policy was built on four key principles. Of the four, two are of direct relevance to this motion today: a renewed focus on what students learn through a robust national curriculum; and improved quality of teaching and related support services.

In respect of the quality of teaching, the approach of the current federal government was, and remains, an unambiguous policy that focuses on improving teacher quality, because we all know, and domestic and international studies have consistently shown us, that teacher quality has the greatest impact on student learning outcomes. The coalition policy commits to working with state and territory governments to ensure that Australia’s quality of teaching is world class and that teachers have the support they need to succeed.

The ACT is a high performing system by national standards—and well it might be, given the higher socioeconomic profile of parents and the fact that per capita spending on students is high. But national performance is flatlining and by international standards Australia is not that impressive in terms of educational outcomes.

We have to accept that Australia’s performance on international testing has declined significantly since 2000. Research undertaken by Thomson, De Bortoli and Buckley in 2013, and others since, tells us that. This is apparently particularly the case in the ACT, which has experienced large falls which cannot be explained by demographic changes. I am confident that the ACT Education and Training Directorate is also aware of these claims, so this is not about me talking down education in the ACT, as Minister Burch so often accuses me of, and no doubt will again today. It is about addressing some home truths and honestly addressing what needs to be done. That is what the federal government has done since coming to government, and through the COAG process this is what all states and territories, including the ACT, are setting about redressing.

Indeed, with the initiatives that the federal government is driving for all states, and the ACT is adopting, there are some exciting initiatives available for the uptake. The basis for much of this work was undertaken by the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group, the same group that Dr Bourke’s motion references. The Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group was established by the federal education minister, Christopher Pyne, in 2014—the same minister about whom Minister Burch had some less than flattering remarks to make, as I recall—to provide advice on what changes were needed in training Australian schoolteachers. I say to Ms Burch—through you, Madam Speaker—that I was referring to your tweet.

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