Education Policy

RISE UP AUSTRALIA PARTY EDUCATION POLICY

Labor came to power in 2007 promising “nothing less than a revolution in education”¹.

Unfortunately education under the Labor Government has gone backwards.

The 2012 International Benchmarking results for year 4 students show that we only rank 27th out of 45 nations in reading. In year 4 maths we were placed 18th of 50 nations with 30% of students below the intermediate benchmark (basic knowledge in dealing with whole numbers, fractions, shapes, graphs and tables).  In year 8 maths we were placed 12th out of 42 nations, but 37% of Australian students lacked basic skills in decimals, graphs, tables and simple algebra.

The Labor Government has promised to throw more money at the problem, but this is not the solution. It is going to take a centralised, and country wide solution, to fix the problem. We don’t need better teachers, better subjects, better schools or better students. All we need is to meld them all into a working solution and get the participation of everyone in the mix.

Labor has failed to handle the billions of taxpayer funds that have been poured into the “Schools Halls” programmes, so why do they think they could handle the rest of the schools policy with money. We will vote with the Coalition to redirect BER “school hall” funds away from state education departments and instead give these funds directly to the schools. This will allow each school to self-manage their project in order to deliver better value for money.  Any leftover funds may be kept by the school for other capital projects. We will, however, not allow sub-standard building to be done and all plans, and building methods, must be passed by a government building plan committee.

As Rise Up Australia Party believes in Financial Transparency we will vote with the Coalition to establish a full Judicial Inquiry on behalf of taxpayers to get to the bottom of the BER “school hall” mismanagement and probable rorting.

Rise Up Australia Party believes that a Top Quality education is both a right and a necessity. We are committed to building an education system that will equip Australian children to succeed in an ever increasing competitive world. We understand that it is important for Australia’s economic prosperity and we realise that we need to get this right.

Our public school system needs to be among the best in the world!

Learning needs to be instilled into children from their early years, as by age 3 children have acquired more than half of the language that they will use for the rest of their lives. We will look for methods to help parents increase the learning of their children in the home, before they start school. At school the 3 R’s will be drummed into all students.

All students deserve to get the same quality of education and the standard needs to be set by the public school system.  Principals and teachers and other stakeholders² should have input into this.  There should also be an end to the current marking systems. The current system has dumbed down standards, levelling out classroom learning to the lowest common denominator. Students need to be marked on their true ability. External exams should be set regularly and issued over the internet.  Sample answers of all previous exams should be available online for all students to access.  All exams need to be set in two parts to show firstly, the ability of a student to remember facts, and secondly to demonstrate their ability to apply the theory in unknown situations.  All high school exams should be standardised country wide.  Students to be given a lifetime student number and their marks to be recorded on the “My School” website under that number. Statistics and graphs to be issued showing the differences between home-grown Australians and immigrants, as well as benchmarking against the top countries overseas, so that we can measure how we are doing.  Each year the top 5% of scholars are to be asked to complete a questionnaire as to their background and the study techniques that they used. These will be analysed and shared on the “My School” website to help other students with their preparation for exams.

Funding

Schools need to be funded equally.  This applies to all schools. It makes no difference whether they are Government or Private. We will not differentiate between any type of private schools eg Christian Schools.  It is important that all schools can provide the same quality of education.  People in Public schools should be able to receive the same quality of education as those at Private schools.  People in rural communities should also be able to receive the same quality of education as well.  All country schools to have top quality broadband / internet access.  All country schools to have telephone/video conferencing with other schools with a view to handling problems and teaching techniques. An education website to be used for teacher feedback and suggestions for outcome improvements.  We will restructure the “My School” website and use it to identify struggling schools and give them extra help to lift their results.

Schools with students who face additional challenges would be entitled to extra funding for example: kids from low income families, Indigenous students, students with disabilities, rural students.

We would establish a School Technology Fund to ensure schools get the technology they need.

Every school in Australia will be eligible to apply for grants to provide items such as:

Projection Equipment
Laptops and computers
Software
Printers and Scanners
Video Cameras
Other ICT equipment
To boost ICT equity in schools, applications from the most disadvantaged schools will be given priority.

When in office we will look at the real cost of children’s education, and in line with our policy of simplifying the tax system, we will recommend a straight deduction for all people who have children at school.

We will fund a national school chaplaincy program in all government schools, and will also look to increase specialist teachers for children with special needs.

Current annual indexation would be replaced by a new measure that reflects the real cost increases across all schools.

We will continue to fund the Secure Schools Programme which helps protect schools that face a special risk of attack, harassment or violence stemming from racial or religious intolerance.

Discipline and Control

There should be discipline in all schools.  Every child has the right to learn in a safe environment, free from physical, or verbal, bullying. Principals and teachers will be empowered to tackle both physical and cyber bullying, both in, and off, the school grounds, and we would support a national anti-bullying education campaign. We believe that Principals should have the right to discipline students within strict guidelines, and to expel non-conforming students.

The 3 strike rule will apply, but students who are expelled, will have the right to appeal to a State run Board.  The Board’s decision will be final.

Salaries

We believe that teachers’ salaries should be set at levels which recognise their training and experience.

For this reason the salary grades for teachers will be increased by an extra level to allow for rewarding our best and brightest teachers. It is envisaged that no more than 10% of teachers would be paid at this grade.

As with other professionals, all teachers will be required to spend 20 hours per year in ongoing personal development, in order to keep abreast of the latest teaching techniques.  Top teachers will be identified, and their lessons videotaped, and these will be used to assist in raising the performance of other teachers and trainee teachers.

Curriculum

To allow Australian children to be among the best educated in the world, it is essential that we have a nationally consistent curriculum. To this end we will widen the consultative process.

We will also ensure that all school children are taught a curriculum that includes a balanced view of history, that includes the history of Western civilization (Greek, Roman and European), Aboriginal history, Magna Carta, Westminster democracy and the Judeo-Christian heritage that has come to us through for example the words of Henry Parkes, founding father, who said, “We are pre-eminently a Christian nation, as our laws, our whole system of jurisprudence, our constitution … are based upon and interwoven with our Christian beliefs”.

Resources will be supplied to enable teachers to be trained in the new curriculum particularly in the area of history.  DVD and IT technology will be used extensively in the training cycle.

We disagree with the Coalition which states that the ability to speak a foreign language should be regarded as one of the hallmarks of a good education. No student will be forced to study a second language, but we will introduce optional training in the languages of our major trading partners.

We believe that parents have the right to home school their children providing the children pass a National year-end exam.

Outcomes

The outcomes of students should match those of other students throughout the country, and should be in the top percentile in the world. The “My School” website will be developed to allow for more transparency as to how schools are performing and the public will be able to drill down into the site for comparison purposes year on year.

All students should be encouraged to complete year 12, either at an academic school, or at a TAFE.

Transparency

In line with Rise Up Australia Party’s policy of government transparency, all schools will be forced to publish information on the “My School” website. This will allow all Australians to follow the progress of the schools, as well as how they are performing both Academically and Financially. This intense scrutiny should lead to questions being asked, and solutions sought, before we find ourselves lower down the International Benchmarking Results.

Universities

University should be available to all Australians who want to go to university, and Australians should be given preference to students from overseas.  At the same time university is not a right, and minimum marks should be required for students wanting to do further studies.

Universities should be allowed, however, to offer full-fee paying places to potential students whose marks do not meet the HECS requirements, provided that this does not take away from the Commonwealth subsidised places that are available.

Students should not be forced to join student unions, or any other organisations, if they do not wish to.

There should be additional assistance for indigenous students in order for them to get to university.

TAFES

Rise Up Australia Party will support the establishment of new Technical Colleges, in partnership with industry.  These TAFES will provide high quality training for apprentices, as well as alleviating the skills shortage in traditional trades.

They will also allow students the opportunity to complete their high school education while doing their apprenticeship.

We will look at phasing out government funding for privately provided VET where TAFES can provide the same education and training.



¹ “Rudd vows education revolution” Sydney Morning Herold 23 January 2007

² “Other stakeholders” would include representatives of parents, employers, government, Universities and TAFES

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