Minister for Education Dan Tehan said states and territories must refocus on the basics of literacy and numeracy.
“Next week’s Education Council meeting provides the opportunity to reset the national education agenda and we must be bold in doing so,” Mr Tehan said.
“Australia’s results in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests are very disappointing, especially in mathematics and science. These results should have alarm bells ringing.
“Australia should be a leader in school education. Our students should be ranked among the best in the world. We should not accept anything less.
“The time has come for us to change direction. Next week at Education Council we have the opportunity to make a difference. My message to the state and territory education ministers is this: leave the teacher’s union talking points at home and be ambitious. We have a clear roadmap to implement the reforms that will improve student outcomes and we should be bold and decisive.
“Recommendation 6 of the Gonski review said prioritise the implementation of learning progressions for literacy and numeracy during the early years of schooling to ensure the core foundations for learning are developed by all children by the age of eight.
“Education Council must agree to move forward and implement learning progressions at next week’s meeting. They also need to back all the reforms that make up the National School Reform Agreement and embed how to teach phonics as part of teacher training.
“We know high-quality teaching makes the biggest difference to a student’s education, and learning progressions will empower teachers to use their professional judgement to deliver highly-personalised, informed teaching plans.
“Our school systems also need to de-clutter their curriculums and get back to basics. We should focus on teaching students literacy and numeracy because they are the essential foundations for a successful education, and should be at the core of the curriculum.
“Our Government is providing record funding of $310.3 billion to schools. Money is not the issue because Estonia was the top-performing country in reading and science and they spend half as much money per student as Australia.
“Our children deserve a world-leading education that gives them the skills to thrive in a fast-changing world. Strong literacy, maths and science skills are fundamental to that success.”