In the next 12 months the future funding of every public school in Australia will be decided.
Federal Education minister Jason Clare will sit down with his state and territory counterparts to negotiate a new National School Reform Agreement, along with bilateral agreements that set out the future funding levels for schools in each jurisdiction.
As part of the preparation for those negotiations, Mr Clare established an expert panel to look at the reforms that should be tied to additional funding to improve results and student wellbeing and close unacceptable achievement gaps between children from different backgrounds.
That expert panel recently conducted a nationwide survey of almost 25,000 students, educators, parents and guardians.
The findings of the survey show educators, parents, guardians and students all support additional investments to help every child succeed.
Reducing workloads the number one priority for educators
Almost 14,000 educators completed the survey including teachers, principals, Aboriginal Education Officers and other education workers. Almost 80% were employed in public schools or had been in the last 12 months.
Not surprisingly, educators were clear that unsustainable workloads are the number one thing that needs to be addressed to retain teachers and lift student results.
“Reducing teacher workload (and addressing retention) is the most important need,” the survey report concluded.
A reduced teacher workload (74.2%) came in ahead of more support to manage students with complex and diverse needs (62.3%) and greater access to support staff (33.5%) as the top three priorities of educators.
Asked specifically what governments should invest in to improve student outcomes, educators nominated more specialist classroom support for students (54.5%), more teachers (53.8%) and small group or individual tutoring to help children who fall behind (42.8%).
Educators in public schools were the strongest supporters of these investments.
To improve the health and wellbeing of students, the top investment priorities of public school educators were additional school counsellors and psychologists (70.3%) and better access to allied health professionals, such as speech pathologists and occupational therapists (60.4%).
Parents and guardians want support for students falling behind
Across the nation almost 8,500 parents and guardians completed the survey.
A majority (54.5%) nominated small group or individual tutoring as the best investment to help their child learn and reach their potential.
Less than half of those with a child in a public school said this support was currently available.
The need for more teachers was also nominated by almost half the parents and guardians with a child in a public school.
To support learning and student wellbeing, the top three priorities for parents and guardians were: professional development for teachers and staff (86.2%), programs that support student engagement and belonging (86%) and more school counsellers, psychologists or mental health support officers (78.3%).
Students need one on one support
A majority of students who participated in the survey were enrolled in public schools (1,755 out of 2,790).
The top investment priority for all students was ensuring schools were able to respond to their individual needs (40.9%), followed by reducing disruptions from other students (40.3%), upgrades to learning spaces, technology or in-class resources (35.7%) and tutoring with a small group of other students (30.2%).
To support their health and wellbeing, students nominated the best investments as activity clubs (17.5%), more school counsellors and mental health support professionals (15.4%) and sports clubs (15.3%).
The survey findings will inform the final report of the expert panel due to be delivered to the Federal Government by October 31 this year. Negotiations with state and territory governments are due to commence shortly after.
Learn more about why the politicians must deliver full funding of public schools by 2028.
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