Innovation Agenda won't succeed without more qualified maths and science teachers and Gonski funding

8 December 2015

The Turnbull Government’s innovation agenda must tackle inequity in schools and shortages of qualified maths and science teachers if it is to succeed, the AEU said today.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that turning Australia into an innovation-based economy must begin at schools by ensuring all students get the education they need.

“If Malcolm Turnbull is serious about turning Australia into an innovative, competitive and flexible nation he needs to deliver the full six years of needs-based Gonski funding to schools,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Without that funding many schools will not get the resources they need to give all their students the quality education they need for the 21st century.

“An innovative nation must educate all its children so they can reach their potential, regardless of their circumstances and background.

“We need a proper investment in schools which must include making sure all students are taught maths and science by qualified specialist teachers.

“At the moment around 40 per cent of our Years 7 to 10 mathematics classes are taught without a qualified mathematics teacher.

“One third (32 per cent) of secondary students are in schools where the principals said a lack of qualified maths teachers hindered learning, and 25 per cent are in schools where the principal said a lack of qualified science teachers hindered learning.

“The PISA international comparison of students in 2012 found that 20% of Australian students failed to reach international minimum standards in maths, leaving them in danger of leaving school without the basic skills necessary to get a job.

“PISA also found students from disadvantaged schools were two-and-a-half years behind the rest of Australia in maths and science, a bigger gap than the global average.

“The innovation initiatives announced yesterday that related to schools were piecemeal, one-off programs which will do nothing to deal with long-term shortages of maths and science teachers.

“How can we have an ‘ideas boom’ without ensuring that all students get a basic grounding in maths and science from qualified teachers?

“They also do nothing to deal with the long-term inequities in our school system which will require needs-based Gonski funding to address.

“If the Federal Government does not implement the full six years of Gonski funding it will strip $3.9 billion in funding from schools – equivalent to 20,000 teachers in public schools alone.”

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291