Schools need resources not yet another test

29 January 2017

The Federal Government’s proposed Year 1 ‘phonics test’ is another distraction from its agenda of ending needs-based funding to schools, the AEU said today.

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said the phonics test, re-announced by Education Minister Simon Birmingham today, would do nothing to lift literacy and numeracy standards because what schools needed were the resources to help struggling students.

“Phonics is already taught in schools in every state in Australia, along with other methods of teaching young children to read,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Schools are working with and monitoring their students every day, they know which students are struggling and need help. What is the point of introducing yet another test for Year 1 students, if there is no funding to support the students who are struggling?

“This is yet another distraction from the Coalition’s agenda of ending Gonski funding and scrapping needs-based funding to our schools after 2017.

“This will hit disadvantaged students hardest, and stop an extra $3.8 billion in resources going to school.

“That means students will miss out on the in-class support, speech therapy and extra literacy and numeracy programs Gonski funding is already providing.”

“This measure is being announced without any consultation with the profession or with state governments.

“Minister Birmingham is already facing huge opposition from state governments who understand the difference Gonski is making and the need to properly resource our schools.

“Public school systems in every state are below the Schooling Resource Standard set by the Gonski panel, and the Coalition’s funding policy will see them stay there.

“We believe it is vital that our future teachers have the skills they need for the modern classroom, including teaching of literacy.

“Any measures to raise the quality of teacher training need to be accompanied by minimum entry standards for teaching courses to arrest the worrying decline in recent years.

“Recruiting teachers from the best academic performers is a feature of high-performing school systems such as Singapore, and something we need to emulate.

“We currently have a surplus of teaching graduates, but shortages of qualified maths and science teachers. We need proper workforce planning, led by the Federal Government, to fix this.

“Unfortunately we have a Federal Government with no plan for schools, just cuts to resources that will hit disadvantaged students the hardest.”

Media Contact: Ben Ruse 0437 971 291