OECD ‘Education at a Glance’ report shows teachers working harder

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20 September 2017

Australian teachers are working harder and public investment in education is lagging according to the recently released annual OECD snapshot, ‘Education at a Glance 2017‘.

The report found that Australian education spending is below the OECD average, and has been declining as a share of GDP over 2010–14, increasing by only six per cent compared with an 18 per cent increase in spending on broader government services.

Teachers are also working longer hours – up to 21 per cent longer than the OECD average – indicating they are working harder to make up for funding levels that are failing to keep pace with children’s learning needs.

The report was released as the Federal Government prepares to enter negotiations with States and Territories over schools funding. The government is claiming significant funding increases over ten years without comparing its proposed investment to the projected funding under existing agreements with States and Territories that it has now rejected.

Compared to those agreements, the Australian Education Union calculates schools will lose around $3 billion in the next two years alone. Now the OECD report has added strong additional evidence to calls for the Federal Government to do much more on education spending – especially for public schools.

‘Simon Birmingham can claim increases in school funding, but the objective evidence in this report suggests his watered-down plan will fail to lift Australia in the international rankings, or meet the needs of thousands of children in Australian public schools,’ said AEU Federal President, Correna Haythorpe.

‘The plan favours well-resourced private schools over public schools, and will leave far too many public schools below the school resourcing standard, and far too many private schools above it, even after ten years,’ she said.

In its coverage of the OECD report, the Guardian Australia noted a long-term decline in Year 9 maths, science and reading literacy results reported in the 2016 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), suggesting a link between declining education investment and poorer learning outcomes.

Read the AEU media release in response to the OECD report.