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Albanese Government must provide the critical support teachers deserve to raise school standards

The nation’s pre-eminent education research group, the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO), has warned that declining school standards cannot be fixed unless proven teaching methods such as explicit instruction are adopted in every school.

AERO’s evidence to Senate estimates backs consistent calls by the Coalition that explicit instruction and other evidence-based teaching methods must be mandated in every Australian classroom.

Shadow Minister for Education, Sarah Henderson, said with one in three students failing this year’s NAPLAN and Australia’s global ranking for student outcomes falling dramatically, declining school standards are a national embarrassment.

“AERO’s evidence makes it clear that the biggest disadvantage a child can face is not learning to read and write,” Senator Henderson said.

“Today, on World Teachers’ Day, the Coalition again calls on the Albanese Government to mandate explicit instruction and other proven teaching methods such as phonics in every school.”

“The adoption of the Year 1 phonics check and the explicit teaching of classroom behaviour in a traditional classroom setting are also vital. The science shows children are easily distracted in barn-like open classrooms.

“Unless Labor makes the tough decisions to ensure Australian teachers are properly supported with proven teaching methods, students will not reach their full potential.

“Despite a 60 per cent increase in schools funding over two decades, our clever country is declining into mediocrity and that needs to urgently change.”

In Senate Estimates yesterday, AERO’s Dr Jennifer Donovan said:  “I would define good teaching as being about the kinds of practices that lead to good learning, and they are the use of explicit instruction, and that is a term that covers a lot of other practices, including good management of classrooms, continual assessment, ensuring mastery, learning of foundation knowledge and the teaching of phonics”.

Senator Henderson said that with some notable exceptions, universities continue to deliver sub-standard teacher training not consistent with the science.

“It is no wonder that so many teachers feel ill-equipped in the classroom and are leaving the profession in droves,” Senator Henderson said.

“With Labor so captive to the Australian Education Union which has shown no interest in this critical issue, my concern is that Jason Clare isn’t tough enough to stand up to the activists who are only interested in feathering their own nest.

“It is critical that the next National School Reform Agreement must not only deliver what works to raise school standards, but hold states and territories to account when they fail to act in the best interests of Australian students and their families.”

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