Shorten promises $4.6m for targeted teaching as Coalition questions the ALP’s economic credibility
May 12, 2016 | News | by The Learning Press staff
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has announced a $4.6 million boost for targeted teaching as he continues to focus on school education in the first week of Labor’s election campaign.
The Labor leader says a Shorten government will expand the use of targeted teaching, a method through which teachers rigorously assess and focus on the specific learning needs of individual students.
It is an approach endorsed by the independent policy think tank the Grattan Institute, with Australian trials showing it has the potential to improve the proportion of disadvantaged students meeting early primary learning benchmarks by up to 20 per cent.
Mr Shorten claims the policy will help “put Australian students on the right track to meet Labor’s target for our schools to be back in the top five internationally for reading, maths and science by 2025”.
Labor’s policy documents states: “Targeted teaching is about recognising that a one-size-fits-all approach to the classroom does not achieve the best results, and backing our educators in their hard work to support every student.
“It means catching students before they fall too far behind, and making sure students who are ahead are still challenged to reach their full potential.”
But Mr Shorten has also warned that school funding under a Labor government would be “conditional on evidence-based learning programs which are proven to increase student results” - a reflection of the Coalition’s plan to tie extra education funding to conditions around teaching and learning improvements.
The Coalition has meanwhile continued to attack Labor’s economic management, with finance minister Mathias Cormann accusing Bill Shorten of being ignorant or deliberately misleading in his predictions of the economic benefits flowing from the party’s proposed education reforms.
“Bill Shorten is not up to the job of successfully managing the important transition happening in our economy,” he told The Australian newspaper.
The claim was made after the author of a report used by Labor to illustrate that its 37.5 billion schools spending plan would lead to a 2.8 per cent rise in economic growth, questioned the figures.
Stanford University professor Eric Hanushek, who co-wrote the OECD-commissioned Universal Basic Skills report, told The Australian that it measured economic gains over eight decades to 2095.
He said the 2.8 per cent growth was a predicted long-term benefit - not an increase flowing “the moment” children’s academic performance improved, as claimed by shadow finance minister Tony Burke.
The professor cautioned against the claims of rapid growth and said his work did not directly link higher spending with better academic results.
The Coalition argues that greater spending does not directly equate to better student outcomes and Australians should focus more on teacher quality, parent engagement, school autonomy and a new curriculum as improvement drivers.