The Gillard Government has taken the next step towards a National Plan for School Improvement with the introduction to Parliament today of the Australian Education Bill 2012.

The Bill enshrines in law our commitment to giving every Australian school student access to a high-quality, high-equity education, no matter where they live, the school they attend or their personal circumstances.

It also commits to the ambitious target of being in the top five schooling nations in the world for reading, science and maths by 2025.

And it confirms the Gillard Government’s intention to introduce a fairer school funding model, based on the key recommendations of the independent Gonski Review of school funding.

This includes a benchmark amount per student, with extra money for students and schools facing educational disadvantage.

Every school will see its funding continue to rise under this new model. The Australian Education Bill sets out the core reform directions of the National Plan for School Improvement:

  • Quality teaching – making sure we have the best and brightest teachers in our classrooms
  • Quality learning – including a world-class curriculum, a safe school environment and individual support for students
  • Empowered school leadership – giving principals more say over how they run their schools
  • Better information – giving the community more detailed information on schools and their performance
  • Meeting student need – more help for disadvantaged students and schools

Under the plan, every Australian student will have significant exposure to studies in Asia across the curriculum, including access to studying an Asian language from their first day of school.

The Government is serious about improving our school education system and giving all Australian students the chance to receive the life-changing benefits of a great education.

We are prepared to invest significantly more money into schools over time, focused on the things that we know can work to lift results. But the state and territory governments need to play their part and invest their fair share.

School improvement is a national priority and must be a shared responsibility between all Governments. Over the past decade our results in international tests have stalled or gone backwards, and too many students are still being left behind.

If we want Australia to remain strong and prosperous, and if we want our children to be able to take advantage of the opportunities the Asian century will bring, then governments, schools and the community must work together to improve our schools.

The Gillard Government has already delivered record investment for our schools.

We’ve introduced a national curriculum, built new or updated facilities at every school, and delivered billions in extra funding for literacy and numeracy, quality teaching and support for disadvantaged schools.

The next step is to build on these reforms with a national plan that will deliver fair funding and better results for every school and every student.

We will continue to discuss the National Plan for School Improvement with state and territory governments, and the Catholic and independent sectors, over the coming months.

Our goal is to reach agreement with states and territories, and the non-government sector, early in 2013.

The Australian Education Bill will be updated in 2013 to reflect the details of these agreements. If passed, the Bill will come into effect on 1 January 2014, with a transition period to give schools and systems time to adjust.

This Bill will be the most important Act of 2013. These reforms will lay the foundations for a world-leading school education system. They will help keep our economy strong and innovative, and help give every young Australian the best possible start in life.

Prime Minister
The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Minister for School Education
Peter Garrett AM MP