Expert panel to inform a better and fairer education system

The Federal Government is seeking to honour its election commitment of ensuring every school is on a path to 100% of its fair funding level

The Federal Government has announced an Expert Panel, to lead a review into the education system.

The panel, chaired by Dr Lisa O’Brien AM will advise Education Ministers on the key targets and specific reforms that should be tied to funding in the next National School Reform Agreement. Dr O’Brien is the chair of the Australian Education Research Organisation, and former CEO of the Smith Family, an organisation focussed on helping young people overcome educational inequity.

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In announcing the appointment of Dr O’Brien, Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said Australia has a good education system, but it can be a lot better and a lot fairer.

“At the election we made a commitment to work with State and Territory Governments to get every school on a path to 100 percent of its fair funding level,” Minister Clare said. “Funding is critical, but so is what it does.

“If you’re a child today from a poor family, or from the bush, or you’re an Indigenous child, then you’re three times more likely to fall behind at school.

“This expert panel will provide us with the advice we need to put in place the specific reforms to help turn this around.”

Review to Inform a Better and Fairer Education System (the Review) will inform development of the next National School Reform Agreement (the agreement). A joint agreement between Commonwealth, states and territories, the agreement seeks to lift student outcomes across Australia.

The Australian Government said it is committed to ensure every school gets 100 percent of its fair funding level, a commitment of the Labor party at the 2022 Federal Election.

The Expert Panel will consult with State and Territory Governments, teachers, principals and other education experts to present recommendations to Education Ministers. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, organisations from regional, rural and remote Australia, people with disability, and young Australians experiencing disadvantage will also be consulted.

Australian Education Union Federal President Correna Haythorpe welcomed the announcement and the Federal Government’s commitment to consulting with the teaching profession as an essential part of the process.

“If Australian public schools had 100 per cent of their fair funding level, students from every background would benefit from smaller class sizes, additional teachers and more resources.

“We welcome the Federal Government’s focus on students who experience disadvantage, including students with disability, from regional and remote areas, First Nations’ students and students from a language background other than English.

“Public education is a joint responsibility between the Federal and State and Territory Governments, and all governments must play a role in the delivery of that fair funding for public school students,” Ms Haythorpe said.

Dr O’Brien said she is “grateful and excited” for the opportunity to lead the team of experts.

“Every child deserves the opportunity to receive a good education. My work at The Smith Family showed me time and time again how educational achievement can bring positive change to a young person’s life.

“I look forward consulting broadly to ensure sure we provide Ministers evidence informed advice on the types of reforms that can make a lasting difference to our young people and boost educational outcomes for all Australian students – no matter what their background.”

As well as Dr O’Brien, the panel will include experts with significant and diverse experience in school education, including

  • Ms Lisa Paul AO PSM, former Secretary of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and former Chair of the Quality Initial Teacher Education Review.
  • Professor Stephen Lamb, Emeritus Professor at the Centre for International Research on Education Systems at Victoria University and member of the National School Resourcing Board.
  • Dr Jordana Hunter, School Education Program Director at the Grattan Institute.
  • Ms Dyonne Anderson, President of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Principals Association and Principal at Cabbage Tree Island Public School.
  • Professor Pasi Sahlberg, Professor of Educational Leadership at University of Melbourne.

The expert panel will deliver its report to Education Ministers by October 31 2023.

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