Australia’s collaborative problem solving students among world leaders

Media Release

Australian students are among the world’s best collaborative problem-solvers, according to a new international report.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the OECD’s inaugural report on collaborative problem solving showed nearly twice the number of Australian students were highly skilled in problem solving compared to the OECD average.

The report ranked Australia at 10th out of 52 countries, behind comparable nations Canada (5th) and New Zealand (9th) but ahead of the United States (13th) and the United Kingdom (15th).

“Australia’s education system is one of the world’s best at preparing students with the vital collaboration and social skills that workplaces are increasingly demanding,” Minister Birmingham said.

“As workforces become more and more globalised, it’s skills like collaboration that can deliver significant competitive advantages.

“We have nearly double the number of students with high level skills in collaborative problem solving at 15 per cent compared to the OECD average of 8 per cent. Around 4 per cent of our students were low performing compared to the 6 per cent OECD average.

“The findings are a testament to the skills of our teachers, the influence of Australian families and the culture in our education system.”

Minister Birmingham said the Turnbull Government was taking action to address many of the issues the report raised.

“While we should be pleased with the overall result of Australian schools, there are lessons for all of us in these results,” Minister Birmingham said. 

“We need to hone in on tackling the gender divide that has seen the results of Australia’s boys trail behind girls and work to close the performance gap between students from high and low socio-economic status backgrounds.

“Our overhaul of schools funding that flows through from next year will ensure that every student gets the resources they need to succeed based on their individual needs.

“While 62 per cent of our students performed better in collaborative problem solving than was expected based on their reading, maths and science scores, a focus on one skill shouldn’t come at the expense of the others.

“Ensuring excellence in all areas of school education is why we’ve asked David Gonski and a panel of education and policy experts to make recommendations on how our schools and educators focus resources in classrooms.

“The report makes it clear that some of the most important factors in these collaborative problem solving results is in the strong, positive relationships that exist between students, teachers and parents.”

The OECD’s report on collaborative problem solving is available at http://www.oecd.org/pisa/

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