Release type: Transcript


Interview - Sunrise


The Hon Jason Clare MP
Minister for Education


MATT SHIRVINGTON: Nearly 10 per cent of school students are in need of additional support in order to meet minimum standards for literacy and numeracy across this year's NAPLAN report card.

That's up on last year but comes after education ministers around the country raised the bar that students are expected to meet. The move was designed to identify kids being left behind.

For more, I'm joined by Education Minister, Jason Clare. Good morning to you.


SHIRVINGTON: Well, one in 10 students are in need of support. What needs to be done? There are parents crying out to see if this could be fixed.

CLARE: This report makes it blisteringly clear that we need serious reform in education. We've got a good education system, but it can be a lot better, and a lot fairer. As you say, about one in 10 children are behind or below the minimum standard that they're expected to meet for literacy and numeracy.

But it's more than that, it's about one in three children from poor families, one in three children from the bush, or one in three Indigenous children who are below the minimum standard, and when they fall behind, they tend to stay behind. Not many children who are identified as below the minimum standard when they're in 3rd grade are above it by Year 9.

What we've got to do is not just identify those children, and that's what we're doing with this report, but make sure that we're providing them with the sort of support they need to catch up, to keep up and to ultimately finish high school.

SHIRVINGTON: I know you're big on reinvesting funds to education, clearly, as the Minister, 70‑plus billion spent on NAPLAN in the last two years, however, results are declining.

CLARE: It's a big investment, Shirvo, and not all schools are funded equally. Non‑government schools are generally funded above the level that David Gonski said they should be, and they're on track to go down to that level by the end of the decade, but public schools aren't. Except for in the ACT, no public school in Australia is on track to be funded at the level that David Gonski said they should be.

We need to fix that, and we made a commitment before the election to work with States and Territories to fix that funding gap. But not just that, we need to make sure that that funding is tied to the sort of things that are going to fix the problems that are made clear in this report, that we tie that funding to the sort of things that are going to help children who have fallen behind in primary school to catch up, to keep up in high school, and ultimately to finish high school, because most of the jobs being created in the economy right now require you to finish high school and then go on to TAFE or uni.

SHIRVINGTON: Yeah, and teachers, encouraging teachers, bringing new teachers in. The opposition's education spokeswoman, Sarah Henderson, has called the result "a national embarrassment", and says the education system is failing young Australians. What's your response to that?

CLARE: I'm not going to blame the opposition for ten years of failure. My job is to fix this. My job is to make sure that in the next National School Reform Agreement that we strike next year with the States and the Territories, that we're making sure we invest the additional funding in schools to make sure that they're funded fairly, but we make sure that funding is tied to the sort of things that will work, we're making sure that we're tying that money to the sort of things that are going to help children who fall behind at school to catch up and to keep up and finish school.

One of those things, Shirvo, is catch‑up tutoring. We know from lots of examples that kids who are falling behind in the class, if you take them out of the class, one teacher, a couple of kids, they can learn as much in 18 weeks as you would normally expect to learn in 12 months. They're the sort of things we need to do if we're going to help the children that this report shows need a bit of extra help.

SHIRVINGTON: Let's get it done. Thanks for your time, Minister. Appreciate it.