By Michael Giles

NEXT week is Education Week.
And as we can see from the feature pages of the Sentinel-Times this week, there’s a lot to celebrate.
We’ve got great schools, some with exciting building and development projects completed or coming up, and many excellent, committed teachers and administrators.
But, according to the latest review of Australia’s education system, by David Gonski and his review panel, since the year 2000 “academic performance has declined when compared to other OECD countries, suggesting that Australian students and schools are not improving at the same rate and are falling short of achieving the full learning potential of which they are capable”.
The report also says that Australia is a country with the resources to provide a world leading education for our kids and it’s something we must insist on as a priority.
This review report makes compelling reading for anyone who would like to know more about how the Australian education system is serving our kids, the community in general and the future of our industry, economic prosperity and also our enjoyment of life.
It is titled ‘Through Growth to Achievement – Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools March 2018’ (see link below or you can also find it on our website at www.sgst.com.au).
It’s a weighty title and a fairly heavy read but also extremely interesting.
It talks about how our teachers aren’t properly supported with the data, systems and resources to meet the individual learning needs of our kids. In fact our schools and the curriculum isn’t even organised to achieve that aim and should not be based on a grade system of promotion where kids go forward leaving unlearned fundamentals behind.
The report makes many strong points, stressing for example the importance of laying the foundations in the early years.
“Helping all children develop strong foundations for later learning is critical because nearly one-quarter of children in Australia are developmentally behind when they enter school. These developmentally vulnerable children are more likely than other students to be in the bottom 20 per cent of NAPLAN scores in Years 3, 5 and 7. If not addressed, gaps between students with low and high levels of achievement in the early years significantly widen throughout schooling, highlighting the importance of addressing these gaps early.”
How many times have we heard, for example, stories of kids who have passed through the whole education system without picking up the basics of reading, maths, science and other key learning areas.
If nothing else, we need to be insisting that schools are better resourced in the early learning years so our kids at least get a good start in life.
If you haven’t read the Gonski report you should. And coming up to the next State and Federal elections, we should be quizzing our candidates on what they know and plan to do to improve the education system as the number one priority.