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Meeting our educational challenges

Significant progress in improving the quality and equity of Australian schooling depends on tackling our deepest and most stubborn educational challenges.

Australian education faces seemingly intractable challenges, but real reform and significant progress in improving the quality and equity of Australian schooling is possible, according to ACER Chief Executive, Professor Geoff Masters AO, writing in Teacher.

Professor Masters identifies five key challenges: raising the professional status of teaching; reducing the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged schools; designing a 21st-century curriculum; promoting flexible learning arrangements focused on growth; and identifying and meeting the needs of children on trajectories of low achievement.

Meeting the challenge to raise the professional status of teaching requires an understanding of why teaching is currently not more attractive, what high-performing countries have done to raise the status of teaching, and what strategies are likely to make teaching a more highly regarded profession and sought-after career in Australia, Professor Masters notes.

To reduce the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged schools we need to identify and implement policies – including school funding policies – that address socioeconomic disparity. 

We also need a significant rethink of the school curriculum that gives greater priority to the skills and attributes required for life and work in the 21st century; more flexible ways of personalising teaching and learning – regardless of students’ starting points and according to a growth mindset model; and better ways of identifying children at risk of being locked into trajectories of low achievement in order to intervene intensively, especially during the early years of school. §

Read the full article:
‘‘Big five’ challenges in school education’, written by Geoff Masters and published in Teacher, is available at < teacher.acer.edu.au/geoff-masters >

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