Outcome 1: Support quality early learning and schooling

Improved early learning, schooling, student education outcomes and transitions to and from school through access to quality child care, support, parent engagement, quality teaching and learning environments.

Support a high quality school education system, including preschool, with improved outcomes for Australia’s students through a focus on quality teaching, school autonomy, parent engagement and a robust Australian curriculum.

Our performance highlights

Contribute to the operating costs of government and non-government primary and secondary schools through needs-based funding.

Recurrent schools funding is the main way in which the Government contributes to in school educational costs. The Government provides the majority of public funding for non-government schools, which is supplemented by states and territories. The states and territories provide the majority of public funding for government schools, with the Government providing supplementary assistance. In 2015‑16 the Commonwealth provided recurrent funding of $10.75 billion for non government schools and $5.74 billion for government schools.

Funding provided in the 2015 calendar year under the Australian Education Act 2013 included:

  • Recurrent funding: a total of $5.46 billion was paid to state and territory governments for government schools and approximately $9.48 billion funding was paid to non-government schools through state and territory governments
  • Indigenous Boarding initiative: approximately $3.8 million was provided through state and territory governments for 26 eligible schools in the Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria under the prescribed circumstances provisions of the Act
  • Capital Grants program: a total of $137.6 million was paid to block grant authorities for capital projects
  • Special Circumstances funding—Short Term Emergency Assistance funding: $80,000 in special circumstances funding was paid to non-government schools 
  • Non-government representative bodies—Students First Support Fund: a total of $41.2 million was paid to non-government representative bodies.

Lift the Year 12 or equivalent or Certificate II attainment rate to 90 per cent by 2015

This is a measure of students completing Year 12 or attaining a qualification. Since 2007 there has been an increase of 4.9 percentage points in the Year 12 or equivalent Certificate II attainment rate (increasing from 83.5 per cent in 2007 to 88.4 per cent in 2015).

Figure 2.3: Percentage of 20–24 year olds with at least a Year 12 or Certificate II or above qualification (with 95% confidence interval and trend line)

Figure 2.3 illustrates what while there has been an increase since 2001, it has not reached the target of 90% by 2015
Figure 2.3: Percentage of 20–24 year olds with at least a Year 12 or Certificate II or above qualification (with 95% confidence interval and trend line)

Source: ABS, 2015, Education and Work, cat no. 6227.0

Lift the Year 12 or equivalent or Certificate III attainment rate to 90 per cent by 2020

Between 2001 and 2015, the Year 12 or Certificate III or above attainment rate has increased by 0.8 percentage points per year. If this trend continues, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) will meet the 90 per cent target by 2020.

Figure 2.4: Percentage of 20–24 year olds with at least a Year 12 or Certificate III or above qualification (with 95% confidence interval and trend line)

Figure 2.4 illustrates that if the tread of attainment since 2001 continues the target of 90% by 2020 will be met
Figure 2.4: Percentage of 20–24 year olds with at least a Year 12 or Certificate III or above qualification (with 95% confidence interval and trend line)

Source: ABS, 2015, Education and Work, cat no. 6227.0

At least halve the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students’ Year 12 or equivalent attainment rates by 2020

The gap is narrowing in Year 12 or equivalent attainment. Nationally, the proportion of Indigenous 20–24 year olds who had achieved Year 12 or equivalent increased from 45.4 per cent in 2008 to 61.4 per cent in 2014–15. Between 2008 and 2014–15, the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous attainment narrowed by 14.6 percentage points (from 39.6 percentage points in 2008 to 25 percentage points in 2014–15).

Figure 2.5: Proportion of 20–24 year olds attaining Year 12 or equivalent, Indigenous and non Indigenous, 2008 and 2014–15

Figure 2.5 illustrates that between 2008 and 2014–15 the gap in obtainment by indigenous and non-indigenous students narrowed
Figure 2.5: Proportion of 20–24 year olds attaining Year 12 or equivalent, Indigenous and non Indigenous, 2008 and 2014–15

Sources: ABS, 2008, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, cat no 4714.0 (microdata)

ABS, 2014–15, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, Australia, cat no. 4714.0

Close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous school attendance within five years (by 2018)

The gap in school attendance rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students widens as children age and tends to be significantly greater in remote and very remote areas. Future Closing the Gap reports will assess progress against the target to close the school attendance gap. The baseline year for this target is 2014. In Semester 1, 2015 the overall school attendance rate was 92.6 per cent nationally. The rate of non-Indigenous attendance for this period was 93.1 per cent, while Indigenous attendance was lower at 83.7 per cent. There has been little improvement in the attendance rates for Indigenous students from 2014 (83.5 per cent). In order to reach the Closing the Gap target, progress will need to accelerate.

Figure 2.6: School attendance rates by region, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, 2015

Figure 2.6 illustrates that the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous attainment rates becomes larger the more remote the region
Figure 2.6: School attendance rates by region, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, 2015

Source: Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s Report 2016, Figure 3, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority

Halve the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and other students, in reading, writing and numeracy by 2018 from the baseline in 2008

Data from the National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) 2015 shows that the gap in performance between the proportion of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students achieving at or above the national minimum standard (NMS) has narrowed since 2008 in almost all targeted areas. A reduction in the gap of between two and eight percentage points is evident across all domains and year levels, with the exception of Year 3 numeracy where there has been no change.

Figure 2.7 Reading: Gap between the proportion of Indigenous and non-Indigenous performing at or above the NMS in NAPLAN, 2008 and 2015

Figure 2.7 illustrates that between 2008 and 2015 the gap in reading performance has reduced at each of the year levels
Figure 2.7 Reading: Gap between the proportion of Indigenous and non-Indigenous performing at or above the NMS in NAPLAN, 2008 and 2015

Figure 2.8 Numeracy: Gap between the proportion of Indigenous and non-Indigenous performing at or above the NMS in NAPLAN, 2008 and 2015

Figure 2.8 illustrates that between 2008 and 2015 the gap in numeracy performance has remained the same at the year 3 level and reduced at each of the other year levels
Figure 2.8 Numeracy: Gap between the proportion of Indigenous and non-Indigenous performing at or above the NMS in NAPLAN, 2008 and 2015

For Australia to be placed, by 2025, in the top five highest performing countries based on the performance of school students in reading, mathematics and science

There is no change to report against these measures in 2015‑16. The most recent results available are from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2012. Results from PISA 2015 will be available in December 2016.

For the Australian schooling system to be considered a high quality and highly equitable schooling system by international standards by 2025

There is no change to report against these measures in 2015‑16. The most recent results available are from PISA 2012. Results from PISA 2015 will be available in December 2016.

Our analysis

While the Government played a key role in areas and initiatives of national significance throughout 2015‑16, under the Australian Constitution states and territories are responsible for the delivery of school education. In many cases, decisions are made by individual schools. The department’s national policy leadership to support a high quality schooling system therefore involves extensive collaboration with state and territory government and non government education authorities.

Needs-based funding

Commonwealth recurrent funding represents the great majority of our investment in schools. From 2014 to 2017, Commonwealth recurrent funding for all schools is transitioning under the Australian Education Act 2013 from levels under the previous funding arrangements towards the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) funding arrangement levels. Funding is calculated with reference to a base amount plus loadings to target student and school disadvantage including students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, students with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, students with low English proficiency, and school size and location. For most non government schools, the base amount is discounted by the anticipated capacity of their school community to financially contribute towards the school’s operating costs.

The amount of funding an approved authority for a school will receive during transition is determined by a number of factors including its funding level under the previous arrangements, the school’s SRS, the transition pathway and the share of the SRS to be provided by the Commonwealth.

While Commonwealth recurrent funding is calculated with reference to the characteristics of students at a school, approved authorities for schools are not required to spend the funding on any particular student or student cohort. With schools and school systems best placed to judge the individual needs of their students, approved authorities have the flexibility to manage the Commonwealth recurrent funding they receive to deliver the best possible education outcomes.

This environment presents opportunities for the department to lead national initiatives for flexible and tailored delivery, driving critical reforms and setting standards for the teaching and learning of all students, regardless of where they live or their background. Within this context, the department strives to ensure the system’s funding and efforts are focused on what provides the greatest benefit and addresses the greatest areas of need.

Students First reforms

The department works closely with the national education architecture to deliver reforms that support quality teaching, school autonomy, parent engagement and a robust national curriculum. This includes working with the:
Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Education Council and related forums

  • Education Services Australia (ESA)
  • Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)
  • Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL).

Other important stakeholders include state and territory education departments, national non government education bodies, principal and teacher associations, education experts and, ultimately, principals, teachers, students, parents, guardians and school communities.

A significant milestone occurred in September 2015 when the Education Council endorsed the Australian Curriculum from Foundation to Year 10. The national curriculum was developed by ACARA, and revised following the Government’s 2014 Review of the Australian Curriculum. This followed sector-wide collaboration over many years and means that, for the first time, Australia has a national curriculum for all students to Year 10.
The department actively supported delivery of the Australian Curriculum where significant needs or challenges exist. For example, the department has rolled out initiatives to boost participation and engagement in digital literacy and support implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies. The department also contracted ESA to develop innovative teaching resources, including the Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) apps and the Digital Technologies Hub.

While the states and territories are responsible for Australia’s teacher workforce, the Australian Government is responsible for the funding of higher education. As such, the department worked alongside stakeholders to make significant progress strengthening initial teacher education programs in response to the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group (TEMAG) February 2015 report: Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers. This includes implementing a national literacy and numeracy test for initial teacher education students.

More remains to be done in the critical areas of lifting performance in reading, mathematics and science, as well as improving outcomes and access for disadvantaged groups, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and students with disability or students located in remote and very remote areas. As the current funding periods for both schools and preschools conclude at the end of 2017, COAG will consider future funding arrangements and reform priorities in 2017. Improving the national evidence base with high quality, timely and consistent data remains a priority for the department. This includes ensuring the national evidence base is transparent and maintains public accountability for comparison of performance, as well as strengthening research capabilities to assess how educational outcomes are progressing.

Our priorities

The department is committed to supporting the Government’s vision for a strong and sustainable  school and preschool education system that ensures all Australian children receive an excellent education. The department works in partnership with states and territories and the non government sector. Our work reflects the Government’s priorities to improve outcomes for all Australian students through the Students First package of reforms. The four pillars under Students First are: quality teaching; school autonomy; engaging parents in education; and a strong and robust curriculum. As part of our commitment to achieving and supporting better educational outcomes and policy, the department is building a comprehensive and high quality education evidence base, underpinned by informative and accurate data.

The department recognises the social and economic benefits of high quality and equitable school education. The Government will provide $73.6 billion over the next four years to support government and non-government primary and secondary schooling across Australia. The department is working to support the Government’s commitment to ensuring recurrent funding from 2018 is invested in areas that evidence shows are vital to improving student outcomes. These areas will be determined through consultation with states and territories, the non-government school sector, teachers, school leaders and the community. As agreed by COAG, arrangements from 2018 will be resolved by early 2017.

Attending a quality early childhood education program can significantly increase positive educational and life outcomes for children, especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds. In 2015‑16 the department provided a funding contribution to states and territories to support all children to participate in 600 hours of quality early childhood education in the year before full-time school. This includes a focus on participation by Indigenous and vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

School autonomy

The department also focused on giving schools the flexibility to make their own decisions about school management. The Government’s $70 million Independent Public Schools Initiative has given participating schools across all states a greater capacity to take on decision-making at the school level, and encourages increased parent and community engagement.
National assessments

The department is also working to improve national assessments, data collection and the information available to policy-makers, education authorities, teachers and parents. Through the National Assessment Reform initiative, the department is working closely with ACARA, ESA and the states and territories on the development and testing of a national online assessment platform. This platform will support the delivery of online assessments, including NAPLAN. The reform initiative will transform national testing, giving teachers and parents faster and more accurate information on student performance, and allow timely and targeted action to be taken to improve the literacy and numeracy skills of young people. The move to NAPLAN testing online will also, for the first time, enable individual tests to be tailored to match each student’s ability.

Quality teaching

Teacher effectiveness is critical to the future of young Australians and research shows that teachers have the greatest in-school influence on student engagement and achievement. AITSL, on behalf of Government, works in close collaboration with the states and territories, non-government school sector, universities and other key stakeholders in supporting the teaching profession. The department has continued to support the upskilling of the teacher workforce through the Teach for Australia program, which attracts and supports high calibre candidates into teaching in disadvantaged secondary schools.

A key element of improving teacher effectiveness and quality teaching has been the continued implementation of the Government’s response to the 2015 TEMAG Report: Action Now: Classroom Ready Teachers. This includes the introduction of the national Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education Students. In 2015 education ministers endorsed the revised Accreditation of Initial Teacher Education Programs in Australia: Standards and Procedures that commit states and territories to strengthened accreditation of initial teacher education courses.

Curriculum

Another important priority for the department has been supporting development and implementation of the revised Australian Curriculum from Foundation to Year 10, which was endorsed by all education ministers in September 2015. This involves working closely with state and territory education authorities and ACARA.
Following endorsement by the Education Council in December 2015, the Framework for Aboriginal Languages and Torres Strait Islander Languages, and Hindi and Turkish curricula was also made available at the Australian Curriculum website.

The department is also rolling out a range of initiatives that support quality learning across key learning areas, particularly science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. These have a particular focus on ensuring students most at risk of falling behind in the digital age are given opportunities to participate, as well as improving the pipeline of foreign language study through the ELLA program for pre-schoolers.

The Pathways in Technology (P-TECH) pilot is an important element of the Government’s plan to build Australia’s STEM capability. Two pilot sites, Newcomb Secondary College in Geelong and Federation College in Ballarat, have been established to support young people to achieve a STEM related post-school qualification. This cohort of P-TECH students are ready to progress to their second year of studies in 2017 with ongoing support from industry mentors. The pilot has demonstrated significant industry and community support for the P-TECH model as a way to address regional workforce development and youth unemployment challenges.

The department is helping to ensure that students with disability can access and participate in education and training on the same basis as those without disability, through Disability Standards for Education and by addressing the important issue of curriculum accessibility for students with disability.

VET in schools

The department is maintaining our commitment to high quality vocational learning and vocational education and training (VET) delivered to secondary students. This includes providing the Chair and Secretariat for the Schools Vocational Learning and Training Working Group of the COAG Education Council. Preparing Secondary Students for Work—a framework for vocational learning and VET delivered to secondary students—was released by the Education Council in 2014.

In 2015‑16 work continued with state and territory governments, the Catholic and independent education sectors, industry and the training sector to maximise outcomes for students and employers under this framework. 

The department played a lead role during 2015 in supporting the working group to develop practical tools and resources. This included an interactive VET self assessment tool, which will help schools and school systems to plan, implement and review VET programs. These resources were launched officially by the Government on 8 March 2016. The working group’s focus going forward includes:

  • improving access to qualified teachers and trainers for the delivery of VET to secondary students
  • strengthening vocational learning, including career education in schools
  • improving VET in schools data and research to better understand drivers of VET course selections and offerings for secondary students
  • supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Strategy post-school transitions goal


 

 

SUPPORT QUALITY EARLY LEARNING AND SCHOOLING

Support a high quality school education system, including preschool, with improved outcomes for Australia’s students through a focus on quality teaching, school autonomy, parent engagement and a robust Australian curriculum


Program 1.1 Government Schools National Support

Provides funding to state and territory governments to facilitate the delivery of education within government schools


Program 1.2 Non-Government Schools National Support

Provides funding to non-government schools and systems to facilitate the delivery of education


Program 1.3 Early Learning and Schools Support

Improve student outcomes by ensuring access to high quality teaching and learning in early learning and schools


Program 1.4 Trade Training Centres in Schools

Improve student access to trade training facilities in secondary schools and assist young people to transition from school to work


Program 1.5 Youth Support

National events and research to inform policies and programs to improve the educational outcomes of young people


Our program performance

Table 2.5: Program 1.1 Government Schools National Support
DELIVERABLES ESTIMATE ACTUAL
Funded full-time equivalent student enrolment projections  2,419,000 2,419,000
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS ESTIMATE ACTUAL
All full-time enrolments in Australian schools: Primary students  1,468,000 1,484,000
All full-time enrolments in Australian schools: Secondary students  949,000 942,000
Number of Indigenous students at school  167,000 167,000
Table 2.6: Program 1.2 Non-Government Schools National Support
DELIVERABLES ESTIMATE ACTUAL
Funded full-time equivalent student enrolment projections 1,298,000 1,295,000
Number of schools assisted with capital supporta 225 236

a Capital grants is a calendar year program. The number of schools assisted from year to year varies depending on the size of projects supported.

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS ESTIMATE ACTUAL
All full-time enrolments in Australian schools: Primary students 646,000 651,000
All full-time enrolments in Australian schools: Secondary students 664,000 654,000
Indigenous students 32,000 32,000
Table 2.7: Program 1.3 Early Learning and Schools Support
DELIVERABLES ESTIMATE ACTUAL
Parliament and Civics Education Rebate (PACER):
Number of schools visiting Canberra under PACER
2,202 1,969
Helping Children with Autism package:
Number of teachers and other school staff participating in professional development coursesa
538 4,060
Helping Children with Autism package:
Number of parents and carers participating in workshops and information sessionsa
791 1,362
National School Chaplaincy Programme:
Number of schools receiving support for chaplaincy servicesb
2,900 3,000
Early Learning Languages Australia trial:
Online foreign language learning in preschool programs trialled in 2015
program evaluated program evaluation completed
Teach for Australia:
Number of associates commencing in schools
60 67

a There was a change to more flexible delivery over 2015–16 involving a combination of face-to-face and online modules. Attendance figures for Phase 2, which ended on 30 September 2015, comprised face-to-face attendance only. Service delivery for Phase 3 began at the start of 2016 school year. Attendance for Phase 3 is based on both online and face-to-face training. The actual figures are therefore higher than the initial target figures, as these figures were based on face-to-face training only.
b Number of schools is an estimate for the 2016 school year. The numbers are subject to change during the school year.

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS ESTIMATE ACTUAL
Universal Access to Early Childhood Education National Partnership:
Percentage of all children enrolled in preschoola
95% 100%
Universal Access to Early Childhood Education National Partnership:
Percentage of Indigenous children enrolled in preschool
95% 95%
Universal Access to Early Childhood Education National Partnership:
Percentage of Indigenous children enrolled in preschool in remote areas
95% 100%
Universal Access to Early Childhood Education National Partnership:
Percentage of enrolled children enrolled in preschool for 600 hours a yearb
95% 90%

a Data is from the ABS, 2015, Preschool Education, Australia, cat. no. 4240.0; ABS, 2015 Estimates and Projections, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, cat. no 3238.0; collected through the 2015 National Early Childhood Education and Care Collection. The 2015 collection was supplemented by a communications strategy to long day care centres (LDCs), resulting in improved response rates by LDCs during the reference week. These improvements in data quality contributed to performance increases above those achieved in 2014–15.
b This measure was corrected in the 2016–17 Education and Training PBS to more accurately reflect the target set under the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education.

Table 2.8: Program 1.4 Trade Training Centres in Schools
DELIVERABLES  ESTIMATE ACTUAL
Total announced projects (cumulative)  511 511
Table 2.9: Program 1.5 Youth Support
DELIVERABLES  ESTIMATE ACTUAL
Progress towards 2015 COAG target of 90 per cent Year 12 equivalent attainment a 90% final target 88.40%

a Data is from the ABS, 2015, Survey of Education and Work 2015—Table 6227.0.003, Tables 1.1, 1.6, 1.9–1.11. Notes: Attainment of a qualification at Australian Qualification Framework Certificate II level or higher is considered equivalent to Year 12 by COAG.