Education ministers back new national standards

State and federal education ministers have endorsed assessment standards for the new Australian curriculum and a framework for national teacher registration.

They have also got behind a proposal to fund professional development for principals and a national model to identify students with a disability.

The standards by which students will be assessed are to be streamlined nationally in the new curriculum subjects of maths, science, English and history, school education Minister Peter Garrett says.

“We already had the content, now we have the validated standards against which students will be assessed,” Garrett said after the ministers met in Melbourne last week.

A framework to streamline the teacher registration process, giving teachers more flexibility to move between states, was also endorsed to start in 2013.

Garrett said the framework would help address workforce issues.

Asked whether it would encourage teachers to move to states where the pay was better, he answered that pay was a matter for different jurisdictions.

“Teachers can be confident, no matter what state they teach in, they have the opportunity for the mutual recognition of their training and that’s actually better for schools, better for students and better for teachers,” he said.

Ministers also backed a federal government proposal to invest $38 million in professional development for school principals with the money to go to states and territories.

The funding will be used to assist principles implement the national curriculum and to encourage school engagement with indigenous communities.

“We understand the key role principals play in a rapidly changing education landscape, and we also know that many of them will benefit from professional development opportunities,” Garrett said.

Professional development options for principals include mentoring programs, online courses, workshops and training in indigenous community engagement.

Ministers have also agreed on the country’s first ever plan for a national model to identify students with a disability.

It would mean information on student disabilities was consistent across the country.

At the moment definitions vary from state to state, leading to unreliable figures where, for instance, only three per cent of children are classified as having a disability in one state, but 11.8 per cent in another.

The model has been piloted in 150 schools and a working group is due to report back to ministers by April.

Garrett said the model would help create a national snapshot of how many students were considered to have a disability and the amount of support they now received.

“At the moment, kids with disabilities are less likely to finish year 12 and Australia is lagging behind other countries in the workforce participation of adults with disability


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