The focus of education policy must shift from ‘more money’ to instead investing in cost-effective, evidence-based practices. This is the purpose of the government’s ‘Gonski 2.0’ review, but what does the evidence suggest schools should be investing in?
These investments would not have to cost the taxpayer more. For example, professional development in reading instruction and managing the classroom could be prioritised over less important training, and giving teachers fewer classes could be offset by increasing class sizes.
While theoretically smaller classes should facilitate better teaching, many recent studies indicate reducing class sizes has limited — and inconsistent — positive effects. Australia’s class sizes are much smaller than several top-performing countries.
Technology is another common school investment not supported by evidence. Australian schools use technology significantly more than most of the OECD, but this hasn’t stopped the decline in our literacy and numeracy results.
We must bring evidence back to the forefront of school spending; otherwise, the extra $23.5 billion of Gonski 2.0 funding will fail to improve student outcomes, letting down both students and taxpayers.
Blaise Joseph is an Education Policy Analyst at The Centre for Independent Studies and a former teacher. He is author of Getting the most out of Gonski 2.0: The evidence base for school investments released this week.
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