Parents' income segregates Australian school students

Australia's school system has been described as one of the most segregated in the developed world, with parents' pay packets determining the likelihood of success.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare has vowed to ensure all schools get their full and fair funding as he pledged to close the gap after a meeting with his state and territory counterparts.

"We have one of the most segregated school systems in the OECD, not by the colour of your skin, by the size of your parents' pay packet," he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

Almost every government school is not funded to the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), which is the investment needed to meet students' educational needs.

"Underfunding of schools, and government schools in particular, is undermining other reform efforts," an expert panel reviewing school funding reform found.

This in turn is impacting student education and wellbeing, teacher attraction and retention and confidence in the public school system, it said.

The panel recommends kids have access to community and health services and support - including occupational and speech therapists at school - and teachers be well-resourced.

The report highlighted the need for a stronger focus on student wellbeing, improved funding and more equitable support, Save the Children's Australian service delivery arm 54 reasons said.

"Lower wellbeing is linked to lower engagement in learning and worse educational outcomes," 54 reasons chief executive Matt Gardiner said as he called for a meaningful commitment from governments.

"Schools must be given the right support to ensure every child has the best chance of reaching their full potential."

But it was important to ensure students having holistic support didn't add to teacher workloads, the ministers said in a communique.

An independent oversight board will be put in place to ensure national consistency and quality of teaching accreditation programs.

New national guidelines to support early career teachers and amendments to accreditation standards were also ticked off by the ministers.

A national teacher workforce action plan will continue to be developed next year.

Jason Clare
Education Minister Jason Clare says teachers don't feel respected and "we need to change that".

"Pay is important, workload is important, they're all reasons why we've got challenges with the number of teachers in our schools at the moment," Mr Clare said.

"But so is respect and if you survey teachers, you'll find that most teachers don't feel like they're respected by their local community. We need to change that."

Early intervention and catch up tutoring to ensure kids don't fall too far behind was another recommendation.

The evidence showed children who were falling behind being moved from a class of 30 kids to three were able to learn in six months what they would otherwise have in a year, Mr Clare said.

The education ministers agreed to work together to ensure every school was fully funded to the SRS as they continued discussions about who picked up the tab.

But there would be "no blank cheques" for schools, Mr Clare said, as he grapples with how to tie funding to improving education and wellbeing outcomes and opportunities.

The next national school reform agreement outlining funding is due to be finalised next year and start in 2025.

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