Ministers endorse new education goals

Literacy, numeracy and discipline-based knowledge are the federal government's new education focus.
Literacy, numeracy and discipline-based knowledge are the federal government's new education focus.

Foundational areas of literacy, numeracy and discipline-based learning will be a focus of Australia's education system over the next decade, the nation's education ministers have announced.

At a meeting in Alice Springs, the ministers endorsed a new set of goals after a year-long consultation with students, teachers, academics and education experts.

"This Mparntwe Declaration ensures all governments, our school systems and tertiary institutions are on the same page when it comes to what Australians expect from their education," federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said in a statement on Thursday.

"Education is now a continuous journey that begins at birth and doesn't stop at the end of high school or after university graduation."

The declaration establishes two specific goals for the education system - to promote excellence and equity and to ensure all young Australians become confident and creative individuals and successful lifelong learners.

It also maintained a commitment to a "world-class curriculum" that sets clear and challenging learning goals.

"The Australian Curriculum enables students to develop knowledge and understanding in the learning areas of English, mathematics, science, humanities and social sciences, health and physical education, technologies, languages, and the arts," the declaration said.

"The learning areas in the curriculum support the development of deep knowledge within a discipline and allow for a depth of learning appropriate to students' phases of development."

Ahead of the meeting, Mr Tehan expressed concerns about the current curriculum, describing it as "overcrowded".

"Central to improving student outcomes must involve refocusing on literacy and numeracy and de-cluttering the curriculum," he said.

On Thursday he said the Commonwealth had "insisted the updated declaration included a strong focus on the foundational areas of literacy, numeracy and discipline-based knowledge".

"The declaration also acknowledges the need for workforce skills, including communication, team-work, languages and problem-solving," Mr Tehan said.

Northern Territory Education Minister Selena Uibo said she was pleased the new plan prioritised the needs of Australia's first nation children and students in remote and regional communities.

Australian Associated Press